3 – 26 May 2016
Svay Sareth was born in 1972 in Battambang, Cambodia during a period of political turmoil and violence that would last until he was 18 years old. Svay began making art as a young teenager in the Site 2 refugee camp, near the Thai-Cambodian border. He describes life as a refugee as “a void nationality…a time and place you imagine escaping from”. Drawing and painting became a daily activity for Svay – a process of bearing witness to the psychological and physical violence that was an everyday experience, as well as a way to symbolically escape and dream of change. After the wars ended, Svay went on to co-found Phare Ponlue Selepak, a non-governmental organisation and art school in Battambang that continues to thrive today. In 2002, the artist continued his studies in France, earning the Diplôme National Supérieur d’Études des Arts Plastiques / MFA in 2009, after which he returned to Siem Reap to live and work.
Solo exhibitions include I, Svay Sareth, am eating rubber sandals (2015) and Traffic Circle (2012) both SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Select group exhibitions; 2016 include Phnom Penh, Rescues Archaeology, The Body and the Lens in the City, Fragments & Empire: Cambodian Art from the Angkor Period, John Young Museum of Art, University of Hawaii (2016), Prudential Eye Awards Finalist Exhibition, Art Science Museum, Singapore (2016); After Utopia, Singapore Art Museum (2015), Singapore; Gods, Heroes and Clowns: Performance and Narrative in South and Southeast Asian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Secret Archipelago, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015). In 2016, he won Prudential Eye Award Best Emerging Artist Using Sculpture and Overall Best Emerging Artist.
Svay Sareth’s works in sculpture, installation and durational performance are made using materials and processes intentionally associated with war – metals, uniforms, camouflage and actions requiring great endurance. While his critical and cathartic practice is rooted in an autobiography of war and resistance, he refuses both historical particularity and voyeurism on violence. Rather, his works traverse both present and historical moments, drawing on processes of survival and adventure, and ideas of power and futility. More recently, Svay confronts the idea that “the present is also a dangerous time” through the appropriation and dramatisation of public monuments that hint at contentious political histories. During his residency, Svay will research Singapore-Cambodia relations and history, and make use of libraries and archives specific to Singapore.
Residencies: OPEN offers a rare insight into the often-introverted sphere of the artists’ studio. Through showcasing discussions, performances, research and works in progress, OPEN profiles the diversity of contemporary art practice and the divergent ways artists make artwork with the studio as a constant space for experimentation and contemplation.
Julian ‘Togar’ Abraham (Block 37 Malan Road, Studio #01-02)
Oscillating between the position of an artist, musician and pseudo scientist, the work of Julian ‘Togar’ Abraham – often expressed in complex algorithms – challenge the experiences in how art, the environment, science and technology relate to one another and our understanding of these usually distinct fields.
Togar will conduct Fermentation Madness, a workshop that experiments with the fermentation process inviting participants to brew their own alcohol using their chosen combinations of fruit. More information here.
Kray Chen (Block 37 Malan Road, Studio #01-03)
Kray Chen’s (Singapore) practice brings attention to the certain behaviours in society, tapping into their absurd and futile characteristic to discuss progress, value and pleasure in contemporary society. While in residence, Chen will continue this line of research into the specific threads of absurdity such as ‘Waiting’ by examining the equation between labour and gratification in different activities, and in turn on reflecting social, cultural and political performativity In relation to the absurd.
Svay Sareth (Block 38 Malan Road, Studio #01-06)
Svay Sareth’s (Cambodia) works in sculpture, installation and durational performance are made using materials and processes intentionally associated with war – metals, uniforms, camouflage and actions requiring great endurance. While his critical and cathartic practice is rooted in an autobiography of war and resistance, he refuses both historical particularity and voyeurism on violence. Rather, his works traverse both present and historical moments, drawing on processes of survival and adventure, and ideas of power and futility.
Tan Pin Pin (Block 38 Malan Road, Studio #01-07)
Tan Pin Pin (Singapore) is an award-winning director of To Singapore, with Love, Invisible City and Singapore GaGa. She is interested with how we became who are, how our Singapore identity is constructed, the importance of memory, archives and documentation in the formation of that identity.
Image credit: Saleh Husein, Residencies: OPEN as part of Art Day Out!, 19 March 2016. Courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore.