Through the wide-angle lens of her research-based methodology, the artist will traverse the symbolic mapping of this migrant diaspora’s socio-cultural realities emblazoned in official accounts. She will focus on issues of exploitation and gender exclusion and employ computer-generated imagery and postcolonial linguistics to devise new storytelling approaches that subvert the hegemony of colonial epistemologies and bring to the surface silenced narratives, particularly those of Tamizh women.
Starting off the second season of AiRCAST, we hand over the microphone to curator and writer Anca Rujoiu to interview our Artist-in-Residence Priyageetha Dia. Priyageetha and Anca are fresh out of a year-long collaboration that culminated in Forget Me, Forget Me Not (2022), Priyageetha’s solo exhibition curated by Anca which opened last May. In this conversation they share about the background research, interests, and aesthetic strategies behind the new body of work presented in the exhibition. They also expand upon the significance of colonial histories and marginalised communities, agency and empowerment, as well as media and materials in Priyageetha’s practice.
Spanning moving image, sculpture, as well as performance and installation, the practice of Priyageetha Dia (b. 1992, Singapore) addresses identity politics by questioning dominant narratives, material histories, and socio-spatial relations. In the past few years, she has been experimenting with world-making gestures that rehash stories of repression and envision alternative futures. Her works have been included in several group exhibitions including Attention Seeker, La Trobe Art Institute, Bendigo, Australia (2022); An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season, National Gallery Singapore (2020); 2219: Futures Imagined, ArtScience Museum Singapore (2019).
Anca Rujoiu is a Romanian curator and editor who has been living and working in Singapore since 2013. Taking an artist-centred approach, she is committed to artistic practices beyond the West and to what falls through the cracks within its borders. She was a member of the founding team of NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, as Curator of Exhibitions (2013–15) and Head of Publications (2016–18) and she has curated numerous exhibitions, public programs, and publishing projects. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at Monash University with a research focused on institution building, artists-led institutions, and transnational exchanges.
Contributors: Priyageetha Dia, Anca Rujoiu
Editor: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Nadia Amalina
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon
Intro & Outro Music: Yuen Chee Wai
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan
03’03”: Audio excerpt from WE.REMAIN.IN.MULTIPLE.MOTIONS_MALAYA, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
17’17”: Audio excerpt from WE.REMAIN.IN.MULTIPLE.MOTIONS_MALAYA, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
19’10”: Audio excerpt from WE.REMAIN.IN.MULTIPLE.MOTIONS_MALAYA, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
32’07”: Audio excerpt from WE.REMAIN.IN.MULTIPLE.MOTIONS_MALAYA, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
In encountering Balinese cultural artifacts brought to European museums during the colonial period and examining the cultural diplomacy politics enacted by the colonizers, she aims to excavate pre-colonial Balinese culture and understand how the perspectives and aesthetic criteria formed under colonial rule persist until today. The artist is interested in developing a critical reading of the journey of colonial legacies into the present and in understanding how they still inform contemporary cultural consciousness.
By providing her with direct access to historical archives and museum collections, the residency will allow Citra to deepen her understanding of the influence of Dutch colonial power onto the development of visual arts and culture in Bali.
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Hoo Fan Chon is a visual artist whose practice explores taste and foodscapes as cultural and social constructs. His research-driven projects examine how value systems fluctuate as people move from one culture to another. Reframing mundane aspects of everyday life with irony and wry humour, his multimedia works address notion of cultural authenticity and they set in motion the frictions and the overlaps produced by the migration of cultural symbols between different sociocultural contexts. Hoo recently received a solo exhibition at The Back Room, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2021) and he has participated in a number of group shows in Asia. Also active as a curator and a grassroot cultural producer, he is involved with Run Amok Gallery, an art gallery and alternative space in George Town he co-founded in 2013.
With a background in literature and physics, Citra Sasmita is a self-taught painter who turned to the visual arts after working as an illustrator at a local newspaper in Bali. By unravelling myths and misconceptions that persist in Balinese culture, her work imagines secular mythologies for a post-patriarchal future. She is deeply invested in the social empowerment of women and in questioning gender hierarchies and normative constructs. Her work is regularly exhibited within Indonesia and has been presented internationally at the Kathmandu Triennale, Nepal (2021–2022); and ParaSite Hong Kong (2020). In 2020, she received for the UOB Museum MACAN Children’s Art Space Commission and she is the Gold Award Winner of the UOB Painting of The Year 2017.
Thinking in terms of borders and boundaries, either physical and symbolic, the artist intends to map out the lived experience of forced mobility and dispossession as well as its underlying power struggles and emotional trails. His research will revolve specifically on migrant songs, a cultural expression often characterized by melancholic melodies and sombre lyrics that speaks of longing, hard work, and perseverance. Conveying the experience of otherness and stirring emotions of communality, migrant songs haunts our times of unprecedented global mass migration and the contemporary debates surrounding exclusionary nationalist politics. Through participatory workshops aimed at lyric writing, music composition, and vocalisation, migrant songs will be created and disseminated in an effort to redraw boundaries of belonging.
In our third episode, we open up this platform for the first time to a guest interviewer. We invited artist and filmmaker Kent Chan to pick the brain of our Artist-in-Residence Yeo Siew Hua. Beyond being both filmmakers and artists, Siew Hua and Kent have been occasional collaborators in the past and, most importantly, they are also long-time friends. Hear them speak candidly about the intertwined cycles of art-making and fund-raising, the blurred line between cinema and visual arts, as well as the philosophical underpinnings and the importance of collaboration in Siew Hua’s practice.
