The time and space of the residency are being used by Ho Tzu Nyen to map out his current and forthcoming projects for the next three years as well as their conceptual and aesthetic kinships. Other than further iterations of his growing multi-part work The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia (2014-ongoing), the artist is currently engaged in a series of works that probe Asia’s political histories and spiritual thought systems. Specifically, he is interested in the histories of revolt and subversion sited at both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ end of the political spectrum, paying attention to figures, moments, and movements that eschew classification under an obsolete scheme of polarized opposition. At the same time, he is also intent on speculating about the relevance these questions will carry in 50 years’ time when our existing epistemological frameworks will be drastically altered by accelerated technological transformations, geopolitical shifts, and ecological crises at a planetary level.

Artist Resource Platform: activate! is an ongoing project that engages with and expands upon the Artist Resource Platform, a growing collection of visual and audio materials from over 90 artists and independent art spaces. The series will negotiate with the limitations of an archive by initiating conversations and experimentations, offering the audience multiple access points to the resource materials and the artists’ practices.

This edition of Artist Resource Platform: activate! will feature three curators based in Singapore, providing a conceptual framework to understand their practices and how they are situated within the local and international contemporary art scene.

Public Programme

Artist Resource Platform: activate! I with Sidd Perez (The Philippines/Singapore), Assistant Curator, NUS Museum Wednesday, 18 May, 7.30 – 9.00pm

Artist Resource Platform: activate! II with Selene Yap (Singapore), Programme Manager (Visual Arts), The Substation Friday, 27 May, 7.30 – 9.00pm

Artist Resource Platform: activate! III with Melanie Pocock (United Kingdom/Singapore), Assistant Curator, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts Friday, 10 June, 7.30 – 9.00pm

Artist Resource Platform: activate! III with Melanie Pocock (United Kingdom/Singapore), Assistant Curator, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts Friday, 10 June, 7.30 – 9.00pm
Artist Resource Platform: activate! II with Selene Yap (Singapore), Programme Manager (Visual Arts), The Substation Friday, 27 May, 7.30 – 9.00pm
Artist Resource Platform: activate! I with Sidd Perez (The Philippines/Singapore), Assistant Curator, NUS Museum Wednesday, 18 May, 7.30 – 9.00pm

Unfolding over four weeks, the NTU CCA Singapore presents Four Practices, a display of resource material of current Artists-in-Residence. Showcasing publications, audio and visual documentation, Four Practices provides an entry point in understanding the artists’ diverse body of works and the complexity of their practices.

Four Practices complements and expands on NTU CCA Singapore’s Artist Resource Platform, a growing collection of resource materials from more than 80 local and international artists, independent art spaces and NTU CCA Singapore’s Artists-in-Residence.

Unfolding over two months, Artists-in-Residence Li Ran and Gary Ross Pastrana will develop projects for The Lab, NTU CCA Singapore’s space for experimentation, which are speculations on how an image is created and deconstructed.

Gary Ross Pastrana’s An ASEAN Exhibition 1 creates an artistic gesture around the idea of Southeast Asia as a reference with no visual referent. The artist engaged DSM Solutions, a young Singaporean creative collective, to stage a “Contemporary Southeast Asia Art Exhibition-Themed Event” and prototype props that could stand in for Southeast Asian artworks. In this manner, the artist has effectively outsourced the sometimes-problematic task of representing Southeast Asia, an implied obligation of artists invited to regionally themed group exhibitions within the region.

Li Ran presents a new project Waiting for the Fog to Drift Away, a collaboration with Singapore Management University (SMU), Assistant Professor Rowan Wang, a specialist in overall planning science. Li Ran will conduct interviews to gain planning advice from Wang in an attempt to define the most successful trajectory for the life of an artist as a business enterprise, estimating production levels and peaks and troughs in key life moments.

