Monday 2 February 2015

10 Questions with | Luca Lum

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
Part-workaholic, part-vegetable, 100% maladjusted young adult and/or 50% type A 50% type B, 100% blood-flesh-bone-sentience-darkenergy.

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
When I was eighteen I had the choice of doing either English Literature locally or the Visual Arts overseas. The latter felt like something I had been hurtling towards since the beginning of time, and that very defined and singular trajectory threw me a little at the time, so I picked the former. I turned to Curating Lab as a sort of segue-way, a kind of return to the space of artistic production from a different angle.

3. What has been your most onerous moment of Curating Lab so far?
I'm in charge of exhibition-related tasks. Most recently, I've been stressed about administrative stuff, generating the index of items to loan from Shubigi and writing the labels for the works, a key pitstop in materialising the exhibition. In some ways this is it, this is the point you really gather the materials, the point you materially define the boundaries of your concept for you to play with later on in the space. I think it's pretty clear that I'm uncomfortable with closure. With Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse, we loaned a lot of items — components of installations, marginalia, and books. We were a bit excessive, but due to the nature of Shubigi's work and our concept, it felt like there was no other way to do it. This meant that while other groups were drawing up spreadsheets for the loan of maybe four to five artworks, I had a 15-page document of more than 30 items. For legal reasons, we have to make sure every detail is accounted for. When my document comes back to me with factual and/or typographical errors, it's torturous, not just because I have to correct it, but because this work is shared it delays the work for everyone else along the email chain — the administrative staff, the legal office. This practical process has been formative, a reminder about the nuts and bolts part of curating that is often not as visible, illuminating in the same manner as running into a glass wall — you only realise what you are up against when you are banged up against it, counting your bruises.

4. Tell us about Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse.
"The crocodile signifies a pirate, murderer, or a man who is no less wicked. The way in which the crocodile treats the dreamer determines the way in which he will be treated by the person who is represented by the crocodile. The cat signifies an adulterer. For it is a bird-thief. And birds resemble women, as I have already pointed out in the first book."
— Artemidorus, Book II of Oneirocritica*, 2nd century AD

5. Tell us about your curatorial journey.
Along the way I realised the parallels between essay writing and curating, and that the tenets that make up a great essay are also the keystones of a potentially interesting show. Both are expeditions you can't wholly plan for. It's driving to a mythic destination, like El Dorado or something. You're not even sure it exists or what it looks like, for sure. You begin with an interesting albeit nebulous concept and find ways to get there. If you think you have all the variables mapped out, you don't, and/or you're trying to get to El Dorado via highway Route 66 and end up at the Hollywood sign or something. Really, your curatorial destination is plural, and each audience member is going to find a different one, if they find one at all, which also isn't to say they haven't. I was really anxious about controlling the variables of a curatorial project (and I still am), but am getting the feeling that an element of not being able to totally compute your outcome might be a good thing and I am trying to obey that instinct. I realised the ends of a curatorial project are constantly negotiable, and if we define a thing by its contours or its parts, then the curatorial is in some ways also the chimerical, a monster we can't really name.

6. What is / has been the most exciting thing about your exhibition?
The fact that there's something still surprising about it — a potentiality — even though I've been thinking about it with my co-conspirators for months.

7. What’s next for you?
I've just graduated — so, a road trip, hopefully: I need the open road, temporary shelter, and the company of strangers. I know that I want to write again — poems, short fiction, non-fiction essays. I have some projects lined up, one of which would be to help Kenneth Tay out with NUS Museum's 2015 programme, Concrete Island. And probably a job, at some point.

8. Favourite book.
A menage-a-trois of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

9. Favourite artwork.
Today, Taryn Simon's An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar.

10. Favourite local art space.
Institutionally: The NUS Museum, because of its peculiarities that it makes as its modus operandi (I am probably biased)

*Oneirocritica is an ancient Greek treatise on dream interpretation

Friday 23 January 2015

Exhibition Programmes | Curating Lab: Phase 03 [1 February]

Telok Kurau Studios
Date: Sunday, 1 February 2015
Time: 2 - 6.30pm
Venue: #01-109, Telok Kurau Studios, 91 Lorong J Telok Kurau

Free with registration at


The following series of programmes are presented in conjunction with Curating Lab: Phase 03.

Shifting Representations 
4pm                 Tea reception 
4.30pm            Traversing Spaces

2 - 4pm | Shifting Representations

in conjunction with Conditions of Production
Lina Adam, artist
Wang Ruobing, artist and independent curator
Dr Margaret Tan, Tembusu College, NUS

Shifting Representations, three speakers will share about their experiences in the arenas of the personal and public as creative producers, and discuss the shifting roles and representations stemmed from these changing contexts. With an open view towards what constitutes creative production, the conversations will focus on the multiple roles within and outside different commitments that women artists hold - as mothers, daughters, educators, artists - and how these roles determine or affect artistic production. By discussing these multiple roles and going beyond the public view of an artist or performer, we may glean insight into different representations of the ‘artist’.

4.30 - 6.30PM | Traversing Spaces

in conjunction with Conditions of Production 
Tan Liting, theatre practitioner 
Chu Chu Yuan, artist
Raksha Mahtani,
researcher and theatre practitioner
Traversing Spaces deliberates on the artist as citizen, tapping on the experiences of arts practitioners who seek to innovate and transform perspectives around space. It will reflect and expand on the subject of space beyond the physical, exploring its numerous complexities in the realms of the ideological, socio-political and the experiential. Delving into forms of civic engagement stemmed from their artistic practices or experiences in the creative sphere, the speakers may discuss views within civil society, the interplay between the public and private, and the shaping of communities. 

About the speakers
Lina Adam is a multi-disciplinary artist and has used various mediums such as performance, printmaking and art installation. Her work involves the scope of dissecting agents of socialization and habits dealing with but not limited to memories, environment and systems of daily life. She is the co-founder of Fetterfield, Singapore Performance Art Event, a site specific performance art festival (founded in 2006) and Your Mother Gallery, an alternative art space in Little India (founded in 2004). She has also been a committee member of The Artists Village since 1998.

Wang Ruobing was born in Chengdu, China and lives and works in Singapore. Comprising installation, sculpture, photograph and video, Wang’s work has a contingent quality that is underlined by the mindful representation of everyday activities. Her materials and subjects are often simple, everyday objects and things, but wittily resonant of the issues relate to consumption and the growth of knowledge. Solo exhibitions include The Earthly World, The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford (2010); Eat Me, The Dolphin Gallery, Oxford (2009); Seeded I, The Substation Gallery, Singapore (1999).

Margaret Tan is currently a Fellow and Director of Programmes at Tembusu College, National University of Singapore (NUS), and the co-director of the NUS Art/ Science Residency Programme. She holds a PhD from the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore, a BFA from RMIT/LASALLE College of the Arts, and an MA in Interactive Media and Critical Theory from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her works using a wide range of media had been showcased both locally and internationally. Margaret engages art now as a teacher and administrator but she hopes to return to her art practice some time in the future.

Tan Liting works full time as a theatre practitioner with an interest in devising performance from personal stories. Liting is also a founding member of Theatre Cell. Her past directorial credits include Taking The Subs (The Substation Director’s Lab), The Eulogy Project I: Muah Chee Mei and I (Potluck Productions), (When I’m) Sixty Four (Ageless Theatre), Re: Almost Left Behind (Singapore Arts Festival 2011), Almost Left Behind (NUS Thespis). Liting likes conversation, hearing and telling a good story. Liting also likes guitars, sneakers and referring to herself in third person.

Chu Chu Yuan is a visual artist and researcher, born in Malaysia and currently based in Singapore. With Jay Koh on the iFIMA (International Forum for Intermedia Art) platform, she has been developing a form of relational art practice that is based on dialogue, exchange and negotiation. She maintains an individual practice, using soft sculptures, drawing, installation, performance, painting and photography to explore the performing body as a cultural subject and cultural practices as ‘scripts’ and ‘scores’. She is now with the Singapore Art Museum as Senior Manager of Archive, Library & Research.

Raksha Mahtani functions occasionally as a writer, researcher, spoken word poet and theatre practitioner. She performed, co-wrote and co-directed a spoken word show about queer experiences in convent schools called Mass Hysteria both at the Substation in January 2014 and at Indignation 2014. She teaches poetry and literature in schools and with various groups, including AWARE and Word Forward and performs as part of Sekaliwags. Her writing, both in poetry and plays, explores themes of social justice, gender politics, decoloniality. She recently ran a series of writing workshops focused on gender-based violence, and volunteers with Sayoni. Currently, Raksha is working on a documentation project on violence and discrimination against LBTQ people in Singapore.



Shifting Representations from nusmuseum on Vimeo.
Traversing Spaces from nusmuseum on Vimeo.

Exhibition Programmes | Curating Lab: Phase 03 [31 January]

Curating Lab: Phase 03
Date: Saturday, 31 January 2015
Time: 10am - 6.30pm
Venue: NUS Museum

Free admission with registration at


The following series of programmes are presented in conjunction with Curating Lab: Phase 03.

10am                Pictureshow: Nodes of Looking
11.15am           Tea reception
11.30am           Pictureshow: Nodes of Looking (continued)
                Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book
                 Notes from the (under)ground

10am - 1pm | Pictureshow: Nodes of Looking
in conjunction with Pictureshow

Stefano Harney, Ground Provisions collective
A/P Stuart Derbyshire, Dept of Psychology, NUS
A/P Maurizio Peleggi, Dept of History, NUS
Shubigi Rao, artist
Kannan Chandran, publisher (moderator)

Pictureshow: Nodes of Looking is an attempt to spark cross-disciplinary conversations about perception as a means of knowledge production. This mini-lecture series bring together speakers from various fields of study and aspires to nurture a comfortable and constructive space for ‘looking’ from multiple vantage points. Through an exposure to multitudinous nodes of perception, participants are invited to explore ‘looking’ beyond its literal sensorial quality and inspire meaningful conversations about the diverse manifestations ‘looking’ can take. Expounding on different registers afforded by the neurological, historical and material, the symposium provides an occasion and platform for the unpacking of various perceptual issues beyond the artistic sphere.

3 - 4pm | Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book
in conjunction with Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse
with Shubigi Rao, artist

Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book is a decade-long film, book and visual art project about the history of book destruction. Join Shubigi Rao as she shares her preliminary interviews, observations and vignettes from ‘Pulp’ as she visits public and private collections, libraries and archives around the world to retrace the disappearance of ideas long gone.

4 - 6.30pm | Notes from the (under)ground
in conjunction with Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse
A/P Farish A Noor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU
A/P John Miksic, Dept of Southeast Asian Studies, NUS
Koh Nguang How, archivist and artist
Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, writer and independent curator

MACBETH: […] I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other. (1.7.1)
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Tread through a labyrinth of vault-less ambitions as we trawl through 700 year-old garbage, b-grade adventure stories, tabloid junk, material assemblage and inert email threads. At times a roll-call, a reportage, a reconstruction and restitution, this session examines the outliers of culture — civil waste, popular paraphernalia, itinerant memories.


(*Due to a technical problem, Part 1 of Pictureshow: Nodes of Looking was not captured on video)
Pictureshow: Nodes of Looking [Part 2] | Shubigi Rao & Stuart Derbyshire from nusmuseum on Vimeo.

Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book from nusmuseum on Vimeo.

Notes from the (under)ground from nusmuseum on Vimeo.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

10 Questions with | Wong Yeang Cherng

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
I am obsessed with the passing of time; I dwell too much on the past; I remember too many redundant details.

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
I received an email from NUS Museum about Curating Lab; it had been two years since I received any news about the programme.
I have always fancied curating my very own exhibition.
I applied after my final paper ended.
I went for the interview and I got selected.
I turned up for the Curatorial Intensive.
There you go~!
But really, how does ever anyone know how they end up somewhere?

3. What has been your *sigh* moment of Curating Lab so far?
On the bumboat ride back to mainland Singapore after all that awesome that is Pulau Ubin and the seafood feast.

4. Tell us about Pictureshow.
It is simply an exhibition about the experience of looking at art. It questions exactly how does one make sense of works that mean nothing at first glance? I mean, what do you think of when you see a work? More than encouraging the audience to derive messages, meanings or lessons from the works on display, Pictureshow strives to be a space for spectators to be comfortable and honest with themselves — to take comfort in uncertainties and decide from themselves what they want the art work to mean or perhaps not to mean anything in the least.

5. Tell us about your curatorial journey.

I hadn’t had the words to explain my curatorial journey until I chanced upon this advertorial text for a construction firm while working in the office one day. It was printed on the back of a complimentary post-it pad. Very simply, the text documents quite straightforwardly (or maybe not) my journey with curating as a concept, methodology and a vocation, albeit in a very tongue-in-cheek manner; also, quite cheesy.

6. What is / has been the most exciting thing about your exhibition?
For sure, the trunking! Visitors, please take a moment to admire the (also) work of art that is the coated-in-silver-duct-tape trunking at our exhibition! We (Euginia, Selene, Jia Yun and I) and the Uncle Electricians are glad to have left our mark in the exhibition space alongside the spectacular artists on show. I’m assuming…

7. What’s next for you?
Off the top of my head, I’m working really hard on waking up at 7 am each morning so my day will seem and effectively be considerably longer. Just very mundane pursuits really.

8. Favourite book(s)
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

These are my own personal copies (thus the bad lighting).

My favourite page from the book.

9. Favourite artwork.
Sorry, I haven’t found it yet.

10. Favourite local art space.
CoffeeExpress 2000.
Sells good bakchormee too.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

10 Questions with | Bernice Ong

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
Hi, my name is Bernice Ong. 

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
A forwarded link from a friend, an application, an interview, and magic! But primarily, I was looking for another project to be part of, guess I projectified myself well enough to end up here.

3. What has been your coolest moment of Curating Lab so far?
Hong Kong was pretty cool. Not a fan of large group trips, had thought I was past the age of excursions. But yeah, that was real cool. Thanks NAC! Another please?

4. Tell us about Conditions of Production.
May I simply insert our exhibition blurb:  COP is an ongoing project that seeks to pursue a field of enquiry situating objects and process within the complexities of artistic production and reception. To emulate the plurality of situations where artistic discourse may arise, this project calls attention to less tangible structures immanent in the creation of an artwork by adopting the multiple platforms of an exhibition, dialogue sessions, and an online repository of interviews and essays.

5. Tell us about your curatorial journey.
I’m a bit hesitant to latch on to this lab experience as a journeying towards a destination. I suppose, I have found it to be more about practicing my ninja eyes and ninja chops, observing and thinking about what the world needs more of, daring to ask those questions, being critical, practical, and trusting your intuition. Funny story, my group had looked at (artistic) ‘post-fertility’ as a starting point, and now we’re into the conditions of production. Ok…

6. What is the most exciting thing about your exhibition?
For me, the exhibition is as much about the unseen, as it is about the exhibited. We have three main artworks which I think dialogue really well with each other: a light fixture L O D N H A C G E E K of Chun Kaifeng's which for me exists as a sort of urban beacon, the documentary images of Matthew Ngui’s public art project TIMBRE!! that had come only partially into existence, and Amanda Heng’s intimate embrace with her mother in a beautiful photographic image Twenty Years Later.

7. What’s next for you?
Plodding on through life, finding more work as a freelancer. I’m onto a range of jobs, as theatre technician, set builder etc. and looking to get paid for my art and curatorial labour someday.

8. Favourite book.

9. Favourite artwork.
Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915)

10. Favourite local art space.
HDB estates are my favourite observatories. When days were much freer, I enjoyed taking the elevator up random flats facing large construction sites to peer beneath the hoarding.

Friday 2 January 2015

10 Questions with | Cheng Jia Yun

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
 An unassuming walking contradiction.
2. How did you end up in Curating Lab? 
An itch to make something, to put your best conceptual foot forward and do up the laces in real time/in real life needed to be scratched and Curating Lab promised the biggest satiation of itch-relief. I have many at the Gallery to thank for very generously recognizing and supporting my itch-relief efforts.

