Wednesday, 26 November 2014

10 Questions with | Samantha Yap

Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
I’m like all the other girls; I’m Samantha, an arts management graduate since two years ago, gallery girl since seven months ago, a twin since 21 years ago, I enjoy being long-winded, my perennial passions lie in feminism, visual culture, twin-ness, dystopia and eschatology and the romance of many things.

How did you end up in Curating Lab?
I found out about it in 2012 but didn’t felt ready to apply then. Two years later, I still didn’t felt ready. It was May and I had only just left school a few months ago. I was only in my third month at Silverlens and I still felt very raw. But. I realized I would never ever be ready, so I applied and I’m here. It’s been great, I’ve been learning so much from my peers.

What has been your favorite moment(s) in Curating Lab so far?
Visits to Amanda Heng’s studio – curry puffs, chamomile tea, conversations and Conditions of Production.

Photo (right) by Bernice
Group discussions over food, laughter and drinks.

What do you do at Silverlens Galleries? What should I know about Silverlens?
Photos by (left) Germaine and (right) Melvin.
I’m the gallery assistant at Silverlens. I do a little bit of this and that, everything and nothing.

I do some of the administrative grunt work that goes behind undertaking art fairs or setting up exhibitions. I sometimes smile at visitors too. Contrary to common belief, I don’t detest my job scope; I see it as a very important and often overlooked aspect of the exhibition-making process and by further extension, even the curatorial. I’m happy to assist. I’m absorbing a lot just from being here, whether as a shadow or a self.

Silverlens (Manila and Singapore) was founded by Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo in 2004. It started out as a photography gallery but has since branched out to encompass and engage other forms of contemporary art. 

What’s something I value a lot about (being in) Silverlens: the women. Buzz words: art world equality.

What has been your most memorable exhibition at the gallery?
Photos by Silverlens Galleries
99% by Gary-Ross Pastrana. A show of just one work.

Art within its own set of valuation. Gary’s sculpture, noticeably, 99 percent metal parts and one percent gold, is the strange opposite of what it appears to be. He acquired an old car, got it scrapped and sold most of the scraps, save for one small percent. The money earned was in turn used to buy gold – which took the form of a small golden ball dangling inconspicuously like a Christmas ornament. Everything else is the initial one percent of the car scraps that he had put aside.  

I can’t just pick one. I’m going to squeeze in another.

My favorite show at Silverlens, so far in my time, with them is The First Kiss on Earth by Chati Coronel.

Chati imagines the kiss in a time before language, deliberating on the possibilities of unifying and separating forces being one and the same. These series of paintings were very real to me, speaking to a dull unidentifiable ache…perhaps the enduring ache of our times, an affliction stirred by the desire for union and connection.

Has your understanding of curating changed since being part of Curating Lab?
Of course. Off course. Many times, it has meandered and presumably gone off course but I find that these detours can be productive.

What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
At present, I am still trying to figure the future out. More tangibly, I am preparing for our last show of the year at Silverlens. I am trying to plan my vacation. Right at this moment, I’m thinking a lot about Uterus Man by tech artist Lu Yang. Curatorial activism (via Maura Reilly) has also been a lot on my mind. Not so presently but always urgently at the back of my mind, I am trying to come up with a show proposal for Silverlens next year.

What’s next is:
Cowboy Bebop, 1999.

Probably University. Probably trying to concretize some ideas, work on new projects. Probably nothing.

Favourite books.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

I’m currently reading Blue Nights by Joan Didion. I’ve been reading this book slowly and consistently since Curating Lab started. It’s been a torrid six-month affair. The book makes me sad. It keeps me awake.

Favourite artists.
I’m really enjoying the works of Lee Bul and Amalia Ullman right now.
(left) Lee Bul, Cyborg Red, Cyborg Blue, 1997–98.
(right) Lee Bul: From Me, Belongs to You Only installation view.
Photos from zootmagazine.
Excellences & Perfections, 2014 (detail). Performance: Instagram. Source.
Favourite local art space.
Gillman Barracks ;)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

10 Questions with | Chua Ying Qing

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
Ah I’m terrible with stuff like this, because I’ll be everything I describe, and then less. (When cornered, as in Veni Weedy Vici, a description like this would appear: Ying Qing writes and muses on language, culture, music and theatre. She tumbled headfirst into conceptual art one Wednesday and now wades in/out of the zeitgeist with her partners-in-crime.)

Photo Credit: Selene Yap

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
Well I have been drawn to the process involved in curating from the very beginning, although it was mostly in the space of writing, theatre, and exhibitions; when I heard about Curating Lab, I thought maybe it was time for me to start talking to people who are actually doing it for real, instead of just doing these thought experiments on my own.

