COLLABORATIONS

SEA AiR – Studio Residencies for Southeast Asian Artists in the EU Cycle 2

About SEA AiR

SEA AiR is a new programme that aims to foster artistic exchange between Southeast Asia and the European Union, with Singapore as its hub. Developed by NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore), the project is funded by the European Union and it offers emerging Southeast Asian artists a long-term engagement comprising a three-month residency in a EU country and the opportunity to create new works, inspired by the residency experience, that will be presented to the public in Singapore in a group exhibition curated by NTU CCA Singapore. Dedicated to artists who have not yet had a significant professional experience in Europe, SEA AiR pivots the creative and cultural exchange between Southeast Asia and the European Union on emerging visual art practitioners by providing a significant platform for professional and personal growth through the format of artistic residencies and a curated group exhibition. The residencies are hosted by established European contemporary art institutions engaged as project partners.

SEA AiR Cycle 2

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Selection Process

Seven artists and curators from different Southeast Asian countries were invited to contribute to SEA AiR as nominators. Since artists from Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand participated in the inaugural cycle, the scouting process for the second cycle of SEA AiR focused on the remaining Southeast Asian countries to ensure the equitable distribution of the programme’s resources. The nominators were asked to leverage on their in-depth knowledge of the emerging contemporary art practices in their respective countries by nominating outstanding practitioners who could benefit from this opportunity. The nominated artists were subsequently invited to submit an application to participate in the programme.

After reviewing the applications for Cycle 2 the Selection Committee selected artists Priyageetha Dia (Singapore), Ngoc Nau (Vietnam) and Saroot Supasuthivech (Thailand). The Selection Committee also shortlisted five artists in acknowledgement of their artistic promise.

The SEA AiR Selection Committee for Cycle 2 included: Prof Ute Meta Bauer, (Chair), Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU;  Hicham Khalidi, Director, Jan Van Eyck Academie;  Monika Lipšic, Residency Curator, Rupert;  Christoph Tannert, Artistic Director, Künstlerhaus Bethanien;  Dr Karin Oen, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, Art History, NTU School of Humanities; and Eszter Nemeth, Deputy Head of Mission, European Union Delegation to Singapore.

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Exhibition:
PASSAGES

1 December 2023 - 28 January 2024
NTU CCA Singapore Residencies Studios
Block 38 Malan Road
Singapore 109441

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore presents the second-cycle exhibition of SEA AiR – Studio Residencies for Southeast Asian Artists in the European Union (SEA AiR), a programme developed by NTU CCA Singapore and funded by the European Union. Titled Passages, this exhibition features new works by artists Priyageetha Dia (Singapore), Ngoc Nau (Vietnam) and Saroot Supasuthivech (Thailand), inspired by their three-month-long residencies in Europe.  

As part of the SEA AiR programme, Dia had undertaken her residency at Jan van Eyck Academie (Netherlands), Nau at Rupert (Lithuania) and Supasuthivech at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Germany) through the summer. Bringing back their experiences from diverse contexts in the EU to Singapore for this exhibition, Passages speaks of the artists’ journeys across geographical and cultural boundaries from one continent to another; the cultural exchanges that take place during this time; and the continuous development of ideas as they return to their home countries to create new works for the exhibition.

Employing new media technologies to aid their storytelling, each artist creates speculative narratives that traverse time and space, shifting between the past and present. While distinct in their artistic research and practices, their works evoke memories and explore meanings in liminal spaces, reverberating in their journey from one passage to the next.

Priyageetha Dia’s research interest lies in the plantations of Southeast Asia and their colonial histories, including those of migrant labour and structures of production and power. She explores gaps in historical records that are not only text-based, but also non-textual ones such as photographs, artefacts and oral interviews. Her four-channel sound installation Sap Sonic is a sonification of images from the photo album of the Sumatra Caoutchouc Company, a rubber planting company, from the archives of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Beyond their visual representations, the images bear witness to the power dynamics between the coloniser and its labourers as well as the hierarchy between nature and machine. Reframing this landscape from a visual to a sonic one, Sap Sonic serves as an aural gateway to the plantations as it delves into the lived yet unspoken lives of those who work on and inhabit the plantations, both human and nonhuman. Accompanying the work, Sap Script is a text installation in white latex paint, referencing rubber sap, on a black, obsidian-like background. Its typeface echoes the slender and linear structure of rubber trees, distorted to resemble the waveform of sound waves. Through the intangible, unseen nature of sound, Sap Sonic probes aspects of the visual world; expanding the agentive possibilities of the uncounted and the underheard.

Ngoc Nau, Virtual Reverie: Echoes of a Forgotten Utopia, 2023, video still. Courtesy the artist.

Upon her arrival in Vilnius, Lithuania, for her residency, Ngoc Nau was drawn to Soviet-era architectural elements in the city, such as the Soviet brutalist architecture of the Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports. She also became intrigued with the iconic image of a Lenin statue being removed, with its legs severed, from the city centre square in 1991. This imagery became a point of departure for her exploration into multifaceted aspects of post-Soviet realities in her own country. Portraying contemporary life amidst the remnants of socialist architecture and monuments using 3D animation and visual effects, Nau’s video installation, Virtual Reverie: Echoes of a Forgotten Utopia, demonstrates the transformative power of technology in reshaping our perceptions of reality. Central to the work is a constructed representation of the Vietnam-Soviet Friendship Palace of Culture and Labour in Hanoi, Vietnam, that serves as a stage for five hip-hop dancers embarking on a symbolic journey. As they interact with elements drawn from historical references in Vietnam and Lithuania, the dancers bridge the gap between historical artifacts and contemporary experiences. Echoing the ebb and flow of ideologies, their passage brings about new meanings when past memories evolve in the face of shifting landscapes.

Saroot Supasuthivech’s multimedia installation, Spirit-forward in G Major, charts the transformative journey experienced by Thai expatriates in Germany, told through a metaphoric cycle of life, death and rebirth. The work’s narrative unfolds in four parts. "New Beginnings" uses therapeutic dialogues to depict the initial migrant experience. "A Surreal Interlude", based on interviews conducted with Thai monks and nuns in Berlin, transports viewers into a realm of magic and mortality inspired by Grimm's fairy tales. The third segment focuses on a Thai music score Sai Samon, the oldest documented. Finally, "A Glimpse Beyond" dives into a poetic meditation on death and the afterlife, told from the viewpoint of the deceased. This poignant culmination is an exploration into a liminal reality between the familiar and the surreal, encapsulating the interplay of tradition, adaptation and preservation within an evolving cultural landscape.



Passages will be held through Singapore Art Week 2024, with a public programme taking place on 20 January 2024. Details of the public programme can be found here

SEA AiR – Studio Residencies for Southeast Asian Artists in the European Union is made possible thanks to a generous grant of the European Union. 

Download the exhibition guide here.