Daily Archives: June 8, 2007

Angel Mask by Wing Shya

masked violence

I completely didn’t know this was a separate work from Azhanti High Lightning. The two are completely unrelated, but share the same publicity poster.

So this was what I wrote in the guest book:

The works are intriguing, poignant and suitably lit. Your own obsession of violence has become art! Has that violence been influenced by Wushu (Chinese Martial Art)? Or Kill Bill cinematic acts of screen violence?

The works seem to be an experiment of violence as aesthetics, pushing blood and gore.

I can imagine your next work will focus on purer violence, or a kind of performance art. I once heard a story of a Kazakhstan artist slicing the throat of a lamb in front of a live audience in an art gallery, much like the ritual sacrifice of the lamb, but heralding as art.

The snapshot aesthetics of the photographs are beautifully arranged, resembling stills extracted from films dealing with memory and loss, and hence the segmentation and fragmentation, seen in the image of the thin, frail looking nude woman, the passing airplanes, a car crashing into a wall and the sword wielding ‘butcher’. The responsibility of constructing a narrative is thus passed over to the viewer.

But there is something in that violence, a longing for catharsis, that is incredibly penetrating, dangerously close to ‘religious fervour’ and thus possibly alluring. The snap shots, masked this. A singular ‘moment’ will perhaps expose this in more specific and interesting ways.

3.0 of 10 stars 

NAFA Gallery (nearer to The Coffee Connoisseur)

2 June – 5 July 2007

“Azhanti High Lightning: rudiments of life and death” by Simon Birch

lighting life and death through screen gangster culture

The reading I have of the exhibition seems to contradict that of the curator. Well, I am entitled to an opinion.

The intended installation is suppose to use the analogy of a space ship hurling through space and time to depict a ‘visionary environment of chance, change and consequences’. I felt that the works were more a celebration of movie violence. It looked like a hybrid of Hong Kong Election (directed by Johnnie To, starring Simon Yam), Battlestar Galactica, a dash of Yakuza aesthetics, and abstract scenes of movie clips and news flashes.

The works span Gallery 1 and 2, sub-dividing the space into 7 linked ante rooms, each a segment of a ‘journey’ for the viewer. The lighting is atmospheric, engulfing the multi-modal works – comprising a large Galactacus (X men comics fame) statue, paintings of tattoo -clad personas, transformer-styled robot heads, videos, objects resembling medal honours. A stallion painting lie on the extreme end, with a Japanese sword perched on a raised padestal.

The theatrics, a little stretched, are nonetheless very interesting, and monumental for the space of NAFA Gallery. It aims to fuse popular (screen) culture, a bombardment of media (movie excerpts and news flashes), and high art paintings, not too far off from the league of Samurai sword wielding angst teems who would want to watch Transformers ( theatre release on June 29 in Singapore).

6.0 of 10 Stars

exhibition curated by Bridget Tracy Tan

NAFA Gallery 1 & 2

2 June – 5 July 2007, not open on Sunday

For doses of a stronger narrative of domestic violence, martial arts and dysfunctional family, watch Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors (1994), from New Zealand. It would be more brutal and compelling than Azhanti High Lightning.