3. What has been the defining moment of Curating Lab so far?
Probably meeting all the artists and curators along the way. I’m pretty new to the visual arts scene, so hearing all these voices firsthand definitely led me onto some interesting trails.
Photo Credit: Luca Lum

4. What should I know about Veni, Weedy, Vici (akupendatang, lalang, penakluk)?
It is an exhibition that features three works -  “Weeding Singapore” by Isabelle Desjeux, “(Re)Thinking Invasive Alien Species” by Sewon FoodLab, and “I Have Read and Agreed to the Following Terms and Conditions*” by NUSMUS and it’s part of the More than [show] business - Post-PopUp at CCA. It was one of our NUSMUS experiments and you know, it was probably our version of the NUS Museum prep room (transmuted - after too much time in the Lab :P).

5. How did you end up with I Have Read and Agreed to the Following Terms and Conditions*?
We were playing with the idea of time and space and you know being all existentialist, discussing how space shifts to accommodate us and how we alter ourselves to fit the space... we toyed with the notions of lost time, ‘other’ spaces, boundaries, control, parasitism, and somehow came up with this, or as Raksha affectionately calls it, one of the biggest lies of our time. There is also a distinct possibility that we were haunted by some of the Concrete Island passwords that were echoing at that time.

6. What was the biggest take-away from the show?
Besides all the observations/reactions that we recorded (which were pretty fascinating), I think it was the fact that we actually carried it out that was possibly the most liberating, because most of our ideas do not usually get past gestation period.  If it was for any other project, we would probably not have presented *T&C the way we did.

7. What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
I am working on a couple of projects at the moment so we’ll see how it goes.

8. Favourite book.
Oh dear, I wouldn’t be able to announce my allegiance to a single book, without feeling like I’ve betrayed the rest! Maybe I’ll just be faithful to what I am reading now – Georges Perec’s Esp├Ęces d’espaces and Nicholson Baker’s Traveling Sprinkler.

9. Favourite artwork. (First work that springs to mind)
Kim Nam Pyo’s.

10. Favourite local art space.
Nestled between/under covers.
Photo Credit: Koh Nguang How

Thursday, 13 November 2014

10 Questions with | Melvin Tan

1. Tell us about yourself in a sentence. 

Hi, I am Melvin Tan, a visual communications graduate from NTU ADM with interests in art & graphic design.

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
I knew of Curating Lab from my peers and thought it was a great programme to learn about exhibition-making. It suited my interests and the programme commenced at the point of my graduation. I applied and got through!

3. What has been your moment of Curating Lab so far?
Photo credit: Bernice & Samantha

Yesterday team CCA (Bernice, Samantha, Kenneth & myself) met at Liang Court to eat some Japanese food, but only after 8:30pm because it is 50% off. Then we proceeded to sit on the dark side of a pedestrian bridge along the river of Clarke Quay with Asahi Beer cans in our hands to talk about the exhibition. —I don't think there was a particular moment in the programme but making new friends, learning to work with each other and eventually warming up to each other is most precious.

4. What is FOCA? How does it work?

Free of Charge Artshow (FOCA) is an independent collective of five individuals who organize group shows addressing shifting concerns within, or running parallel to dominant cultural discourse, by way of documentation, dialogue and community building.

Nothing is really ‘free of charge’ irl, but I remembered we began with intentions of doing exhibitions by means of sheer generosity within the community. Free of charge can also mean ‘not controlled by certain responsibilities’, ‘not subjected to rules of’, ‘not fixed on one’s impetus’… etc. We like that.

5. What should I know about your exhibition?
Photo Credit: Jonathan Tan

Who’s Looking: Surf & Turf looks at the engagements with art today by different art audiences. It is a very loaded exhibition that engages with multiple entry points and elicits tangential discussions. We are happy with all the different readings people have with the show.

There is a post-event publication currently being done and we are working with a designer to come up with a digital/printed format that is going to be really crazy and exciting.

6. You co-curated the show and contributed artworks. How did this work out for you?
Photo Credit: Jonathan Tan

It went smoothly. I think it’s okay to contribute an artwork as part of the organizing team. What was critical was having to handle the workload and to make sure that the contribution was also meaningful.

7. What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
Currently I am mostly focused on my job and seeing where opportunities and my interests lead me to. I will just continue to work hard, maintain a sane level of creative urgency and stay grounded.
You can check out my art here. I deal with visual culture, aesthetics & the web. (My current research deals with the sublimity of cuteness.)

I also work for a bag design/manufacturing company called Uyii check it outz. Just for all you Curating Lab fans reading, you get 15% off all bags if you key in the code: curatinglab2014. Discount lasts for one month.

8. Favorite Book.
Photo credit: Experimental Jetset & Metahaven

I should have received my copy of All Possible Futures by Experimental Jetset now and will probably be reading it. Its writings are based off an exhibition on speculative design. Oh also I will kill to get a copy of Uncorporate Identity by Metahaven (Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk).

Artwork of the moment.
Photo credit: Mike Goldby

 At the moment all the canvas stretch works by Mike Goldby.

Favourite local art space.
Photo credit:

NUS Museum.