The practice of Yeo Siew Hua (b. 1985, Singapore) spans film directing and screenwriting. His films probe the darkest side of contemporary society through narratives layered with mysterious atmospheres, inscrutable characters, and mythological references, all steeped in arresting visuals and sounds. His last feature film A Land Imagined (2018) harnessed recognition around the world receiving the Golden Leopard at the 71st Locarno Film Festival and the Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Music Score Awards at the 56th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.
After A Land Imagined, Siew Hua has created a number of short films, one of which, An Invocation to the Earth (2020), commissioned by the Singapore International Film Festival and TBA21, was co-produced with NTU CCA Singapore. An Invocation to the Earth can be viewed online at www.stage.tba21.org. During the residency, Siew Hua has been completing his next major production titled The Once and Future, an expanded cinema project which will premiere at the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2022. In 2021, he received the Young Artist Award, Singapore’s highest award for young arts practitioners.
Kent Chan (b. 1984, Singapore) is an artist, curator, and filmmaker currently based in Amsterdam. His practice weaves encounters between art, fiction, and cinema with a particular interest in the tropical imagination, colonialism, and the relation between heat and art. He has held solo presentations at Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands (2020-21), National University Singapore Museum (2019-21) and SCCA-Ljubljana, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Slovenia (2017). He was Artist-in-Residence at Jan van Eyck Academie (2019-20) and at NTU CCA Singapore (2017-2018).
Contributors: Yeo Siew Hua, Kent Chan
Conducted by: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Kristine Tan
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon (The Music Parlour)
Intro & Outro Music: Tini Aliman
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan
06’42”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, A Land Imagined, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
11’46”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Obs: A Singapore Story, 2014. Courtesy the artist.
22’55”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Once and Future, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
40’49”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Lover, The Excess, The Ascetic and the Fool, 2021. Courtesy the artist.
Yeo Siew Hua’s (b. 1985, Singapore) practice spans film directing and screenwriting. His last feature film, A Land Imagined (2018) was awarded the Golden Leopard at the 71st Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland (2019) and selected as Singapore’s entry to the 92nd Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category, United States (2020). Extending beyond conventional cinema festivals and networks, Yeo’s films have also been shown at contemporary art venues including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, United States (2018), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Taipei, Taiwan (both 2018). He is co-founder of 13 Little Pictures, a vanguard film collective which organises experimental film labs around Southeast Asia.
Driven by first-hand experiences of migration and diaspora, the practice of Boedi Widjaja (b. 1975, Indonesia/Singapore) articulates subtle reflections on migration, memory, and spatial relations across a variety of mediums with an emphasis on process and bodily engagement. Recent solo presentations include Boedi Widjaja: Declaration of, Helwaser Gallery, New York, United States (2019) and Boedi Widjaja: Rivers and Lakes Tanah dan air ShanghART, Singapore (2018). His works have been included in international group exhibitions such as Singapore Biennale (2019); Media Art Globale, Jakarta, Indonesia (both 2019), and The 9 Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland, Australia (2018) amongst others.
Over the past five years, Việt Lê has been collecting film footage as well as sociological, historical, and archival materials for his experimental film trilogy Sonic Spiritualties. Interweaving the artist’s interest in popular culture and diaspora studies, the trilogy explores the impact of economic and environmental turbulences on music and various forms of spirituality in Southeast Asia. By framing situations where Buddhism meets pop music and violent displacement is translated into songs, the trilogy envisages sonic environments that challenge the borders of traditional and experimental music, the sacred and the mundane, the sublime and the banal. Halfway between documentary and music video, this hybrid production re-envisages the relationship between music and spiritual practices by working across dance, art history, ethnomusicology, and anthropology. Lê’s residency is dedicated to pursuing follow-up research and post-production editing for the final stages of this project.
Tangled with her own experience of migration, cultural collision, and displacement, the works of Sung Tieu often elicit a variety of sensorial engagements. During the residency, the artist plans to explore the sonic environment of Singapore guided by the following questions: What is the soundscape of a financial capital that trades mostly in abstract exchange rather than in material production? Who occupies public space and in what acoustic proportion? How do aural economies affect the multi-species inhabitants of the city on physical, psychological, and emotional levels? How does sound convey different political and environmental climates? Her investigation on the sounds of contemporary Singapore will also encompass instances of oral communication that operate in a multicultural context characterised by a large linguistic diversity. For this long-term project, Tieu intends to explore the acoustic ecology of several urban soundscapes, extending her research in Vietnam and, possibly, other Southeast Asian countries.
Haegue Yang will shift her attention to researching film histories in Southeast Asia. These film histories within the region intersect with her research on Korean filmmaker Shin Sangok who was kidnapped by North Korean in 1978 and produced 17 films after his prolific career in South Korea. Shin had co-produced films in partnership with the famed Shaw Brothers of Singapore before his abduction. While in residence Haegue Yang will also examine questions of home, destinies and narratives that are interwoven with migratory figures in a colonial history. Her research on the Southeast Asian Diaspora figures extends from an annual commission, Accommodating the Epic Dispersion – On Non-Cathartic Volume of Dispersion (2012) for Haus der Kunst in Munich. The length of this work’s title is deliberate, in response to the overlapping of diaspora history with the specific history of the work’s location — a large and voluminous hall once known as ‘Ehrenhalle’ under the Third Reich. By critically extending and dispersing a reconstruction of histories in an epic dimension, the work introduced issues of migration, diaspora, movement and thereby, colonialism, through questions such as, “is movement mental or physical? When we migrate, do we lose our sense of home? How do we maintain and accommodate our migratory destinies and narratives?”