The exhibition China. The Arts – The People, Photographs and Films from the 1980s and 1990s by acclaimed filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger (b. 1942 in Constance, Germany) is the first large-scale exhibition by the award-winning filmmaker and artist in Asia. The selection of works focuses on Ottinger’s research and travels in China and Mongolia during the 1980s and 1990s, comprising four films and more than one hundred photographs. The photographs, created largely in parallel with the production of her films, will be unfolded along the artist’s leitmotifs.

Starting with China. The Arts – The People (1985), the exhibition leads a journey through the cultures and geographies of China, while also exploring the relationship between moving image and still life. The three acts of the documentary are presented on a three-screen installation, documenting everyday life in Beijing (February 1985), Sichuan Province (March 1985), and Yunnan Province (March 1985). While meeting the film director Ling Zifeng in one chapter, a Bamboo factory is visited in another, and in parallel the Sani people, a minority group, show their habitat, the Stone Forest.

Taiga. A Journey to Northern Mongolia (1992), a documentary over eight hours long that will be presented on multiple monitors throughout the exhibition space, looks into the everyday life of nomadic peoples in Mongolia. Furthermore, on view in the cinematic space of the Centre, The Single Screen, will be Exile Shanghai (1997), a film telling the six life stories of German, Austrian, and Russian Jews intersecting in Shanghai after their escape from Nazi Germany, as well as Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (1989), Ottinger’s only feature fiction film presenting a cast starring Badema, Lydia Billiet, Inés Sastre, and Delphine Seyrig.

From 1962 to 1968, Ulrike Ottinger was living as an independent artist in Paris, where at the University of Paris-Sorbonne she attended lectures on ethnography and religion of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, and Pierre Bourdieu. Over the decades, she has created an extensive image archive, including films, photographs of her own as well as collections of postcards, magazine illustrations, and other iconographic documents from times and places worldwide. Driven by her curiosity for people and places, the artist’s images alternate between documentary insight and theatrical extravagance, presenting encounters with everyday realities at the intersection of the contemporary, the traditional, and the ritual.

The extraordinary filmic and photographic oeuvre from China and Mongolia of the 1980s and 1990s prove her outstanding practice and beyond. Fighting for permission to travel and film in communist China, Ottinger’s interest in Asia also broke with the Cold War stereotype of that time. Her inimitable universe of provinces and regions of China is filled with rich imagery of various provinces in China and nomadic societies in Northern Mongolia and their history, paying attention to the presence of local details and reaching far beyond its described territory.

The exhibition is accompanied by an intensive public programme, starting with a Behind the Scenes discussion with the artist on her practice as photographer and filmmaker. The programmed talks and screenings will reflect on the notion of the documentary, the intersection of documentary and fiction, and the potential that artistic production can have for anthropology, cultural studies, and history.

Initially a painter, Ottinger came to filmmaking in the early 1970s. She furthermore produced operas, several theatre plays, and radio dramas. Her films have received numerous awards and have been shown at the world’s most important film festivals, as well as appreciated in multiple retrospectives, including Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival (2013), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010), Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2004), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2000), and Cinémathèque française, Paris (1982). Her work has been featured in major international exhibitions such as Documenta (2017, 2002), Gwangju Biennale (2014), Berlin Biennale (2010, 2004), and Shanghai Biennale (2008). Recent solo shows include, among others, Johanna Breede Photokunst, Berlin (2015, 2013), Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2012), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2011), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2011), and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2004). Major monographs include Ulrike Ottinger: World Images (2013), Ulrike Ottinger (2012), Ulrike Ottinger: N.B.K. Ausstellungen Band 11 (2011), Floating Food (2011), and Image Archive (2005). In 2011, she was awarded the Hannah Höch Prize for her creative work, and in 2010 honoured with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Ulrike Ottinger: China. The Arts ­– The People, Photographs and Films from the 1980s and 1990s is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Exhibitions, Residencies and Public Programmes.

