Wednesday 10 September 2014

journal | Pulau Gillman

by Bernice Ong 
Centre for Contemporary Art, Gillman Barracks 

       On some days, the journey to the Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (CCA) feels a little like a pilgrimage from the far-eastern end of Singapore where I live. It is more than just a physical traversing of space. To step out of a technical role in theatre production, and into a primarily desk-bound job is a change surely. Thrown into the thick of things, as we consider and ponder the quotations from different companies bidding to be appointed our Theatrical Fields show-build contractor, it does feel pretty great to be privy to such decision-making processes. Given access to the exhibition planning process from the beginning of our internship, one of my first jobs was to draw up a timeline indicating work that was to be done by the contractors. I pondered the necessity of laying out such a clear sequence of tasks for the show-build contractor, but also quietly, really enjoyed drawing up a table and organising the necessary information. I love running about and working with my hands, but man, can I get pretty obsessive once I dive into administrative mode!

       Interestingly, working in the Barracks does not actually accord me with more time to hang around the art galleries there in spite of my close proximity. However, the Post-PopUp program with Post-Museum (13 June - 30 October 2014) has introduced a constancy of talks at their premises, and does provide some benefit to being in the area as they are scheduled in the evenings after work hours.

       Oh, what can I say. My favourite option is Sum Kee Food in Telok Blangah, introduced by Samantha Yap - SilverLens assistant and other curating lab extraordinaire. Otherwise, it’s a trip across Alexandra Road, through a space-age tunnel, into some office tower, before descending into a car park, which gives access to a food court full of office workers. A bit of a trek to be honest.

       Unfortunately, our time at the CCA is a short-lived one. The office space of 7 Lock Road is also but a temporary one. The studio residencies are by their nature programmed in periods. And so does the name of Post-Museum’s ‘Post-PopUp’ inclusion point to its impermanence. But, being confronted by the transience of such arrangements is not all that undesirable. In my own practice as an artist, I am hugely attracted to construction sites not because I love them, but because I get really annoyed at them. Onsite research processes affords me understanding, as any prolonged discovery has got to be beneficial; I am therefore able to flip this annoyance on its head the more I engulf myself within these transitioning spaces. Changing spaces also hint at a constant renewal. In the arts, although the affordability of time offers stability with long-term benefits, I think working within limitations can also spur us on towards more creative synergy as we consciously expound on what we have.

       I have a dream of setting up an arts centre to support and connect emerging and established artists. Being at the CCA offered a good insight into the running of an organization in terms of exhibition management. Each one of us in our group had been assigned to a specific area to immerse ourselves in, and although I would have loved to have jumped more into research, it was equally wonderful to have been able to assist and observe the process of planning for Theatrical Fields’ exhibition space.

Theatrical Fields is on from 23 August - 31 October 2014
Exhibition Centre: 34 Malan Road, Singapore 109443
Opening Hours: Tue to Sun 12-7pm, Fri 12-9pm

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