3. What has been your most prized moment of Curating Lab so far? 
There are too many prizes! And none too many consolation ones, either! My constant fangirly discovery of more to admire in everyone who’s part of the programme, mentors and participants alike, be it a new novel or a fixation with a certain concept or a fantastic piece of kit – that sense of sharing is something prized; immutable; fleeting. Zealously attacking the contents of Safe Sea with cleaning brushes together, first inhabiting Spring Workshop as this loose mass of acquaintances, and then slowly breaking ice by facing fire, crit by crit, deadline by deadline, wall text by wall text, sweat by sweat, freeze and melt, wah buay tahan until song. In the lead up to our exhibition, the artists/artist’s estates we are working with, who amaze with how patient (,tolerant) and kind they are with our young attempts, learning more about how they are pushing the envelope in their own directions, my teammates YC, Euginia and Selene are very precious and vital to the whole education that is Curating Lab, always able to Doraemon that extra ounce of energy and patience to push our adventure one step forward.

4. What do you do at the National Gallery? 
I’m a Curatorial Assistant with the Southeast Asia Gallery at the moment, involved in a lateral assortment of tasks that include research, infrastructure and amazing paperwork, currently focused on the 1970s and up.
5. Has your understanding of curating changed since being part of Curating Lab? 
I think it has acquired a much more tangible character, because of how raw the process is in working one (or four)-on-one with the artists, and having such a privilege to be able to talk about their processes, their considerations and their artistic machinations and then be in charge of the responsibility to respond to that curatorially is equally terrifying and rewarding at the same time.

6. Why does the world need curators?
Why does the world need humans? I think curators help us remember parts of ourselves or elements of experience that we neglect, aside from ordering content for us to show off about knowing later. Empowered by artists, they can, like great shampoo, revitalize existence, and, on occasion, jolt us out of the amnesia of living. 

7. What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
I’ll be seeing the Gallery through to the opening in 2015, but between then and now, I foresee the itch persisting and it being scratched through more thought and more collaboration. 

8. Favourite book.
Because I’ve been susceptible to alternate worlds lately, I’d have to say Dune by Herbert Read/the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. 

9. Favourite artwork.
Untitled photographic print taken by a friend of mine; my first purchase 

10. Favourite local art space.
Hanis CafĂ© at NLB. No one ever knows what’s being discussed there of course, but there’s been a lot of percolating going on, I assure you.

Friday 26 December 2014

10 Questions with | Raksha Mahtani

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
I occasionally function as performer-poet, writer-researcher, activist-curator, and at other times, read poetry to myself while undesirably occupying public spaces.

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
A rave, a rant, a referral, but also, delusions of grandeur.

3. What has been your most poignant moment of Curating Lab so far?
Best moment: seeing a Queer Film in Ten Million Years of Yearning: Sex in Hong Kong, about a love story between a girl and a paper-eating ghost. The absurdity of the girl getting angry at the ghost and saying, “Do you mind asking me first before you eat my diary?” compounded with realizing that there is space for things I want to curate: space that is community-focused, political, performative, reformative, beautiful. 

4. Tell us about the projects you are involved in.
Aside from curating, I am part of a four-woman poetry troupe, Sekaliwags. I am currently teaching a series of creative-writing workshops focused on gender-based violence entitled “Body/Language” with AWARE. We have been conducting these workshops with various groups: volunteers at H.O.M.E, participants of a Malay Muslim support group Gender Equality is Our Culture and LGBTQ youth group G-Spot, among others. I am also working on a documentation of violence and discrimination against LBTQ people with Sayoni.

5. What should I look out for in the next few months (Jan-Mar)?
Wonder. Look twice before you cross the road. Look twice before you criticize. Jan to March will be a time for reflection. More events, especially Sekaliwags-related coming in June / July.

6. How has being in a curating programme changed how you approach your work?
It’s expanded my field of vision, given birth to new possibilities, a new way of approaching space, object, sentiment, ressentiment.  

7. Favourite book.
Skepticism, Inc. by Bo Fowler. It’s about a sentient supermarket trolley that tries to climb Mt Everest while his best friend starts a metaphysical betting service and tries to conquer the world.

8. Favourite artwork.
Tsai Ming-Liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn, for its cinematic absence.

9. Current favourite poet.
Anything Warsan Shire.

10. Favourite local art space.
The Substation.