Charles Lim Yi Yong: SEA STATE
SEA STATE by artist Charles Lim Yi Yong, commissioned for the Singapore Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale and curated by Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, will be presented at the NTU CCA Singapore from 30 April to 10 July 2016. For over a decade, Lim’s ongoing project SEA STATE examines the biophysical, political and psychic contours of Singapore through the visible and invisible lenses of the sea. SEA STATE is an in-depth inquiry by an artist that scrutinises both man-made systems, opening new perspectives on our everyday surroundings, from unseen landscapes and disappearing islands to the imaginary boundaries of a future landmass.
First held at the Palazzo Franchetti on the occasion of the Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, the symposium The Geopolitical and the Biophysical: a structured conversation on Art and Southeast Asia in context will continue and expand upon the debate with a second iteration at NTU CCA Singapore during Lim’s exhibition on 17 and 18 June 2016.
The presentation of SEA STATE and the symposium The Geopolitical and the Biophysical: a structured conversation on Art and Southeast Asia in context, Part II held at NTU CCA Singapore are generously supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth, National Arts Council Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board.
Charles Lim Yi Yong and Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, together with the team who worked on the realisation for SEA STATE for the Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015, will discuss various aspects of the project, from the development of the work to the exhibition, from the technical and logistical aspects to the presentation in Venice. Lim and Mustafa will also address how the presentation of SEA STATE at the NTU CCA Singapore differs to the Venice presentation
Charles Lim Yi Yong (b. 1973, Singapore; lives and works in Singapore) studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London, graduating in 2001. In 2002, he participated in Documenta11 in Kassel, Germany as a member of the net-art collective tsunamii.net. A former professional and Olympic sailor, Lim’s practice stems from an intimate, bodily engagement with the natural world, mediated and informed by field research and experimentation, performance, drawing, photography and video.
Charles Lim’s moving image works have been screened in international film festivals at Rotterdam, Tribeca and Edinburgh. His short film all the lines flow out premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival in 2011 and received a Special Mention, making him the first Singaporean to be honoured at the festival. Recent iterations of SEA STATE have been exhibited at Manifesta 7 (2008), the Institut d’Art Contemporain Villeurbanne, France (2013) and at biennales in Shanghai (2008), Singapore (2011) and Osaka (2013). Various stages of the project have been presented at all of Singapore’s major institutions, including the National Museum, National Library, Singapore Art Museum and National University of Singapore Museum.
Shabbir Hussain Mustafa curated SEA STATE for the Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. He is Senior Curator at the National Gallery Singapore, where he researches art from Singapore and Southeast Asia. He also led the curatorial team overseeing the development of the multi-year long project SIAPA NAMA KAMU? a permanent exhibition space that surveys art in Singapore from the 19th century to the present. He was formerly a curator at the National University of Singapore Museum (NUS Museum), where his curatorial practice centred on the deployment of archival materials to engage different modes of thinking and writing, whilst opening the archive to the varied struggles of perception and reading.
Mustafa’s numerous curatorial projects have ranged across Southeast Asia, including the critically acclaimed Camping and Tramping through The Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya (2011) and The Sufi and The Bearded Man (2010). He co-conceived the experimental project space prep room | things that may or may not happen and other accumulative platforms namely malayablackandwhite, writing power | Zulkifli Yusoff (2011), semblance/presence | Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo (2012) and Curating Nation (2011). Most recently, he curated In Search of Raffles’ Light | An Art Project with Charles Lim (2013), a three-year collaboration with the artist that tracked the immaterial, mundane and irreconcilable traces surrounding Singapore’s fractured relationship with the sea. Mustafa has written extensively about methodological considerations for the rethinking of curatorial practice in Singapore and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics, Singapore.
Yap Seok Hui has toured with theatre and dance productions to Asia and Europe, undertaking various production, technical & stage management roles. Selected credits include Ten Thousand Tigers (Ho Tzu Nyen); Macho Dancer (Eisa Jocson); The Gay Romeo (Daniel Kok); and SoftMachine (Choy Ka Fai). A co-founding member of Singapore-based art installation company ARTFACTORY which collaborates with local artists, art institutions and curators in the creation of media art works, she has also worked on the technical installations for exhibitions at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India, Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy, and Sharjah Arts Space, United Arab Emirates.
