On the occasion of the launch of the Digital Resource Platform, NTU CCA Singapore is presenting a selection of materials from Singapore’s Independent Archive (IA), a research and resource platform dedicated to time-based media, established by internationally-renowned artist Lee Wen (Singapore) in 2012. For the past six years, the IA captured the zeitgeist of performance art in Singapore and larger (South-)East Asia through artistic collaborations.
This presentation in The Lab is organised into five chapters —“Condition,” “Body,” “Formation / Gestalt,” “Absence,” and “Memory”—that look at the development of performance art as a new medium as well as its political conditions. Journey of a Yellow Man. takes visitors through the archive with photographs, videos, writings, sketchbooks, while simultaneously, introducing the digital archive. As of today, the Centre has digitalised 20,000 files from the IA.
The practice of Lee Wen is motivated by social investigations that use art to interrogate stereotypical perceptions of culture and society. He became famous for his performance series Journey of a Yellow Man (1992—), where he embodied his Chinese descent and its relationship to oppressive systems.
The presentation provides insight into a continuously expanding resource platform that highlights ephemeral moments in the history of performance art in Singapore. The project addresses the importance of providing historically significant source material for researchers and the wider public. The digitalised files will be integrated into NTU CCA Singapore’s Public Resource Platform and will be accessible at the Centre, the Independent Archive, and the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, a collaborative partner of this project.
With IA, a series of public programmes will take place in both The Lab at the NTU CCA Singapore and in the IA. The programme highlights IA as a “living archive” that not only serves as a reference library and archive focusing on time-based and event-specific art, but is also a gathering space that offers dynamic programmes in a vibrant network of artists, musicians, and the public.
Journey of a Yellow Man is curated by Sophie Goltz, Deputy Director, Research and Academic Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore, in collaboration with Lee Wen, artist and Founder, Independent Archive, Singapore, Bruce Quek, Research, Independent Archive, and Kamiliah Bahdar, Public Programmes, Independent Archive. Project Assistant: Ho See Wah, Young Professional Trainee, NTU CCA Singapore. Assistant to Lee Wen: Liu Wen Chao, Library, Independent Archive.
The NTU CCA Digital Resource Platform was initiated in 2016 by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, NTU ADM Singapore and Lee Wen, in collaboration with Chương-Đài Võ, Researcher, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. Assistant to the project: Bruce Quek with the support of Samantha Leong Min Yu, Executive, Conferences, Workshops & Archive, NTU CCA Singapore (till May 2018), Corine Chan Li Ling, Executive Archive, NTU CCA Singapore (May to July 2018), and Pooja Paras Mehta (2017), Ho See Wah (2018), Young Professional Trainees, NTU CCA Singapore.
Please see below the collaborative public programme with the Independent Archive.
Lee Wen (Singapore) was awarded the Cultural Medallion of Singapore in 2009. He entered the art scene comparatively late in the ‘80s, but quickly gained attention. His early practice was associated with The Artists Village in Singapore and later forged a more individuated artistic career. Lee Wen has been exploring different strategies of time-based and performance art since 1989. He helped initiate both R.I.T.E.S. (Rooted In The Ephemeral Speak) (2009-) and Future of Imagination (2003-), an international performance art event. Since 2012, he has taken an active interest in the memory of Singapore’s performance art history through the initiation of the Independent Archive. Recent group exhibitions include SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now, The National Arts Centre and Mori Art Museum, Japan (2017), Secret Archipelago, Palais de Tokyo, France (2015) and a solo show at the Singapore Art Museum (2012). Lee Wen was an NTU CCA Singapore Artist-in-Residence from August 2014 to February 2015.
Image credit: Lee Wen, Journey of a Yellow Man No. 15: Touching China, 2001, Pengshan County, Leshan, China. Courtesy Independent Archive.