Naeem at APB Foundation Signature Art Prize’14

The Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Finalists Exhibition, featuring artworks short-listed for the region’s premier juried contemporary art award, has opened to the public on 14 November 2014. Organised by the Singapore Art Museum with the support of presenting sponsor APB Foundation, the Signature Art Prize is a hallmark of distinction awarded to artworks from the region that represent a significant development in Asia Pacific’s contemporary art landscape in recent years.

Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh) 5Spanning various genres, the Finalists Exhibition is presenting 15 works produced in 13 countries which include the work of Naeem Mohaimen from Bangladesh. Other territories from which the art work has been selected are India, Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The exhibition allows visitors a chance to access and appreciate works that have emerged from diverse cultures and traditions across the Asia Pacific region, including South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.

On top of vying for a $60,000 Grand Prize and two $15,000 Jurors’ Choice Awards, each of the 15 artworks are also in the running for a People’s Choice Award worth $10,000. Awarded to the artwork that garners the most public votes, the People’s Choice Award invites the public to engage with the prize and aims to stimulate lively public discussion and critical discourse. Following a viewing of the works at the Finalists Exhibition or virtually via a dedicated micro-site, the public can cast their votes for their favorite finalist at the Museum or via www.singaporeartmuseum.sg/signatureartprize from 14 November 2014 to 21January 2015. People from all over the world can vote and stand to win prizes. Exclusive SAM merchandise will be given to three winners every week until voting ends. One lucky voter will also receive an Apple 16 GB Wifi iPad Air 2 with ‘Pencil’ by Fifty-three and their award-winning application, ‘Paper’ for aspiring artists on the move.

Presented across two floors in SAM’s main building, the Finalists Exhibition allows the public to view the works in-situ. The works are installed across 12 galleries and in unique site-specific spaces in the museum. Liu Jianhua’s Trace, based on principles of Chinese calligraphy, transforms the grand central staircase and second floor landing, and was specially reconfigured for SAM’s space. Arin Rungjang’s monumental Golden Teardrop brings heavy, ancient beams from an old Ayutthaya house and iron trusses from a post-war factory into the museum gallery. Together, these structures frame a delicate sculptural object made up of almost 6,000 drops referred to in the work’s title. Meanwhile, Choe U-Ram’s fantastical metallic creature – at once robotic and chimerical–Custos Cavum (Guardian of the hole), which seems to move and breathe, lies at the heart of the museum. Elsewhere, artists use unusual materials. For instance, Robert Zhao Renhui evokes a peculiar parable withEskimo Wolf Trap often quoted in Sermons and recreates a snowy landscape with almost 400 kilogrammes of bicarbonate of soda. Melati Suryodarmo’s performance site of her durational work I’m a Ghost in My Own House is recreated with more than 150 kg of charcoal and is situated at the central glass porch on the second floor, overlooking the front of the museum.

Dr. Susie Lingham, Director, Singapore Art Museum comments, “We’re delighted to be presenting the 15 Finalists of the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014. The shortlisted works truly demonstrate creative exploration of art form and medium, and are conceptually well-wrought at the same time. Diversesocial, cultural and political issues are engagingly and accessibly expressed in these extraordinary artworks, where each embody the transformative quality of art. Many of the works open up to great depths – both visually and metaphorically –at the moment of encounter. They each, in their unique way, reveal the power of contemporary art as a meaningful experience. Both culturally and aesthetically, we witness the rich diversity and imagination ofthe Asia Pacific region. I look forward to invitingthe public to visit, engage with the artworks and vote for their favourite works to win the People’s Choice Award.”

Mr. Roland Pirmez, Chairman of the APB Foundation Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees adds, “This year marks the 20th anniversary of the APB Foundation which has always been about bringing people together, inspiring change and making a difference in people’s lives. Over the last two decades, the arts has become a key pillar of focus and we have made a firm commitment to nurturing the development of a vibrant arts scene in the region. As we celebrate this milestone occasion, we’re thrilled to be welcoming the third edition of the Signature Art Prize, which has seen tremendous growth since its inauguration in 2008. We look forward to working with SAM to develop the prize further and continually raise the profile of the prize and celebrate the works of our regions’ great artists.”

The Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize Exhibition has started from 14 November 2014 to 15 March 2015 at Singapore Art Museum, with the Prize winners due to be announced at an Awards Ceremony on 22 January 2015. A series of parallel programmes including curatorial tours, educators’ talks and sensory workshops have also been organised. For instance, the APBFoundation Signature Art Prize Judges’ Panel will help the public gain insight into the Prize’s selection process whilethe Artist Gallery Tours will see the artists themselves guide special tours where they will share more about their works and practices.

APB Foundation

Instituted in June 1994, the APB Foundation seeks to ignite compassion and inspire through our philanthropic efforts. We set resources in motion to help people and organisations improve talents, enhanced educational and research endeavours as well as better living conditions. In turn, we fuel society and enable the communities, where we live and work, to flourish.

Committed to supporting Human Excellence, Creativity Development and Humanitarian Causes, the APB Foundation is involved in a variety of initiatives that range from arts funding and backing talent-building projects for human capital development, to engaging in meaningful partnerships with organisations or individuals who share our common goal to serve the society.

The APB Foundation is a registered Charity with Institution of Public Character (IPC) status in Singapore. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the HEINEKEN Company in Singapore. HEINEKEN Company has three entities in Singapore: HEINEKEN Asia Pacific, HEINEKEN Asia Pacific Exports and Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore.

About the Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) focuses on contemporary art practice in Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia within the global context. It advocates and makes accessible interdisciplinary contemporary art through research-led and evolving curatorial practice. Opened in January 1996, SAM has built up one of the most important collections of contemporary art from the region. It seeks to seed and nourish a stimulating and creative space in Singapore through exhibitions and public programmes. These encompass cross-disciplinary residencies and exchanges, research and publications, as well as outreach and education. SAM was the organiser of the Singapore Biennale in 2011 and 2013.

SAM was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee on 13 November 2013 and has moved from the National Heritage Board to the Visual Arts Cluster (VAC) under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). The other institutions under the VAC are the National Art Gallery, Singapore (NAGS), and the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI).

Owen Leong (Australia)

Infinite Love

2011

HD video

Duration 6:18 mins

Edition AP

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Dr Michelle Antoinette

The performance video Infinite Love opens with a striking headshot of the artist Owen Leong with his eyes closed, choked to the chin in a black garment, and wearing a harshlooking dental retractor that keeps his mouth forcibly open. The video then cuts back and forth between this self-portrait and a beautiful, anatomically-correct sculpture of a heart made of frozen milk, which is gradually melting. We soon realise that we are looking down upon the supine artist, whose gaping mouth is positioned beneath this dripping heart. As the artist’s performing body is compelled to slowly ingest the white liquid, which spatters into and around his mouth and face, we become increasingly aware of the discomfort of being an inadvertent witness, as we watch and hear a human being in distress due to physical coercion.

Leong is known for his film, photographic and sculptural work that utilises concepts of abjection and corporeality to explore the tenuous complexities of constructed and contested identities. As an Asian-Australian, he questions assumptions about race, ethnicity and gender and the various ways that these socially-defined notions affect claims to cultural belonging and national identities. The visceral qualities of this work, and its ability to elicit a simultaneous sense of distancing horror and self-aware empathy, become an object lesson in the breaking down of dichotomies of self and other.

Owen Leong (b. 1979, Sydney, Australia) is a contemporary artist whose artistic practice spans photography, sculpture and installation. Currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales after receiving the Australian Postgraduate Award. Leong’s works have been exhibited at ‘Fables of Change’ (2014) at the ROSIZO State Museum and Exhibition Center, Moscow; ‘Tidal Skin’ (2012) at the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo; and ‘Magic Spaces’ (2011) at the Today Art Museum, Beijing. He was awarded the Bowness Photography Prize People’s Choice Award (2009).

Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh)

Rankin Street, 1953

2013

Mixed media installation with video, blueprint drawings, vintage photographs, and matching sandstone moulds

Dimensions variable, video duration 8:00 mins

Edition 2 of 3 (Video and blueprint drawings)

Edition 3 of 3 (Vintage photographs and matching

sandstone moulds)

Collection of Experimenter Gallery and Samdani Art Foundation

Nominated by Nadia Samdani

While clearing out his soon-to-be-demolished family home in old Dhaka, Naeem Mohaiemen came across a box of old negatives of photographs taken by his father using the first camera he purchased in 1953. Other than this box, the family has fund no other negatives or images that were made using this camera. Only six years before in 1947, the states of India and Pakistan were created, laying the way for the independence movement that would establish Bangladesh in 1971. Those interim years were times of great change and even rupture for many families, and the city itself underwent incredible transformation. The several hundred images that Mohaiemen found however, contained avowedly domestic subjects and scenes, including cats, family members, consumer objects, and weekend outings. At the same time, they are archival testimonies to all that has been lost through Dhaka’s urban development.

Mohaiemen first selected and reprinted 12 of these negatives, then visualised and rendered them in the form of sandstone moulds, which further abstracted them from their indexical status as photographs. He chose eight more images for their depictions of the borders between the domestic and the exterior world (such as balconies and windowsills), and overlaid them with blueprints of the Rankin Street residence, thus forming a ghostly map of the perimeters of their home. A short and mediative essay film about the story of these images and the relationship the artist has with his father and with time suggests the irretrievablilty of the past, and the roles that personal histories play in the construction of official narratives of modernity and nationalism.

Naeem Mohaiemen (b. 1969, London, England) is an artist and writer who currently works in New York and Dhaka. He graduated from Oberlin College, Ohio with a Bachelors in Economics and Concentration in History and is currently pursuing postgraduate studies in Anthropology and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, New York. Mohaiemen’s works span photography, film, mixed media and critical writing, and have been shown at the Edinburgh Art Festival (2014); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2014); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); Kirin Nadar Museum, Delhi (2013); Dhaka Art Summit (2012); SharjahBiennial, United Arab Emirates (2011); and the Frieze Art Fair, London (2010).

Liu Jianhua (China)

Trace

2011

Porcelain

Dimensions variable

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Zhu Qiang

Liu Jianhua’s site-specific sculptural installation Trace makes reference to an aesthetic standard in Chinese calligraphic practice known as wu lou hen (literally translated as “water stains on the wall”). It alludes to seemingly ordinary, naturally-occurring phenomena that inspire a skilled and subtle artist to create work that relies on, yet transcends this stimulus. Made of porcelain, and approximating inky calligraphic marks on a swathe of rice paper, the elements of Trace use and evoke some of the most historically important Chinese inventions which have been developed and refined over centuries into full-fledged art forms such as ceramics and ink painting.

Black is a significant colour in ink brush painting and calligraphy, two of the most elevated forms of Chinese art practiced by the literati. In the colour spectrum, it is conventionally seen as light-absorbing, indicating the absence of colour. However, in the hands of a master with supreme control over the movement of the brush and flow of ink, black can take on remarkable nuances of tonality, shade, texture and depth. By turning inkflow into sculpture, Liu throws attention on the way the medium itself inhabits and changes the space it is positioned in. Installed in the curling white spine of the museum’s central stairwell, the monumental black drips and marks appear to scale the two-storey walls and flow onto the landing, forming a distinctive contrast with the features of the colonial building. Harmoniously bridging three different zones, the work allows viewers to be immersed in the experience it creates, while meditatively altering their perspective as they move through the transformed space.

