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.

Exhibition | Curating Lab: Phase 03

Opening night: 
Thursday, 8 January 2015, 7pm

Free admission with registration. 
To register, please email


Exhibition period: 9 January - 8 February 2015
Venue: Lee Kong Chian Temp Gallery, NUS Museum 

Curating Lab: Phase 03 presents three exhibitions put together by participants of Curating Lab 2014 working with a selection of artists: Song-Ming Ang, Chun Kaifeng, Amanda Heng, Kim Lim, Matthew Ngui and Shubigi Rao. Situated in tandem with one another, the exhibitions may be seen as a constellation of divergent views and curatorial interests glimpsed from the works and practices of these six artists. Building upon the potentials of multiple perspectives that these three exhibitions point towards is also the very porousness of exhibitions themselves in facilitating such encounters between one another.
Conditions of Production 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. The exhibition, as one part of a greater whole, examines these conditions by looking at the practice of three artists – Amanda Heng, Chun Kaifeng and Matthew Ngui.
Curated by: Bernice Ong, Samantha Yap, Kenneth Loe and Melvin Tan.

Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse combines a selection of Shubigi Rao's work with items from her personal library, and material that has never been exhibited publicly. "Waste", in Rao's work — as a material presence, underlying poetic logic, and anxiety — becomes a way of framing her oeuvre and process, and forms the exhibition's curatorial provocation. At once a kind of monologue and dialogue, a coded silence, and a cacophonic game of cadavre exquis, Shubigi Rao: Exquisite Corpse invites the entanglement of old and new voices as audiences engage in the exhibition's premise of intertextuality, spectrality, hidden layers, and remainders.
Curated by: Luca Lum, Raksha Mahtani and Chua Ying Qing.

Pictureshow seeks to spotlight the act of looking as the primal means of perception and knowledge acquisition. Assembling works and materials which have since grown distant from the stability of the canvas, the painting, and the two-dimensional that the word picture is so comfortably associated with, this exhibition asks: How has the relationship between artistic expression and the pictorial mode evolved over time? By unhinging the habitual mode of seeing a picture with works and materials that generate their own definitions about representation, Pictureshow contemplates the image as mediator in the relationship between artistic production and consumption. The exhibition features the works and materials of Chun Kaifeng, Kim Lim, Matthew Ngui and Song-Ming Ang.
Curated by: Selene Yap, Cheng Jia Yun, Euginia Tan and Wong Yeang Cherng.


Photos | Exhibition Opening

Photos | Gallery Impressions

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

10 Questions with | Euginia Tan

1. Tell us about yourself in a sentence.
I volunteer as tribute.

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
I've volunteered.... as tribute.

3. What has been your ________ moment of Curating Lab so far?

funniest moment is taking screenshots of all our group's discussions.
without them knowing.
they know now.

4. What is it like being a poet in a curating programme?

fleeting curating haiku;
mastering facebook -
indomitable hell

Yes I'm one syllable too long.

5. Tell us about your work with Latent Spaces.

I just joined Latent Spaces not long ago really. And I don't know much about my bosses... they slip me my assignments in abandoned briefcases by dark stairwells, in code, and I have three days to decipher them or they send me a random torn page from my first book, day by day.....

Just kidding. I'm working with them for their Art Stage project.

6. What should I look out for at the collaboration with Art Stage?
Latent Spaces is doing a collaborative piece in an attempt to capture conditions of art production, 60 local artists have contributed to a collective piece of work titled Economy. Each invited artist has created one fridge magnet which will be strategically arranged in a grid on a single metallic panel. All artists’ contributions will be sold as a complete set of one edition at the art fair. Our Curating Lab participants Melvin and Bernice have contributed their works to this. Also our mentor Heman Chong but he’s already too famous so don’t put a link on his name.

Latent Spaces will also be selling Potong ice cream at Art Stage 2015, which has been an ongoing business venture they initiated at Haw Par Villa to help fund the daily operations of their gallery. The project, going by the tongue in cheek moniker Potong Ice Cream $2 has commissioned artist Ang Song Ming to create a catchy jingle for the booth in its spirit of effervescence.

7. What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
Junoesq is a new literary journal set up by Singaporean poet Grace Chia Krakovic, for female writers. I read at their launch in SWF. Here’s a link to my work:
From the same gods that willed the births of Ulysses, The Waste Land, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, please allow my third book to happen.

8. Favourite book.
The Outsiders by S.E Hinton.

*MEANINGFUL BACKSTORY SPOILER ALERT* I first picked this book up when I was nine, and I always assumed Hinton was male. Later on in another of her books, Some of Tim's Stories, I read an interview in which they referred to her as Susie. And I realized Susie was S.E Hinton herself. Here's an excerpt of the interview:

Q: Your given name is Susan Eloise. How did you become S.E.?
A: My publishers asked me if they could just use my initials because of the subject matter. They thought if reviewers picked up The Outsiders and saw that a girl had written it, they would read it with bias. The initials sounded great to me. I liked having a public name and a private name. At first, the reviewers would mention that a young man had written the book, but after a while I wasn't a secret. I was on television; I was on radio.

I'm not sure if this was the rationale behind J.K. Rowling's initials as well, but I like to think that it is. From a very young age finding out about this bias made me very aware about looking at work objectively, and this also heavily impacted me producing work as a female writer. People often neglect the fact that emotions are general consensus, applicable to anyone, they are not gender based. But we continue to be victims/bullies to a flawed imbalance that society has set. As a poet this gives me great room to build on that.

