Daily Archives: September 30, 2007

Raised by 8 artist

Raised, a unique art exhibition occupied a plot of land opposite 24hr Mustafa Centre on Serangoon Road, raised not just eyebrows, but erected a temporary statue, ran mini-art carnivals for 6 consecutive weeks.

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The art display and the carnival it ran, under the auspices of the Singapore Art Show 2007,  drew thousands. It seems only too appropriate to dedicate an exhibition to our migrant workers, and unbelievable that a tiny community of visual artists in little India had not done so before. The works exhibited, excuted with great economy were  interactive and carnival like, and seem to embrace the view that “art is for everyone”. It almost seemed that art traded spaces with the intended viewer, climbing down from it’s plinth and replacing itself with a concrete figure, holding a shovel. I think the exhibition questions the value of art, along with a temporary idolised image of a foreign worker. As cliche as it sounds, it puts money where the mouth is, challenging perceptions of viewership dollar per head, effectiveness and ‘quality’ of art. As the title “raised” suggest, standards are questioned, perceptions of migrant workers’ rights, and freedom to appreciate some kind of art – to view art at their convenience, a few hours only once a week.

Besides choosing a carnival time suiting the bulk of Little India’s visitors, the issues of  “greater consideration for migrant workers, in Singapore and promoting good employee- employer relations” are probably not directly addressed. Nor are issues of globalisation, colonial-lord-supremacy attitude that Singaporeans might have, are not clearly and explicitly announced here. The exhibition seemed to be a ‘social sculpture’,  in the Joseph Beuys Utopian tradition, championing the social, cultural and political function and potential of art – reducing the prejudice migrant workers face. The people who need to pay attention probably would not find themselves in the middle of Little India on a busy Sunday evening when the art carnivals when held.  while utopian ideals are targets and barely achievable, judging from the crowds, the exhibition must still be a roaring successful, and a fine example of public art engagement.

Main website:

http://raisedproject.blogspot.com/

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(artwork by Amanda Heng, printed vinyl banner)

other links:
The photo essay featuring photographs of and photographs by migrant workers. http://www.thephotoessay.com/ (accessed Oct 2, 2007)

Migrant Voices, http://www.migrantvoices.org/ (accessed Oct 2, 2007)

Transient Workers Count too, http://twc2.org.sg/site/ (accessed Oct 2, 2007)

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Mind of a City by Judy Cheung

As simple as soap
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(Image with the kind permission of the artist and gallery)

The works by Judy Cheung offer a simple escape from the urban competitive bustle and hassle, by creating a series of low fidelity, low-cost procedures and ‘interactive games’. The works are comparatively raw, relationally charged to energize your low spirits, like a self-help book telling you that you are not as worse off as you think.

The exhibition requires the facet of a child to appreciate – lots of imagination and appreciation for the simple home-made handicraft things in life. The work that got me hung up on are a stack of home-made transparent soap, with the words ‘family’, ‘friends’, ‘power’, ‘milieu’, symbolic of the various ‘achievements’ or ‘goals’ in one’s life. It is ironic that with each handling and use, they erode and grow thin, a power metaphor for the in-permanence and flux of our priorities in life as we age. Or should there be permanent priorities like ‘family’, where ‘blood is thicker than water’ and ideals like ‘love’?

The works are conceptually charged to give to the viewer, more than most artworks. They are supposed to ‘heal’ or ‘message’ tired shoulders and bruised egos. Perhaps the exhibition demands less, like a walk in a park as opposed to an expensive day-out to an entertainment centre and it should not be as high-fidelity as I usually would have liked it. Otherwise, it does trigger some thought about the need to relax, but it does not give me the urge to keep to it. Perhaps what the exhibition needs is a more consolidated strategy to relate to the intended (Singaporean) audience, works that are slightly larger to fill the space, and a booth to boot the viewer to respond to the work with a built in recorder, to record our deeper, darker city-living, rising costs laments.

Mind of a City

(3.0 of 10 stars)

ARTIST’S TALK BY JUDY CHEUNG
6th October 2007 (Saturday)
2-4pm onwards

FREE ADMISSION
 

PKW Gallery,
Exhibition runs from 21st September till 6th October 2007

“Mind of a City” is initiated as a dual-site project between Singapore and Vancouver. These two cities are paralleled as to suggest an ideal geographic landscape, characterized by multiculturalism, tourism, and complex government structures still burdened with complex social problems. As a participatory installation, it involves the production of a skill enhancement program strategically set up in a gallery, juxtaposing technology and the “think Green” concept.
 
The work offers a non-linear, goal-orientated proposition to the contemporary urban environment, while examining critically the view that art, as a form of communication, is meant to elate the senses. As an assimilation of intellectual, social, and special/functional consciousness, the project references a society fraught with repression, anxiety and stress.  Simultaneously, the experiential process of attending an ingenious skill enhancement program provides moments of whimsical inspiration in a gallery setting.
 
Judy Cheung had exhibited across Canada, USA, Europe and Hong Kong. Her works were showcased in the 9th Havana Biennial 2006. Cheung’s essay, “On Throwing”, was part of the catalogue, published by Earl Lu Gallery for Site + Sight, Translating Cultures, 2003.  Her innovative projects have been reviewed in gallery catalogues and magazines such as Canadian Art Magazine and Yishu Magazine.