“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.

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