Based in Shanghai, Liu Jianhua (b. 1962, Ji’an, China) studied Fine Art of Sculpture at the Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute and teaches Fine Art of Sculpture at the Shanghai University. He spent 14 years learning ceramic and porcelain craft at a factory in Jingdezhen, a city known for its thriving porcelain industry. Liu’s works have been exhibited at the 14th International Sculpture Biennale of Carrara, Italy (2010); 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2010); and the Singapore Biennale (2006). He also represented China at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and received the 71st Award of Art China’s Artist of the Year for Sculptural Art.

Peng Wei (China)

Letters From A Distance

2012–2014

Mixed media and painting installation with handmade

linen paper, rice paper, wooden box, silk ribbon, jade pins,

and oxbone scrollbars

Dimensions variable

Collection of the Artist and private collection

Letters From A Distance is a painting installation that presents objects and texts associated with traditional Chinese shanshui landscape painting in unexpected ways.

Album leaves, hanging scrolls and hand scrolls are displayed like sculptural objects on a museum plinth, and partially or fully unfurled in their accordion, vertical or horizontal forms. This highlights the totality of calligraphic painting’s material aesthetics, such as silk ties, bone pins, mounting brocades and storage boxes. It also draws attention to the way hanging scroll works were traditionally viewed: not as paintings displayed permanently on the wall, but temporarily taken out to be enjoyed depending on the season or occasion, and otherwise rolled and stored away. Likewise, small-scale album leaves or hand scrolls, with their concise composition of scenes and subjects, were often meant for personal appreciation. Artists using these formats were thus able to play with scale and function to create work for specific circumstances, small audiences, or to use for private terms of address.

Responding to these unique qualities, Peng Wei translated her favourite letters, essays and poems by artists and writers from Europe into Chinese and inserted them into her landscape paintings, placing them where conventional inscriptions and titles would have been, or comments by later viewers or collectors would have been written. These idiosyncratic juxtapositions take the role of colophons in Chinese painting a step further: they are Peng’s way of ‘writing back’ to Western and East Asian artists of the past by allowing them to intimately address each other in the same picture plane through their own words and images respectively. By subverting these classical Chinese forms in measured and subtle ways, Peng also celebrates their abiding qualities.

Peng Wei (b. 1974, Chengdu, China) holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Philosophy and Oriental Art from Nankai University, Tianjin. Currently based in Beijing, she was editor of ART Magazine from 2000 to 2006. Peng’s works have been shown in solo exhibitions in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei and Shenzhen, and she has also participated in various international exhibitions such as ‘Real Life Stories – Chinese Contemporary Art’ at the Bergen Art Museum, Norway (2013) and the 8th Shenzhen International Ink PaintingBiennale (2013). Peng is also currently a professional artist affiliated with the Beijing FineArt Academy.

Ranbir Kaleka (India)

House of Opaque Water

2012

HD video installation

222 × 1097 cm, duration 10:33 mins

Collection of the Artist and Volte Gallery

Painter and video artist Ranbir Kaleka’s immersive three-screen video installation, The House of Opaque Water was inspired by environmentalist Pradip Saha’s documentary about the islands of the Sundarbans Delta in the south of the Great Plains, which have been subject to accelerating and massive erosion over the years, dispacing thousands of inhabitants. The story of Sheikh Lal Mohan, a humble man whose home and entire island were entirely lost to the waters serves as a narrative thread through the haunting, at times turbulent stream of images that reflect the inner lives of the villagers whose way of life has been destroyed by the very rivers they depend on for daily subsistence.

While based on documented facts, Kaleka’s exploration of ecological challenges in the face of economic and sociopolitical instability uses the visual language of the symbolic and visionary. The threatened landscape is indicated by a variety of forms, ranging from the primitive, powerful lines of mud drawings, to the computer-generated imagery of Google Maps. We are reminded how time and space are out of joint by the sight of fish stranded on grassland, or ordinary objects unmoored from their domestic setting floating underwater, or the vision of a flaming effigy on a boat in water. Yet at the same time, we see how villagers try to maintain elements of their daily life in the context of great disaster.

The atmospheric soundtrack, which layers voices, sputtering motors, dirge-like bells and solemn foghorns, unifies the mundane and the mythic, lending an urgent gravitas to these stories of loss and change.

Ranbir Kaleka (b. 1953, Patiala, India) lives and works in New Delhi, India. He graduated with a Diploma in Painting from Panjab University, Chandigarh (1975) and a Master in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London (1987). Kaleka taught fine art at the Punjabi University, Patiala and the Delhi College of Art, New Delhi. His work has been shown at the 4th International Contemporary Art Gwangju Vision Exhibition (2014), Gwangju, South Korea; The Peabody Essex Museum, ‘Midnight to the Boom’ (2013), from the Museum’s Herwitz Collection, Salem, Massachusetts; Project 35 (2013), Independent Curators International (ICI), North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, USA.

Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia)

I’m a Ghost in My Own House

2012

Performance, video performance,

charcoal, and stone grinding table

Dimensions variable

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Rifky Effendy

Charcoal is an essential material to the performance and installation I’m a Ghost in My Own House. Prevalent as a source of fuel in Southeast Asian countries, it is made by cooking wood in a low-oxygen environment to evaporate off all water and harden it. As a material, charcoal is life-sustaining because it provides heat and fire; yet it also has the capacity to burn and destroy. For 12 hours, Melati Suryodarmo crushed hundreds of charcoal briquettes on a grinding table. This stupendous durational performance saw her putting all her energy into turning the material to dust, yet these are also actions that strip charcoal of its potential energy, causing it to lose its efficacy and function.

