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