Image credits: Curator Shabbir Hussain Mustafa and artist Charles Lim. Courtesy of the National Arts Council
Jegan Vincent de Paul presents his ongoing doctoral research on the People’s Republic of China’s “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure development project. Questioning the role of art in creating new understandings of today’s geopolitical events, his project brings together critical analysis and aesthetic accounts of the “One Belt, One Road” project. Attention is paid to countries where construction and conflict overlap, particularly Burma, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Jegan Vincent de Paul (Canada/Singapore) is a researcher with a background in architecture (University of Toronto) and visual studies (MIT). He is the co-founder of Counter, where he produced projects for a number of artists and organisations such as Voices Beyond Walls, Nakba Archive, the MIT Museum, and the MIT School of Engineering. He is currently a PhD candidate at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore), and School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University.
Image credits: Charles Lim Yi Yong, SEA STATE 6: phase1 (2015), film still. Courtesy of the artist.
This workshop was developed in collaboration with Kelly Reedy, a former lecturer at the National Institute of Education, who specialises in teaching how museums and galleries can be used to enhance student learning through visual arts. The workshop is created to engage educators in contemporary art and artistic practices. Highlighting the educational aspects of the various works presented in SEA STATE, it will allow the teachers to prepare for visits with their school classes.
To sign up for this workshop, please email to: NTUCCAeducation@ntu.edu.sg.
Kelly Reedy has worked in Singapore for over 18 years as an artist and educator. Her mixed media paintings, prints and installations reflect her keen interest in the ancient techniques still used in Asian traditional arts as well as the rich symbolism embedded in its mythologies. She has exhibited her artwork internationally in Paris, Chicago, and Berlin, as well as locally at the Jendela Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, and Alliance Française. Engaged in museum education for more than a decade, she has developed educational resources for the National Gallery Singapore and trained teachers at the National Institute of Education, specialising in visual arts education in museums and galleries.
Image credit: Charles Lim Yi Yong, SEA STATE 2: as evil disappears (Sajahat Buoy) (2014), detail. Courtesy of the artist.
This workshop will give an insight to Singapore’s participation in the Venice Biennale, and to the process involved in selecting and commissioning the project. The speakers will highlight purpose and opportunity, as well as the challenges inherent in such an undertaking. SEA STATE, the most recent commission for Singapore Pavilion in 2015, took place at the new location, Sale d’Armi situated at the Arsenale. Leased for the next nine editions, it will put Singapore’s artists in closer proximity to the other national presentations.
As part of Art Day Out! at Gillman Barracks. For more information about Art Day Out!, visit www.gillmanbarracks.com.
Sophia Loke (Singapore) is an arts administrator at the National Arts Council. She has been involved in the project management of the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale since 2009 and has also been involved with sector development for the visual arts, in particular reviews of grants, capability development, and Singapore’s return to the Venice Biennale in 2015. She has experience working in Theatre and Corporate Communications, and was responsible for the publicity of the Singapore Arts Festival (2008). Loke graduated with a BA (Hon) in History from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and has an interest in musicology, particularly the practice of sacred music.
June Yap (Singapore) is an independent curator, previously Deputy Director and Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE, and Curator at the Singapore Art Museum. Selected curatorial projects include Dear Painter at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore (2015); No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia as part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative (2014); The Cloud of Unknowing at the Singapore Pavilion at 54th Venice Biennale with artist Ho Tzu Nyen (2011); the video programme You and I, We’ve Never Been So Far Apart: Works from Asia for VideoZone5 at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv (2010); The Future of Exhibition: It Feels Like I’ve Been Here Before at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore (2011); Das Paradies ist Anderswo / Paradise is Elsewhere at Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), Germany (2009); and Bound for Glory with artist Wong Hoy Cheong at the National University of Singapore Museum (2008).