For Melati, the process of creating charcoal from wood harvested from trees, and then rendering this to dust, can be paralleled to a person undergoing a psychological metamorphosis in which thoughts and excesses are purged, pulverised and incinerated, to the extent that their appearance and very structure are transformed from what they were before. The mind and body must undergo this process, even if the result is uncertain or leads to total loss. The duration of 12 hours is significant as a way for how humans understand the period of one day. There are for instance, 12 hours each of day and night, and 12 hours respectively called ante meridiem and post meridiem. Within one of these periods, the body rests, while the other is spent in the rhythms and rituals of daily life that include eating, moving and working. The full cycle of Melati’s 12-hour action thus becomes a totalising but measured way to engage in this poetic, performative task of transformation.

Melati Suryodarmo (b. 1969, Surakata, Indonesia) holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations Studies from Universitas Padjadjaran Bandung, Indonesia. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Postgraduate Program (Meisterschule) in Performance Art at the Hochschule fuer Bildende Kuenste, Braunschweig, Germany. Suryodarmo also studied under renowned Butoh dancer, Anzu Furukawa and acclaimed performance artist, Marina Abramovic. She participated in the Venice Biennale Dance Festival (2007), eBent 07 festival in Barcelona (2007), Accione 06 in Madrid (2006), and the 15th International Electronic Art Festival – Video Brasil, Sao Paolo, Brasil (2005), and has been the organiser of the annual Performance Art Laboratory Project for the PadepokanLemah Putih in Solo since 2007.

Go Watanabe (Japan)

one places / on “the room”

2013

Full HD 3D CG video installation

Duration 28:06 mins

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Taro Amano

Go Watanabe uses digital media techniques in his work to represent and challenge the boundaries between real and simulated worlds. His scenes and subjects – often still lifes, mundane interiors or cityscapes – are created entirely by 3D CGI graphics, and are hence not indexical like photographs, or iconic in the sense of painting conventions. His works appear at first glance to be photographic, but frequently reveal themselves to be videos of images that move at a tantalisingly infinitesimal pace, eventually achieving crescendos of spatial implosion that cyclically resolve.

one places / on “the room” consists of two different CGI animations of a seemingly normal bedroom, called <side A> and <side B>. The first is a view toward the window while the second shows the back of the room. The two views are projected on different sides of a single screen such that only one perspective can be seen at any point of time, prompting viewers to circle around in order to understand the entire work. The sophistication of the graphics lends this scene an air of uncanny hyperreality, which is heightened when the everyday objects and furniture in the room start to come apart, and assume increasingly abstract and autonomous forms that move according to the logic of their own protracted time. By evoking and subverting our expectations about perception, Watanabe proposes alternative visual possibilities that are apt for our contemporary existence, which is marked by plurality and the virtual.

Go Watanabe (b. 1975, Hyogo, Japan) holds a Bachelor of Fine Art and Master of Fine Art from the Aichi University of the Arts. A leading Japanese digital media artist, Watanabe received the 24th Gotoh Memorial Culture Award (Most Promising Talent Award) and has held solo exhibitions at Arataniurano (2012) and 1223 Gendaikaiga – Contemporary Art Collection (2012). Watanabe’s works have also been shown at the Aichi Triennale (2013); Seoul Olympic Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea (2013); A4 Contemporary Arts Centre in Chengdu, China (2012); Kuandu Biennale (2012); and the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Aichi, Japan (2012).

Lisa Reihana (New Zealand)

in Pursuit of Venus

2012

2-channel HD video with stereo sound on continuous loop

Duration 8:00 mins

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Giles Peterson

Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique is a 20-panel panoramic wallpaper created in 1804 that depicted fantastical visions of the people and places encountered during the colonial voyages of Captain Cook in the Pacific Islands. The largest of its time, the wallpaper was shown at the Paris Exposition for French Manufacturing in 1806, and intended for wealthy households who wanted the exotic flavour of the New World in their domestic parlours.

Techniques used to create the wallpaper were drawn from both the major art of painting and the decorative practices of tapestry.

With the two-channel moving image work in Pursuit of Venus, Lisa Reihana reimagines these legacies of European colonial representation with depictions of adorned and costumed living actors against a verdant painted backdrop, engaging in rituals, ceremonies, dances and daily activities true to Maori and Pacific life in the 1800s. In contrast to the progressivist Enlightenment ideals represented by the 1804 wallpaper, the continuous, panning movement of Reihana’s looped video offers a new teleological approach: a multi-sensory, contemporary rendering of time in place that highlights the authority, dignity, physicality and humour of the people. The characters and places depicted are no longer exotic curiosities on display and subject to the colonial gaze.

Instead, the work allows viewers to engage with the subjects’ demonstrated sense of self and proposes a model of cultural knowledge based on thoughtful exchange and appreciation rather than unilateral transmission.

Lisa Reihana (b. 1964, Henderson, New Zealand) is a multimedia artist of Maori, English and Welsh descent. Based in Auckland, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Auckland University and a Master of Design from the Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland. Reihana’s film and multimedia works revolve around her indigenous roots,addressing issues related to Maori culture, history and philosophy. She has participatedin exhibitions such as ‘Suspended Histories’ at Museum van Loon Amsterdam, the

Netherlands (2013); ‘in Pursuit of Venus’ at A-Space Gallery, Toronto (2013; ‘Home on Native Land’ at TIFF Lightbox, Toronto (2012) and ‘Close Encounters at Plug In’, Canada (2011).

Farida Batool (Pakistan)

Kahani Eik Shehr Ki (Story of a City)

2012

Lenticular print

20.3 × 2144 cm

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Ambereen Karamat

A lenticular print is a 70-year old technology in which multiple images are interlaced and combined with a lens so as to give the final image an illusion of depth and a quality of movement depending on the angle it is viewed at. In Story of a City, Farida Batool utilises this deceptively simple technique on an ambitious scale, creating a 21-metre work that takes the viewer on a walk through the busy urban environment of Lahore, Pakistan.