Ulrike Ottinger: China. The Arts ­– The People, Photographs and Films from the 1980s and 1990s public programmes

Non-Aligned in the press! Read Stephanie Bailey’s article in Ocula and Object Lessons Space‘s interview with Dr Karin Oen, the Centre’s Deputy Director of Curatorial Programmes.

The Unfinished Conversation (2012), John Akomfrah (United Kingdom), Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh/United States), Nucleus of the Great Union (2017), The Otolith Group (United Kingdom)

The British Empire spanned from Asia to Australia to Africa to America to the Caribbean. The various colonial territories gained their sovereignty and independence at different times, in processes of decolonization that played out in the histories of nations, but also determined the lives of individuals. Non-Aligned brings together three moving-image works by artists, filmmakers, and writers that inquire into the challenging transition periods from colonial rule to the independence of nations.

The presented works apply archival material in different ways. The focus spans from the work and personal histories of intellectuals who experienced these unprecedented circumstances first-hand, including Jamaican-born British theorist Stuart Hall (1932-2014) and African American novelist Richard Wright (1908-1960), to the history of political organization around the Non-Aligned Movement. This process of examining the interconnected stories of place, identity, and the conscious assertion of difference from established Western narratives, is also embedded in the personal histories of the artists.

The Non-Aligned Movement was formally established in 1961 on principles such as world peace and cooperation, human rights, anti-racism, respect, disarmament, non-aggression, and justice. At the height of the Cold War, a large group of African, Asian, and Latin American countries navigating post-colonial constellations attempted a diversion from the two major powers—the United States and the Soviet Union—forming what is to date the largest grouping of states worldwide, after the United Nations. The non-aligned nations, which Singapore joined in 1970, wished to secure independence and territorial sovereignty, and fight against imperialism, domination, and foreign interference.

This history is at the core of Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), a feature-length three-channel video installation by Naeem Mohaiemen. It explores Bangladesh’s historical pivot from the socialist perspective of the 1973 Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Algeria to the emergence of a petrodollar-funded Islamic perspective at the 1974 Organisation of Islamic Countries meeting in Lahore. Recounted by Algerian publisher Samia Zennadi, Bangladeshi politician Zonayed Saki, and Indian historian Vijay Prashad, Mohaiemen’s film considers the erosion of the idea of “Third World” as a political space that was to open the potential for decoloniality and socialism, while articulating the internal contradictions behind its unfortunate failure.

In the video essay Nucleus of the Great Union (2017), The Otolith Group traces Richard Wright on his first trip to Africa in 1953. Travelling the Gold Coast for 10 weeks, he witnessed political campaigns for independence in West Africa, yet feeling alienation at his first encounter with the continent. For this film, The Otolith Group reconciled excerpts from Wright’s book Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos (1954) with a selection of the over 1,500 previously unpublished photographs the writer took on his journey. Wright’s initially intended book including both text and photos was inadequately published without images. Through this work, The Otolith Group finally honors Wright’s initial aim of seeing image and text as one single narration.

The Unfinished Conversation (2012) is an in-depth inquiry by filmmaker John Akomfrah into the personal archive of audio interviews and television recordings of the influential theorist and educator Stuart Hall. The multi-screen film installation unfolds as a layered journey through the paradigm-changing work of the late intellectual, regarded as a key founder of cultural studies, who triangulated gender, race, and class. Hall was particularly invested in black identity linked to the history of colonialism and slavery.

Amplifying and celebrating defining voices and intertwining personal lives with political movements, the featured works in Non-Aligned examine not only the new possibilities for progressive social and independence movements but also the inherent struggles that define the post-WWII period.

Non-Aligned is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU.

This programme features films that engage post-colonial processes covering different moments and geopolitical contexts. The Asian-African Conference in 1955, known as the Bandung Conference, amidst the complex processes of decolonization, established self-determination, non-aggression, and equality as part of the core values that then formed the Non-Aligned Movement. This history is unpacked and contextualised through this series of screenings.

Co-curated by writer and curator Mark Nash and film researcher Vladimir Seput.