9. Favourite artwork.
Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937. Oil on canvas.

10. Favourite local art space.
Latent Spaces..... thanks for the raise, Kaifeng and Kaiqun.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

10 Questions with | Kenneth Loe

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
Either I'm poetically pregnant or my alliteration's asunder.

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
I have to thank my dear friend Joleen without whom my adventure through this fantastic terra incognita would not have happened nor been possible.

3. What has been your curate’s egg moment of Curating Lab so far?
The early conceptions (pun intended) of our final project.

4. Tell us about your work with the Centre of Contemporary Art, Singapore.
I’m working on the post-exhibition catalogue for Theatrical Fields as an editorial assistant. The discursive breadth covered by the exhibition, film screenings, symposia, artist talks and roundtable discussions in Umea and Singapore is quite extensive, both within and beyond the scope of theatricality - and I assist with the accumulation, selection and editing of the material.

5. What should I know about Theatrical Fields?
That “theatricality”, while necessarily summoning associations with the oft-cited “theatrical” as derogative, can be situated and understood outside of the context of theatre and the well-made play. My reaction, albeit a little knee-jerk, when I first visited the exhibition was shock - at the absence of recognisable drama, of the “Days of Our Lives” daytime soap opera register y’know?

It was initially tenuous for me - the links between contemporary art and theatre that the project seemingly tried to draw, the notion of live bodies vs mediatized bodies still very much a contested area in performance studies and performativity, how different the strategies employed by visual art and theatre practitioners both in the past and with the advent of digital technologies are, the often separate lineages and reference points of both fields, etc. Having spent much more time with the works, I would say Theatrical Fields delves productively beyond this dichotomy by alluding to the staged realities of everyday life through its own constructed-ness of the phantasmagorical.

6. Has your understanding of curating changed since being part of Curating Lab?
Most definitely! A heightened sense of awareness for one.
7. What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
We’re in the midst of preparing for the next exhibition Moving Light, Roving Sight at Ikkan Art Gallery where I work at full-time. It opens on 22nd Jan next year and is the biggest and most challenging one that I’ve been involved in to date. I’d like to imagine 2015 would be slower for me with lots of time in between projects to read.

8. Favourite poem

The End Is Near The Beginning
Yes you have said enough for the time being
There will be plenty of lace later on
Plenty of electric wool
And you will forget the eglantine
Growing around the edge of the green lake
And if you forget the colour of my hands
You will remember the wheels of the chair
In which the wax figure resembling you sat

Several men are standing on the pier
Unloading the sea
The device on the trolly says MOTHER’S MEAT
Which means Until the end.

David Gascoyne

9. Favourite artwork.

10. Favourite local art space.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

10 Questions with | Selene Yap

1. Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
I’m Selene, a Sociology graduate who finds interest in issues regarding art and its publics. More recently, I’ve been kept intrigued by discussions revolving around ‘participatory art’, spectatorship, and museums as hotbeds of engagement-centric crowdsourced/outsourced curated experiences.
Photo credit: Bernice Ong

2. How did you end up in Curating Lab?
I saw Curating Lab as a test bed for me to experiment with and progressively develop my initial interest (or naivety) in curating. The opportunity also came at a time when I was seriously considering my career path and the possibility of entering grad school.
That said, the “How” part of it was with much encouragement and pep talk from friends. I must’ve read through the application process a million times before deciding to spend a day off at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) “critique[ing] the shit out of” some works and submitting it as part of my application


3. What has been the most challenging moment of Curating Lab so far?
Every moment spent at Hanis Café at NLB. From agonizing over exhibition proposals/essays with team NAC (Euginia, YC, Jia and myself) to keeping up during the brilliant reading sessions facilitated by our mentor, Mustafa, it seems as if the place has become a metaphor for all the ‘curatorial combustions’ we’ve experienced in Curating Lab.  

Adventures ahoy with team NAC
Photo credit (left): Hanis Café and Bakery Singapore
4. What do you do at the National Library Board?
I’m one in a team of ‘Cultural Concierges’ – the designation for my role in NLB (not too far away from being a cultural bell-boy, really). We plan for arts and culture programmes and public arts education, which include exhibitions and community engagement outreach in Public Libraries.

5. Has Curating Lab changed how you approach your work?
I used to look at things in a firmly logistical and practical manner of how the art work can suit the exhibition spaces that we have, but in recent times, I have become more curious about the process and the poetics leading up to creation.

6. What kind of programmes should we look out for at the library?
Depending on one’s area of interest; I would say look out for design-related programmes in Library@Orchard and programmes with a focus on literary arts at Central Public Library. 

7. What are you up to at present? / What’s next for you?
I’m currently working with NAC and curator, Joanna Lee in presenting the Ho Chee Lick: Homage to the Faithful exhibition in our Public Libraries as part of Art Week 2015. Next on my to-do list: I would really like to start seriously looking through open calls and residencies for emerging curators just to see what the requirements for these projects are; how to write a letter of intent, craft a proposal etc. To finally have the guts to apply for something!

8. Favourite book.
The book that I’m halfway through now - A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. It’s such a great book that I feel like I’m compromising its elegance by reading the e-version out of my crappy LED-backlit iPhone.

9. Favourite artwork(s).
I thoroughly enjoyed WE THINK ALONE by Miranda July and Chen Sai Hua Kuan’s Space Drawing 5.
Photo credit: Randian Online
10. Favourite local art space.
No favourite local art space at the moment. Having said that, I’d like to think that a good art space is one that matches the quirks of the exhibition it houses!