Photographing stretches of the city street, she captures daily situations ranging from the sublime to the mundane, including parked cars, precariously occupied rickshaws, a huge variety of street vendors, tattered advertisements and political posters, and graffiti left over from religious rallies. The rich history of Pakistan – regional capital of various empires since the 11th century, the heart of the British Raj, and presently one of the most densely populated cities in the world – can be discerned through the variety of architectural styles visible on this walk.

Batool herself appears in a number of the frames, mirroring the viewer whose movements are what activate the three-dimensional, animated effect of the stroll. Story of a City allows the viewer to approximate the behaviour of the flâneur, who is part of urban life yet always detached from or outside of it. Drifting through the modern city, he or she partakes freely of its horrors and pleasures, becoming a casual witness to life passing before one’s eyes.

Visual artist and art historian Farida Batool (b. 1970, Lahore, Pakistan) graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and holds a Master in Art History and Theory (Research) from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Batool heads the Department of Communication and Cultural Studies at the National College of Arts, Lahore, where she also teaches art history. She has organised several community art projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Her recent exhibitions include ‘Kahani Eik Shehr Ki’ at Rohtas 2, Lahore (2012) and ‘Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography’ at Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010).

Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore)

Pythagoras

2013

Installation with 4-channel HD video, 8-channel sound,

automated curtain track, fans, lights, and show control

mechanism

Dimensions variable

Singapore Art Museum collection

Ho Tzu Nyen’s PYTHAGORAS centres around the notion of the voice as a force that cannot be escaped, but has the power to seduce, animate or compel. The work is titled for the philosopher and mathematician who spoke to his acolytes from behind a curtain so that they could better concentrate on his teachings, a practice said to the first recorded use of acousmatic sound, or sounds for which one is not able to detect an originating source.The four-channel video installation draws upon elements of theatre and film, such as automated curtain tracks, elaborate stage lighting systems, and 360-degree audio effects, which all combine to immerse viewers in a thunderous symphony of sound and image.

The videos feature personages from film and literary history, such as the Wizard of Oz, Fritz Lang’s Doctor Mabuse, Stanley Kubrick’s Hal 9000 and Jean-Luc Godard’s Alpha 60. Intercut with these are historical figures portrayed or evoked in Ho’s earlier works, including blind poet John Milton, physicist Isaac Newton and pianist Glenn Gould. All these individuals have a fraught relationship with voice: the Wizard and Mabuse conceal their visages like Pythagoras to give their words more authority, while the artificial intelligence systems of Kubrick’s and Godard’s sentient machines allow them to speak outside of mind as humans understand it. Meanwhile, the artists, writers and scientists each struggle in their own way with what it means to be able to perceive and be touched by the quiet, elusive sound of genius. Throughout the multi-layered work that is PYTHAGORAS, the voice emerges as a sustained conceit about the necessity (or folly) of discerning darkly through a veil, what may never be known face-to-face.

Ho Tzu Nyen (b. 1976, Singapore) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Arts from the University of Melbourne (2001) and a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore (2007). He represented Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011) and has held solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide (2007, 2010) and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012). Ho’s works have been shown at the 6th Asia Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia (2009); ‘No Soul for Sale’ at London’s Tate Modern (2010), and ‘No Country: ContemporaryArt for South and Southeast Asia’ at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013).

Robert Zhao Renhui (Singapore)

Eskimo Wolf Trap often quoted in Sermons

2013

Mixed media installation with knife, bicarbonate soda, and diasec

Dimensions variable

Edition 2 of 3

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Alan Oei

Robert Zhao Renhui’s work consists of elaborate fictional scenarios that arise from the study and documentation of natural history. Working primarily with photographic techniques, he evokes structures of research methodologies and museological displays to invent images and narratives that straddle science and sleight of hand trickery. Zhao’s enduring interest has been the relationship between human and animals, for which the animal trap is an ideal metaphor, as a person who intends to trap an animal must first get inside its mind to understand how it thinks, moves and reacts.

Eskimo Wolf Trap often quoted in Sermons is based on a parable about how a snow wolf can be trapped by its inherent qualities of bloodlust. Lured by a blood-stained knife, it cuts its tongue open as it licks the blade, drinking itself to death on its own blood. The work presents a reddened knife in what appears to be a field of snow, a pure and minimal display that belies the grisly origins of the tale. A text alluding to the parable, framed and mounted as if it were a photograph, serves as caption to this enigmatic display. As an installation, it captures a moment of anticipation with undertones of violence, invoking questions about veracity in representation, and broader metaphysical debates about universal truths.

Robert Zhao Renhui (b. 1983, Singapore) holds a Bachelor of Arts in Photography from the University of the Arts London and a Master of Arts in Photography from the London College of Communication. He was awarded the United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Award, Singapore (2009); the National Arts Council Singapore Young Artist Award (2010); and the Deutsche Bank Award in Photography (2011), and was selected to participate in the 2013 President’s Young Talents exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum. His works have been shown at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; the Photo-Levallois Festival, Paris; the GoEun Museum of Photography, Korea; and at the Singapore Biennale (2013).

