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

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