Accompanying this exhibition is a library of over 50 books on postcolonialism, decoloniality, the history of the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement, archiving, as well as theory of the moving image and publications on and by John Akomfrah, Naeem Mohaiemen, and The Otolith Group. Authors include Frantz Fanon, Stuart Hall, and Richard Wright, as well as Kodwo Eshun, Rosalind C. Morris, Bojana Piškur and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, among many others.

In light of COVID-19, we have removed the reading corner for the safety of our visitors.

We have selected texts on, or in conversation with, some of them to be used for online reading groups. These additional texts including articles by Vijay Prashad and Elspeth Probyn, and book chapters by Adil Johan and S.R. Joey Long.

Designed for young audiences aged 13 and above, the Non-Aligned activity cards explore several core themes of the exhibition through thoughtful reflection questions and engaging activities. While the Centre strongly encourages audiences to experience the artworks in person, the cards may also be used independently at home or in the classroom.

No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia is part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative which was launched in April 2012, a multi-year collaboration that charts contemporary art practice in three geographic regions—South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa—and encompasses curatorial residencies, international touring exhibitions, audience-driven education programming, and acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.

Curated by June Yap, No Country at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore brought the artworks back to the Southeast Asia region from which many of the artists hail and called for an even closer examination of regional cultural representations and relations. This return suggests the possibility of a renewed understanding through a process of mutual rediscovery that transcends physical and political borders. The exhibition in Singapore also marked the debut of two works from the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund not previously shown as part of No Country: Loss by Sheela Gowda and Morning Glory by Sopheap Pich.

No country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia

Ade Darmawan lives and works in Jakarta as an artist, curator, and director of the artist collective ruangrupa. He studied at the Graphic Art Department at the Indonesia Art Institute, and was a resident at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (1998–2000). He works with installation, objects, drawing, digital print, and video. Recently he has had solo exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2016) and Portikus, Frankfurt (2015). Darmawan participated in the Gwangju and Singapore Biennales (both 2016), and was a curatorial collaborator in Condition Report (2017); Media Art Kitchen (2013); and Riverscape in-flux (2012). ruangrupa, an artist collective co-founded in 2000 with five other artists in Jakarta, focuses on visual arts and its relation with the social cultural context, particularly in urban environments. The collective has exhibited at the São Paulo Biennale (2014); Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane (2012); Istanbul Biennale (2005); and Gwangju Biennale (2002), among others. They were also curators of the 2016 Sonsbeek International. Darmawan was a member of the Jakarta Arts Council (2006–09) and became the Artistic Director of the Jakarta Biennale in 2009. Since 2013, he is executive director of the Jakarta Biennale.

Professor Aihwa Ong is Professor of Socio-Cultural Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies, Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology and Chair of Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). Her research interests include governance and citizenship, Asian cities, cosmopolitan science and contemporary Asian art. Professor Ong has authored the publications Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia (1987); Flexible Citizenship: the Cultural Logics of Transnationality (1999); Buddha is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (2003) and Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (2006). Among the publications she co-edited are Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics and Ethics as Anthropological Problems (2005); Privatizing China, Socialism from Afar (2008); Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate (2010) and Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments with the Art of Being Global (2011). Professor Ong has given numerous lectures internationally and she has been invited to the World Economic Forum. Her forthcoming book draws on research in Biopolis, Singapore: Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life (Duke University Press, 2016).

Dr Wee Beng Geok is a consultant of the Nanyang Business School,Nanyang Technological University (NTU) where she was Associate Professor from 1999 to 2014. In 2000, she set up the Asian Business Case Centre at the Nanyang Business School, and was its Director until 2014. Dr Wee has written and published many business case studies and several casebooks, including a series of case studies on the maritime industries in Singapore. Her career in Singapore’s corporate sector spanned two decades of which more than half were in the maritime sector. Dr Wee’s current research interests include the history of maritime businesses and industries in Singapore.