Choe U-Ram (South Korea)

Custos Cavum (Guardian of the hole)

2011

Metallic material, resin, motor, gear,

custom CPU board, and LED

220 × 360 × 260 cm

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Kim Sun-hee

Choe U-Ram creates intricate kinetic biomorphic sculptures out of metal, motors and machinery, giving them Latin titles almost as if they were new species. Originating from a creation myth written by the artist, Custos Cavum is one such chimerical creature that bridges the multiple worlds behind the veil of known reality. A prone form with skeletonlike metal ribs lies in a foetal position on a bed of sand, suggesting that it has washed up on a forgotten shore. Upon closer inspection, delicate gold leaves appear to be growing out of the metallic tendrils that emerge from its ribs. Their gentle movement, accompanied by quietly whirring gears prompts the realisation that the body of the creature is also rising and falling, almost as if it is breathing.

This simultaneous embodiment of death and life, growth and decay, and the artificial and the natural is characteristic of Choe’s work, which explores evolutionary morphology through the aesthetics of motors and machines. On one hand, his delicate, fantastical creatures evoke wonderment at the miracle of creation out of inanimate material, and play on the very human desire to anthropomorphise the objects of our mechanical civilisation.

Yet, they also suggest the ghost in the machine, or the idea that the human mind has developed at the expense of more primitive brain structures, which might at any time rise up and overwhelm our higher functions.

Choe U-Ram (b. 1970, Seoul, South Korea) holds a Bachelor of Fine Art and Master of Fine Art from the Chung-Ang University Department of Sculpture, Seoul. Born to parents who were art majors, he loved machinery as a child and worked at a robotics company before college. Choe has held solo exhibitions at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2012) and the Asia Society Museum in New York (2011) and has exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale (2006) and the Liverpool Biennale (2008). He is also the recipient of the Kim Se Choong Sculpture Award, Young Artist Today Award and POSCO Steel Art Award.

Yao Jui-Chung + Lost Society Document (LSD) (Taiwan)

Mirage – Disused Public Property in Taiwan

2010–2014

Video and 124 photographs

Photographs: 70 × 70 cm (each), video duration 25:00 mins

Collection of the Artist

Nominated by Dr Manray Hsu

Artist, curator and educator Yao Jui-Chung represents transformations in Taiwan’s architecture and landscape under the auspices of modernisation. In 2010, he discovered a large number of obsolete buildings across Taiwan. These included recreational centres, office buildings, markets, transport hubs and other structures which were part of construction investments awarded to business groups by municipal or rural political parties in exchange for their support during elections. However, after these building projects were completed, they were never put to use or maintained, leading to them being nicknamed ‘mosquito halls’, as they were only occupied by pests and insects.

Yao and a group of students who called themselves ‘Lost Society Document’ searched out and documented a few hundred of these structures across the country. Their work raised questions about the validity of acts undertaken in the name of economic progress, and the myriad political forces that are hidden within democratic processes. The team identified and compiled the results of their four-year research in a photographic installation with videos and publications. The work drew the interest of the local media, which led to the premier of the executive branch of the ROC calling for government departments to inspect such facilities and put them to good use or consider demolishing them. The awareness raised and impact that this project had throughout its development is an unusual example of research and activism through the discipline of art that resulted in positive change.

Yao Jui-Chung (b. 1958, Taipei, Taiwan) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art Theory from the Taipei National University of the Art. He represented Taiwan at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997) with ‘Facing Faces – Taiwan’ and participated in the International Triennale of Contemporary Art Yokohama (2005) and the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2009) and Taipei Biennial (2010). Yao specialises in painting, photography and installation works which focus on examining the absurdity of the human condition. He also writes art criticism and teaches art history at the National Taiwan Normal University Department of Fine Arts.

Arin Rungjang (Thailand)

Golden Teardrop

2013

Sculpture and video installation

Sculpture: 320 × 500 × 400 cm, video duration 30:00 mins

Singapore Art Museum collection

Nominated by Gridthiya Gaweewong

Golden Teardrop alludes to a traditional egg-yolk dessert first created in mediaeval convents in Portugal and introduced to the 17th century Siamese court by a Portuguese- Bengali-Japanese woman who was the wife of the Greek counsellor to the King. Called thong yod in Thai, the dessert is now prevalent in homes and streetside snack carts across the country. The work features a spherical sculpture consisting of almost 6,000 brass teardrops, suspended from a large frame made of timber salvaged from a traditional Thai house and steel beams from an old factory. A documentary video intersperses the family story of a Japanese woman living in present-day Thailand with process footage about the making of Golden Teardrop, and the artist’s meditative narrative about the origins of thong yod, framed through Thai history.

The stories behind this work span more than 500 years, stretching from the canal-filled Portuguese coastal town of Averio to historic Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River, touching Europe, South Asia and East Asia along the way. It evokes the complex syncretic origins of Southeast Asian cultures – shaped by shared sea-trading practices and riverine topographies – and shows how they continue to interdependently evolve. Its hybrid structure is a paean to the serendipitous aspects of historical development, and highlights personal memory, oral histories and family dramas in the face of the official recorded histories of world wars, colonial campaigns and monarchical dynasties.

Arin Rungjang (b. 1974, Bangkok, Thailand) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Silpakorn University, Thailand (2002) and has been recognised as a pioneer of installation practice in his home country. His works are often grounded in his personal experience and the complex political and cultural history of Thailand. Rungjang represented Thailand in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) with Golden Teardrop, and has participated in the 4th Asian Art Biennale in Taichung, Taiwan (2013), 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012), the Bandung City Pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale (2012) and the Asia Triennial in Manchester, United Kingdom (2011).

 

Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam)

Unsubtitled

2013

Video projection on wood cut-outs

Dimensions variable

Singapore Art Museum collection

Nominated by Tran Luong

Low murmurings and soft sounds of chewing and swallowing reverberate in a darkened space through which loom life-size projections of 19 individuals. Nguyen Trinh Thi documented these artists, curators, writers and key figures from the independent contemporary art scene in Hanoi as they ate a food item of their choice, stated their name and identified what they had just consumed. The act of eating is rendered artificial and uncomfortable by their standing postures, and their individualised utterances delivered head-on into the camera subtly suggest interrogation procedures, or the practice of selfcriticism, in which a person must explain every intention, revisit every action, and account for his or her very existence.

