Monthly Archives: May 2008

Incident traces (1) by Bruce Q

An empty experience

The show room which makes up post-museum, has never been more empty for a show. Desolate plinths, freshly painted white walls greet the viewer, with hardly any description to explain the work, or lack thereof. A printed guide full of undecipherable gibberish text ‘explains’ the works. The young artist, Bruce Q must be risking a lot to stage such an exhibition, given the historical significance of such absence in Singapore and abroad. If we take the mass email description as any guideline, “an exhibition about exhibition”, it might shed some light on a few possible meanings.

Joan Kee, in an article titled “Envisaging Hollowness in Contemporary Singapore”, published in Art Journal, Vol. 60, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001), argued that art in Singapore was vacuous in meaning, dire circumstances in heightened urban living. Perhaps Q’s ‘incident traces’ reflect the vacuous process and meaning-making of art in a nation caught up in wanting to be World Class, and forgetting how to make art – art that connects with a society.

On another level, the work might possibly reference artist Lim Tzay-Chuen’s antics of brandishing a renovated empty substation gallery, as a piece of work Space Alteration #7 (2001). The next nearest reference, other than conceptual empty galleries in the 70’s, would be an exhibition in Cardiff in 2006, Gallery Space Recall by Simon Pope, encouraging viewers to ‘discuss memories of other galleries’.

The game of extreme conceptual art is very tricky. Either you get it or you don’t. British artist Martin Creed’s controversial The Lights Going On and Off (2001) features an empty gallery with a pair of lights that turn on or off. Given this ‘no show’, absence of any explanation, the viewer is left to ponder, or leave quickly for fair-trade coffee next door. it seems this exhibition is more important for the artist than for us, treading precariously between a daring statement about contemporary art in Singapore, and a bad stale, well-rehearsed argument about contemporary art.

Till May 16, 2008

Post-Museum, 107 Rowell Road

Democratic Art at IKEA

On my way to grab dinner, after purchasing a $9 AS-IS dish rack (usual price: $70) at a surprise IKEA ground floor auction, I chanced upon Democratic Art Singapore, on the second floor. Featuring 4 local artists (Safarudidin Abdul Hamid, Lim Bee Ling, Shubigi Rao, and a photographer), and mentioned in the Straits Times on Thursday (?), May 1, 2008.

The works consisted of edition of prints, each retailing for S$299.  While these are a fraction of  the cost of artist’s prints from STPI, they are well made and do explore various aspects of urban living. Shubigi Rao investigates notions of personal dwellings as cave dwellings, and the definitive expansion of caves into high rise flats in the light of land scarcity; Lim Bee Ling on buses as public transport, the deliberate mis-prints to me represented the times buses do not turn up on time, or 4 at a time; Dyn on public housing in estrange choice of psychedelic colours perhaps highlighting the ubiquitous architecture that dot our landscape and how they represent a national psyche.

While the themes explored concern all of us, much remains to be seen how pop art style can be successfully translated into democratic art, just as how IKEA designs are described as democratic and for the people and environment.

Other Interesting articles, related to IKEA and Art:

Daniel Burnbaum, IKEA at the End of Metaphysics, 1996, accessed May 3, 2008,

Buck Clifford Rosenberg, Scandinavian Dreams: DIY, Democratisation and IKEA, 2005, accessed May 3, 2008,

Extra Value Meal

under-sized, but worth quite a few calories

featuring playfully McDonald’s inspired works by Joo Choon Lin, Chun Kai Feng and Chun Kai Qun

Bathed in a light dose of UV light, the framed works in the gallery seem to beckon one’s attention, more so than the 2 monitors placed below eye level, suggesting that the viewer sits. There are at least 8 prints on the wall, 1 paper sculptural piece that resembles an American Happy Meal house complete with withered tree and picket fences, and table with an aluminum tray, paper sculpture shaped like a fast food burger, fries and drink meal.

The humble gallery is nicely filled with new experimental works from the trio who completed Fine Art courses from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art in 2007. Except for Chun Kai Feng who did a solo show at the Esplanade tunnel-linkway also in 2007, this is the first show Joo Choon Lin and Chun Kai Qun are exhibiting, a sign of commitment to their crafts of manipulative decoupage and printmaking respectively. The stop-motion animation short films created are elementary experiments (compared to their previous works), being more ‘analogous to visual poetry than to prose story-telling’. The rawness, jerky low frame rate, static camera angles show an impatience of the media.

But the low-fidelity of the stop-motion works visually with the more meaningful prints adorning the walls, a potentially explosion of colours if the artist or gallery had access to larger wall mounted LCD screens. By placing the monitors to face each other, one showing a 80’s arcade game styled music, MTV bollywood-styled dance by alternative fast food galore of french fries, patties and burger buns, the other showing transformer fast food toys flying around a stage, strutting their imaginary weapons of make-believe destruction, in Ironman style.

The more successful works in conveying a sense of significance and social message are the multi-coloured edition prints on the wall. While the UV light only enhances the ‘frame’, creating a luminous border, it does little to emphasize the multi-coloured inks in the foreground, if only if they had a darker background to contrast with. These prints are consistent in subject matter, quirky, bizarre in humour and sinister when we relate the effects a typical fast food meal could impact on our calories and nutrition intake, or if we relate it to the book Fast Food Nation (2001) by Eric Schlosser or documentary film Super Size Me (2004) by Morgan Spurlock.

The success of the exhibition seems to hinge on the viewers awareness of Fast Food Nation (2001) and Super Size Me (2004), unless you are a big fan of Sesame Street tongue in cheek stop-motion fillers. Failure to appreciate these two industry shocking readings or exposes, the irony in the prints are severely under-sized. If we were to indicate the amount of calories this exhibition holds in terms of creative-calories one daily needs, the diversity of works nicely packs a couple of meals, but the display, especially the prints could be better and more audience friendly.

60% of daily creative-calories intake.

Extra Value Meal

Your MOTHER gallery, till June 30, 2008
91A Hindoo Road
Singapore 209126
tel: +65 97877874
tel: +65 63963310
by appointment only