looking inwards by looking north
|Singapore Survey 2011: IMAGINE MALAYSIA|
Singapore’s separation from Malaysia is remembered differently by the inhabitants of the 2 nations. Many Singaporeans above the age of 50 would remember it as a teary exit, leading to Singapore’s independence. Malaysian politicians on the other hand, felt threatened while the guy in the street felt non-chalant about the way wind blows. The 2 countries are more intertwined than just historical and political affiliations. Malaysia was also Singapore’s cultural hinterland and shared similar immigration of artists from both the West and Asia. Many ‘pioneer’ artists Singapore claimed as its own too practiced in Malaya. Malaysians work in Singapore and contribute to our economy and society in more sectors I can name.
In this exhibition, Singapore artists’ have been given a task to respond to Singapore’s relationship to our neighbor up north. What transpired were bona fide, personal interpretations of diverse media. The exhibition is eclectic, consisting of paintings, photographs, videos, assemblages and live performances, demonstrating the richness of artistic expression. But the arrangement of works appear scattered and as a result not shown in their best light.
A few loud artworks stood out. Malaysian-born-Singaporean Heman Chong’s work melted the nostalgic sentiments to reveal feisty reactions on art and social grounds. The self-deprecating humor heightens the tensions between the two countries and questions the possibility of artistic and cultural exchanges.
Like the first annual Singapore group show, a local Contemporary Art Survey, the air-conditioned recession in 2009, this exhibition reframes looking inwards by looking north. If artworks reveals self-identity, than this exhibition collectively reveals Singapore artists’ interpretation of our national identity. Whether or not these messages are poeticised, or politicised would depend on the viewer or reader.
Valentine Wille Fine Art Gallery
Helutrans Artspace, Tanjong Pagar,
20 Jul 2011 – 04 Aug 2011