With Unsubtitled, Nguyen Trinh Thi continues her investigation into the history and development of the place and role of the artist in society. The figures in the work assume complex positions: on one hand their stances evoke the controls and scrutiny pervasive in the cultural scene of her home country, yet their commitment to their artistic practice and individual identities is symbolically asserted by the universal, elemental and sustaining act of eating. Even as the artists engage in a collective performance, made durational through the medium of video, their individual identities remain distinct through quirks of attitude, action, voice and attire. This work is a haunting testimony to the enduring yet fragile condition that is freedom of expression.

Nguyen Trinh Thi (b. 1973, Hanoi, Vietnam) holds a Bachelor of Arts in Russian and English from the Hanoi Foreign Studies College, a Master of Arts in Professional Journalism from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Pacific International Affairs from the University of California. She is the founder of the Hanoi Centre for the Moving Image (Hanoi DOCLAB), an independent space for documentary film and video art. Her works have been shown at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2012), Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum (2012), and the Mie Prefectural Art Museum (2012) in Japan as well as at Kuandu Biennale, Taipei and the Tate Modern, London.

Detailed artist’ statements and biographies can be found at http://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg/apbfSAP2014.html

Annex B: APB Foundation Signature Art Prize Judges & comments

Feng Boyi (China)

Feng Boyi is an eminent independent art curator and critic of Chinese contemporary art. As a critic and editor, Feng has also edited and published numerous books, catalogues and papers on art and established the Artists’ Alliance, a major online forum for contemporary art in China.

“An important factor when planning an art prize is to ensure the procedure is standardised and rigorous. The art prize has to possess authority and representation, so that the public knows for certain that the selection process is conducted well and the selected works are worthy of being in the top 15 or winning a prize. The choice of having only two Juror’s Choice Awards is a step towards this rigour and a prize that has a higher academic value and authority, while still being representative. I am happy with our choices, and the panel has chosen artists that use varied mediums including installation, performance, video and painting.”

Luckana Kunavichayanont (Thailand)

Luckana Kunavichayanont is the Director of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC), and was both initiator and curator of Tadu Contemporary Art in Bangkok. She co-curated Thailand’s contribution to the 2003 Venice Biennale, and is a member of the Board of Advisors for the 2008 More to Love project.

“As judges from different regions, we had a good debate over any uncertainty and in the end we managed to decide quite unanimously. We live in a globalised world, and face the same problems like identity, immigration, urban expansion, depletion of natural resources, old values that disappear and cultural diversity and all the issues that come with evolving human society. Yet, in different places these issues have their own cultural history and background, while going back to basic questions and issues common to humanity. It’s interesting to see how art can be a process that sheds light on understanding our own societies.”

Dr. Susie Lingham (Singapore)

Dr. Susie Lingham is the current director of Singapore Art Museum. She was an assistant professor with the visual and performing arts academic group at the National Institute of Education. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in literature, religion and philosophy from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Contemporary artencompasses a myriad of forms and materials, as well as different innovative methodologies. Coupled with the fact that theAsia Pacific is a vastgeographic and culturally diverse region,what this prize does is bring together the very best of contemporary art. As judges, we worked together, guided by exacting criteria, where the emphasis was on originality, depth and significance of the aesthetic experience as intended by the artist. The finalists’ works bring fresh perspectives into an evolving understanding of ourselves as complex cultural, emotional and intellectual beings. Definitely something to look forward to!

Chris Saines (Australia)

Chris Saines has over 30 years’ experience leading public art institutions in Australia and New Zealand. Currently the Director of Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, he previously led a major $125 million building development for the Auckland Art Gallery where he established a Foundation that contributed $52.5 million and managed the project from inception to completion.

“The 15 Finalists form a strong shortlist, and will be a very fine exhibition. There is a real diversity of medium, approach and conceptual investigation, which will be a rich and rewarding experience for visitors. Art prizes don’t always deliver great experiences, but this is different. Prizes should also educate visitors about contemporary practice and the approach in the region. Both the Grand Prize and the Jurors’ Choice Awards are generous, and that is good. Regardless, exhibiting at SAM will add to prominence to the Finalist artists. It’s excellent that SAM has invited museum directors to the jury panel, as they understand the space considerations as well as the political dynamics of institutions.”

Pooja Sood (India)

Pooja Sood is the Director of KHOJ International Artists’ Association, an artist-led registered society aimed at promoting intercultural understanding through experimentation and exchange. It is possibly the only such public organization for experimental contemporary art in India. In New Delhi, she developed a radical space for alternative art practice at the KHOJ studios, which runs workshops, international residency programmes and diverse projects. She is also the Regional Coordinator of the international artists’ network facilitated by the Triangle Arts Trust, UK.

“Any pool of nominations in general has the potential to be uneven because it covers so many countries, but overall the nominators did their job and proposed works of very high quality, so getting down to 40 and then to the 15 Finalists was tough. The video works in particular were very, very good. I think it is important that when you ask nominators for (works from) the last three years that the range has to be from senior to mid-career, cause I think the junior ones could just be doing a one-off work. This is an expensive prize and needs to be given that status.”

 

Annex C: APB Foundation Signature Art Prize In-Conjunction Events

Public & Education Programmes

Curator Tour

Interested in finding out about the latest developments in the contemporary art scene of the Asia-Pacific region? Join SAM curator, Sam I-shan, as she shares curatorial insights about the artworks featured in the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize finalist exhibition, the development of the selection criteria and the judging of the best contemporary art in Asia-Pacific over the last three years.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 | 7:30pm – 8:30pm | SAM Lobby

$15. Tickets available at SAM and SISTIC.

