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NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is embarking on an inquiry into natural materials, exploring the knowledge they embody as biological forms as well as within social, geopolitical, and historical contexts. Trees of Life – Knowledge in Material is part of the Centre’s long-term research cluster CLIMATES. HABITATS. ENVIRONMENTS.

26th Jun, 2018

PRESS RELEASE

Trees of Life–Knowledge in Material

21 July–30 September 2018

Opening Reception: Friday, 20 July, 7.00–9.00pm
Guest-of-Honour: Chang Hwee Nee, Chief Executive Officer, National Heritage Board, Singapore

Media Preview: Thursday, 19 July 2018, 11.00am–12.00pm
Artist Phi Phi Oanh will be present.

Image credit: Liang Shaoji, Lonely Cloud (detail), 2016, wood, silk, cocoons, steel pipes. Courtesy the artist.

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is embarking on an inquiry into natural materials, exploring the knowledge they embody as biological forms as well as within social, geopolitical, and historical contexts. Trees of Life – Knowledge in Material is part of the Centre’s long-term research cluster CLIMATES. HABITATS. ENVIRONMENTS.

This exhibition focuses on materials from four plants deeply rooted in Asia: indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), lacquer (Rhus succedanea and Melanorrhoea usitata), rattan (Calamoideae), and mulberry (Morus). The works trace the ongoing involvement with these plants in the artistic practices of Manish Nai (India) with indigo, Phi Phi Oanh (United States/Vietnam) with lacquer, Sopheap Pich (Cambodia) with rattan, and Liang Shaoji (China) and Vivian Xu (China) with mulberry silk. While the featured installations serve as a starting point to uncover the materiality of the chosen plants, the study of their natural and cultural DNA allows further exploration into their biological processes and diverse usages at their locale.

The artworks intertwine with selected research documents that address the complex histories and circulation, as well as the effects of human intervention on these natural resources. Starting from the properties and characteristics of the materials themselves, the project expands into their cultural representation and significance for communities and their crafts.

The longstanding social and cultural practices associated with indigo, lacquer, rattan, and mulberry silk have accumulated a vast repository of knowledge, whether formal or tacit. Beyond the format of the exhibition, topical seminars have been dedicated to each of the four materials, further investigating their social applications over time in terms of their materiality, cultural references, expanded ecology, and as arising from technological advancements. Through lectures, panels, talks, and workshops, participating artists, craftsmen, ethnobotanists, anthropologists, scientists, scholars, and designers unfold their diverse perspectives. This series reiterates the deeper role art and craft traditions have in supporting local communities and ecosystems.

The project Trees of Life–Knowledge in Material is led by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore and Professor, NTU School of Art, Design and Media (ADM); Laura Miotto, Associate Professor and Co-director, MA Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices, NTU ADM; and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore.

More details on Trees of Life–Knowledge in Material and related Topical Seminar programmes can be found on our website: http://ntu.ccasingapore.org/exhibitions/trees-of-life-knowledge-in-material/  

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