Index of Kindness by Ruark Lewis and Jonathan Jones

Indexing lines and speech


(photographs with the kind permission of PM)

The works by Ruark Lewis and Jonathan Jones are orchestrated in a colour symphony of reds, blacks and whites. As one enters the space, you are greeted by ‘flags’ with superimposed printed text, objects that are painted over with stripes, and a curiously long sketch that stretches most of the perimeter of the wall space. It takes a while accustoming to the arrangement of objects, and strain to hear the sound installation, desperate to make meaning and sense of the connection of the works to the title “Index of Kindness”. The gallery sitter Shafiq offered an explanation, that the title suggests the appreciation of the artists towards the institutions involved in the Asialink artists’ residency programme, and their desire to ‘record’ or make site specific works to Singapore and the new post-museum space.

The audio work start to creep under one’s skin as we walk from the front space to the back, like being in a live theatre performance. The sound installation utters, stammers and bewilders. The cacophony range of nuances in ‘b’ and ‘s’ sounds, are startling and at best, brilliant. As the sound installation loops, we are presented with a range of bare minimal sentences, half uttered words that express Anger (the most distinct), Sadness, Calmness and so on. Ironically, a flag, a ‘sign’ and an object communicates too, with the stenciled words ‘silence is golden’. It leads me to speculate that the works could deal with the gaps of communication, between silences, mutters and tone of voice.

We are forced to rethink our own utterances. I am reminded of every annoyed ‘Zh’ sound or frown that one makes unconsciously to loved ones at arguments, delightful chuckles at good jokes and words swallowed just when it is about to be said, ashamed and dejected. The exhibition is indeed an index, of sound and lines drawn in red and black – both over objects like 60’s performance artist Daniel Buren and in a large panoramic sketch of some coastal line.

This index is perhaps indeed a record of the artist’s presence on the tiny island, compared with the vastness of Australia which the artists are from. If one compared them to mark makings of the caves of Lascaux, are these marks to show their presence, marks of territory or simply records of events, places visited? Either case, the shoreline they have chosen to depict is densely built-up. Space here is condensed, flattened, stretched into new meaning and representation of actual space, challenging the nature of drawing as well.

One can argue that emotions are also drawn symbolically here, in red for anger, shades of grey to black for other possible emotions over the space of the gallery, pervading like a radio drama breaking up.

On hind sight, the exhibition does come together well, challenging definitions of space and sound art. As a site specific artworks, they do mirror the curiousity of passerbys that peek into this new artspace on infamous Rowell Road.

6.0 of 10 stars

Index of Kindness

Admission Free
Date: 26 September to 23 October 2007
Venue: Show Room, Post-Museum, 107+109 Rowell Rd

One response to “Index of Kindness by Ruark Lewis and Jonathan Jones

  1. Pingback: Ruark Lewis » Web reference

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