Image credit: Charles Lim Yi Yong: SEA STATE, detail of installation, Singapore Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale 2015. Courtesy of the artist.
3 Jun 2016, Fri 7:30pm - 10:00pm
As a prelude to the symposium The Geopolitical and the Biophysical: a structured conversation on Art and Southeast Asia in context, Part II, this selection of films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, attempts to set up a “conversation” between two artist-filmmakers, Apichatpong and Charles Lim Yi Yong. Both have explored ideas of the “entropic” in the Southeast Asian context. Lim’s film, all the lines flow out (2011) is showing at The Single Screen as part of the SEA STATE exhibition. Dr David Teh’s research on the region’s visual cultures puts special emphasis on the moving image and other non-traditional media.
This programme will be held over two evenings.
Wednesday, 1 June 2016, 7.30 – 10.00pm
Cemetery of Splendour (2015) | 122 mins
The plot revolves around a spreading epidemic of sleeping sickness where spirits appear to the stricken and hallucination becomes indistinguishable from reality. The epidemic is used as a metaphor for personal and Thai societal issues.
Soldiers with a mysterious sleeping sickness are transferred to a temporary clinic in a former school. The memory-filled space becomes a revelatory world for a housewife and volunteer Jenjira, as she watches over Itt, a handsome soldier with no family visitors. Jen befriends young medium Keng who uses her psychic powers to help loved ones communicate with the comatose men. Doctors explore ways, including coloured light therapy, to ease the mens’ troubled dreams. Jen discovers Itt’s cryptic notebook of strange writings and blueprint sketches. There may be a connection between the soldiers’ enigmatic syndrome and the mythic ancient site that lies beneath the clinic. Magic, healing, romance and dreams are all part of Jen’s tender path to a deeper awareness of herself and the world around her.
Friday, 3 June 2016, 7.30 – 10.00pm
Tropical Malady (2004) | 118 mins
Keng is a soldier assigned to a post in a small city in rural Thailand. The troops’ main duties, it seems, is to investigate the mysterious slaying of cattle at local farms. While in the field one day, Keng meets Tong. Both of them share a connection and embark on a romance, taking trips in the countryside.
One night, the country boy wanders off into the dark. The film’s narrative abruptly shifts to a different story, about a soldier sent alone into the woods to find a lost villager. In the woods, the soldier encounters the spirit of a tiger shaman, who taunts and bedevils the soldier, causing him to run through the woods and become lost and isolated himself.
Dr John van Wyhe, historian of science and the Founder and Director of Darwin Online will speak about Charles Darwin’s study and obsession with barnacles. His study of these dull, unsung encrustations of rocks reveal secrets: from the extinction of giant animals in South America, to the build up of earthquakes in the Andes. His research uncovers the true diversity of the living world and even suggests the historical evolution of sexuality.
18 Jun 2016, Sat 9:30am - 6:00pm
Friday, 17 June: 7.00 – 9.00pm
National Gallery Singapore, Auditorium, 1 St. Andrew’s Road
Saturday, 18 June: 9.30am – 6.00pm
NTU CCA Singapore, The Single Screen, Block 43 Malan Road
The NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore) presents The Geopolitical and the Biophysical: a structured conversation on Art and Southeast Asia in context, Part II, a symposium addressing the multiple notions of “Southeast Asia” and the various issues surrounding its borders, territories, dilemmas and anxieties. SEA STATE by artist Charles Lim Yi Yong, commissioned for the Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, explores the biophysical, political and psychic contours of Singapore and served as a point of departure for the symposium. Part I of the symposium took place in Venice, Italy during the opening days of the Biennale, and this second iteration will continue and deepen the discussions on the occasion of SEA STATE’s presentation at NTU CCA Singapore.
Southeast Asia, as a geographical region and conceptual category, is a contested entity shaped by diverse cultures and communities. The possibilities and uncertainties in this region – such as urban development, geopolitical relations, and anxieties surrounding national and regional identities – continue to pose unique social and political challenges.