Limited spaces. For ticket availability at the door, please call SISTIC.

Educators’ Tours and Talks

Follow SAM curator, Sam I-shan, as she shares her thoughts on the 15 finalist artworks from the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Finalists Exhibition. If you are an educator keen to find out more about the latest developments in the visual arts scene of the Asia Pacific region, join us for this tour now.

This tour will also give an overview of the exhibition and provide key insights to educators preparing to bring students over for a visit.

Thursday, 20 November 2014 | 4:00pm – 5:30pm | SAM Lobby

Free*

*Note: Tour will not proceed if total sign-up rate is below minimum number of participants. This event is exclusive to teachers only. Registration is open until 18 November 2014. Visit singaporeartmuseum.sg to register for the Educators’ Tours and Talks.

Director’s Tour

Be one of the first to gather what goes on behind-the-scenes of this APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014. Join Dr Susie Lingham, Director of SAM as well as one of the judges of this award, as she shares insights and anecdotes on the finalist artworks and the winning piece.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 | 7:30pm – 8:30pm | SAM

$15. Tickets available at SAM and SISTIC.

Limited spaces. For ticket availability at the door, please call SISTIC.

APB Foundation Signature Art Prize Judges’ Panel

Join our panel of eminent judges as they discuss the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 finalists and the winning works, and gain insights into the selection criteria and judging process for the best contemporary art in Asia-Pacific over the last three years. The judges will also discuss the role of prizes, awards and the question of value in the art world.

Judges: Ms. Luckana Kunavichayanont (Director, Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre), Mr. Chris Saines (Director, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art), Ms. Pooja Sood (Director, KHOJ International Artists’ Association), and Dr. Susie Lingham (Director, Singapore Art Museum)

Friday, 23 January 2015 | 7:30pm | SAM Glass Hall

Free

Artist and Curator Dialogue Tours

Take a special tour through the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Artist Finalists Exhibition, led by the curator and the finalist artists who will speak about their artworks as well as their art practice.

Saturday, 24 January 2015 | 11:00am – 12.30pm and 2:00 pm – 3.30pm

SAM | Reception

$15 per session. Tickets available at SAM and SISTIC.

Limited spaces. For ticket availability at the door, please call SISTIC.

APB Foundation Signature Art Prize Artist Folios

The Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Artist Finalists Exhibition Folios are educational resources that educators, parents, students and art enthusiasts can download for free, to explore and engage more deeply with the APBFoundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Artist Finalists Exhibition artworks. Each of the finalists has a dedicated folio which contains information about their practice and artwork, as well as suggested activities, discussion questions, further reading and viewing lists that audiences can use to plan or enhance their visit.

Visitors can make use of the questions in the folios to engage in discussions about the artworks during their visit to the exhibition, while the suggested activities are for educators or parents to conduct with their students or children for further exploration beyond the visit. Educators can also make use of these folios when planning school lessons or visits to APBFoundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Artist Finalists Exhibition.

The Artist Folios are available for free download athttp://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

WORKSHOPS

Charcoal-Infused Soap Making Workshop

Bamboo charcoal has been used for centuries in Asian skin care products for its detoxifying, skin nourishing attributes. This workshop by Soap Ministry explores the use of such wholesome organic ingredients in natural handmade soap. Participants will experiment with soap recipe and customise them with their own choice of mould design and essential oil scent.

Registration of $50 includes one set of ingredients and tool kit, miniature door gift and entitles you to a complimentary lifetime membership with Soap Ministry.

Saturday, 31 January 2015 | 2.00pm – 3.30pm | SAM Glass Hall

Saturday, 28 February 2015 | 2.00pm – 3.30pm | SAM Glass Hall

$50. Tickets available at SAM and SISTIC.

Limited spaces. For ticket availability at the door, please call SISTIC.

Bookbinding Workshop

This intensive 4 hour hands-on workshop will give a better understanding and appreciation for hand-bound books that transcends across time periods and cultures. Each workshop will delve into traditional bookbinding techniques like Japanese stab binding and Coptic binding, and learning to incorporate it with different art mediums and expression. Conducted by The Thistle Bindery, each session will begin with a 30-min tour of specific art pieces from the Asia Pacific BreweriesFoundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Artist Finalists Exhibition.

Japanese Stab Binding

Be amazed by the visual illusions of motion and transformation in Lenticular Art. Traditional lenticular has images changing when it is viewed from different angles, producing a dreamy or animated ‘morphing’ effect. Participants will be introduced to the techniques of creating a lenticular pop-out book. Simple book making and binding method will be taught to enhance your lenticular craft.

Saturday, 7 February 2015 | 2.00pm – 3.30pm | SAM Glass Hall

$32, inclusive of 1 set of materials per pair. Tickets available at SAM and SISTIC.

Limited spaces. For ticket availability at the door, please call SISTIC.

3-D Tunnel Book Workshop

(Suitable for parent and child)

This exploratory, 3-dimensional diorama is sure to captivate the imaginations of both young and old, without the need for 3D glasses. A chance for parent and child to bond creatively in designing and telling a story through a tunnel book. This tunnel book will comprise of parent and child’s self-illustrated pictures and will be constructed into a book form. Looking through the book’s central ‘window’ gives the effect of looking into a 3-dimensional landscape. Learn about depths and perspectives through these peepshow books. Go wild with ideas and turn your illustrations into a miniature, magical world of your own.

Open House at SAM

Christmas Day

Thursday 25 December 2014

Come celebrate Christmas with free entry to all galleries at SAM from 10am. Join us for fun, hands-on activities organised for everyone in the family. Activities start from 11am and run till 6pm.

Visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sgfor more information about ongoing exhibitions and programmes during the Open House.


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