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 Café 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.

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