The Geopolitical and the Biophysical: a structured conversation on Art and Southeast Asia in context, Part II brings together an array of eminent speakers and respondents to address questions of contemporary art and culture through interdisciplinary approaches – considering bodies of water as cultural-territorial spaces in an exploration of rivers, land reclamation, sea ports, and nomadic communities. The conversations arising from this symposium offers insight into the Southeast Asian consciousness and how it informs the region’s evolving relationship with the wider world.
The symposium is organised by NTU CCA Singapore under its Research & Education programme, which aims to connect research based artistic practices with other forms of knowledge production. As a prelude to the symposium, NTU CCA Singapore will screen films by Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul on 1 and 3 June 2016 to set up a “conversation” between two artist-filmmakers, Apichatpong and Charles Lim Yi Yong.
Screening of films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Day 1: Wednesday, 1 June 2016, 7.30 – 10.00pm | Cemetery of Splendour (2015)
Day 2: Friday, 3 June 2016, 7.30 – 10.00pm | Tropical Malady (2004)
NTU CCA Singapore, The Single Screen
Block 43 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109443
Day 1: National Gallery Singapore, Friday 17 June 2016, 7.00 – 9.00pm
7.30 – 7.45pm
Paul Tan (Singapore), Deputy CEO, National Arts Council
Professor Ute Meta Bauer (Germany/Singapore), Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
In a Time of Earthquakes: Contemporary Chinese Artists Shake the World
by Professor Aihwa Ong (Malaysia/United States), Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology and Chair of Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
Respondent: Professor C.J. Wee Wan-ling (Singapore), Division of English, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, NTU
Day 2: NTU CCA Singapore, Saturday 18 June 2016, 9.30am – 6.00pm
10.00 – 10.10am
Opening address by chairperson, Professor Ute Meta Bauer
SEA STATE: Charles Lim’s Video-and Photo-graphic Eye
by Professor Michael M.J. Fischer (United States), Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, and Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Respondent: Dr Kristy H.A. Kang (United States/Singapore), Assistant Professor, School of Art, Design & Media, NTU
11.20am – 12.30pm
Session 1: The River and its Representations
Speaker: Gridthiya Gaweewong (Thailand), Artistic Director and Curator, Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok
Respondent: Dr David Teh (Australia/Singapore), Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore (NUS)
1.30 – 1.40pm
Opening address by chairperson, Dr David Teh
Speakers: Joshua Comaroff (United States/Singapore), design consultant, Lekker Architects; and Seth Denizen (United States), PhD candidate, Department of Geography, UC Berkeley
Respondent: Shabbir Hussain Mustafa (Singapore), curator, SEA STATE, and Senior Curator, National Gallery Singapore
2.50 – 4.20pm
Session 3: Of Nomads and Sea Ports
Speakers: Dr Donna Brunero (Australia/Singapore), Senior Lecturer, Department of History, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, NUS; Dr Wee Beng Geok (Singapore), Consultant, Nanyang Business School, NTU; and Dr Vivienne Wee (Singapore), independent anthropologist and researcher
Respondent: Dr Imran bin Tajudeen (Singapore), Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, NUS
4.40 – 6.00pm
Participants: Professor Michael M.J. Fischer, Charles Lim Yi Yong, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, and Professor Aihwa Ong.
Moderators: Professor Ute Meta Bauer and Dr David Teh.
For further information and RSVP, email NTUCCAresearch@ntu.edu.sg.
The programme is commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC) and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), with additional support from U.S. Embassy Singapore and National Gallery Singapore.
Conversations revolving around ideas of Singapore’s landscape as conjured from various sources and viewpoints. The speakers will offer their own perspectives of Singapore’s landscapes, and anecdotes uncovered from various archives and researches, as well as recollect expunged and forgotten places and their inhabitants.
The former Chief Defence Scientist with the Ministry of Defence, Professor Lui will talk about Singapore’s water development, its borders and coastline. Speaking on a more personal note on his relationship to the sea, Professor Lui will also talk about his experiences and challenges while working on the Jurong Rock Caverns. Professor Lui’s support was instrumental in enabling the filming of SEA STATE 6: phase1 (2015).