Shifting between individual and communal dimensions, performed in public and private spaces, rest is a powerful counterpoint to the sprawling sense of exhaustion induced by the unrelenting emphasis on work, production, and consumption that prevails in contemporary society. Continuing this ongoing investigation, during the residency the artist will conduct interviews, archival research, and fieldwork to understand notions, practices, and postures of rest in different cultural, historical, and socio-political contexts across Singapore and Southeast Asia focusing specifically on the manifestations of “rest in public spaces”. Through potential collaborations with movement and sound artists, she aims to gradually develop an artistic and performative vocabulary of rest that maps out its personal, political, cultural, and economic meanings.

For our fifth episode of AiRCAST, we entrusted curator and scholar Hsu Fang-Tze to pick the mind of our Artist-in-Residence Han Xuemei. In this insightful exchange, In their insightful exchange, Xuemei discusses how her urgency for engagement steers her fluid theatre practice towards experimenting with different modes of audience participation. As she shares about her current efforts to carve out “intervals of quiet” and “plots of rest” in the hectic context of Singapore, you will also discover that the research on the topic of “rest as resistance” she conducted throughout her residency at NTU CCA Singapore grows out from another residency she did in Taipei a few years ago.

Committed to socially engaged practices, multi-disciplinary theatre practitioner Han Xuemei (b. 1987, Singapore) employs art as a tool for bringing communities together and engaging the audience in visceral and personal ways. In her practice, she creates spaces and experiences that incite participants to think outside the box of existing paradigms and articulate forms of hope and resistance. Since 2012, she is Resident Artist at the Singapore-based theatre company Drama Box. In 2021 she received Young Artist Award, Singapore’s highest award for young arts practitioners.

Hsu Fang-Tze is a lecturer at the Communications and New Media Department, National University of Singapore where she is also a coordinator of the M.A. in Arts and Cultural Entrepreneurship. Her research interests include the formation of audiovisual modernity in Asia, Cold War aesthetics, philosophies of sonic technology, and the embodiment of artistic praxis in everyday life. Apart from her academic work, she is also active as a curator and has curated exhibitions such as Art Histories of a Forever War: Modernism between Space and Home at the Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taiwan (2021-2022) and Wishful Images at National University of Singapore Museum (2020). 

Contributors: Han Xuemei, Hsu Fang-Tze
Editor: 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

CREDITS
12’38”: Audio excerpt from MISSING: The City of Lost Things, 2018. Courtesy Drama Box.
15’07”: Audio excerpt from MISSING: The City of Lost Things, 2018. Courtesy Drama Box.
19’15”: Audio excerpt from FLOWERS, 2019. Courtesy Drama Box.
21’00”: Audio excerpt from FLOWERS, 2019. Courtesy Drama Box. 
26’24”: Audio excerpt from Taipei Main Station & Research Field Recording workshop part of Asia Discovers Asia Meeting For Contemporary Performance Artist Lab, 2019. Courtesy the artist. 
35’30’’: Audio excerpt from Han Xuemei, field recordings at Tanah Merah, January 2022. Courtesy the artist.

[See Full Transcript]

Committed to socially engaged practices, multi-disciplinary theatre practitioner Han Xuemei (b. 1987, Singapore) employs art as a tool for bringing communities together and engaging the audience in visceral and personal ways. In her practice, she creates spaces and experiences that incite participants to think outside the box of existing paradigms and articulate forms of hope and resistance. Since 2012, she is Resident Artist at the Singapore-based theatre company Drama Box. Her recent projects include the experiential installation FLOWERS (2019), the community project The Gift (2018), and the participatory experience Missing: The City of Lost Things (2018).

Yang Fudong was born in 1971 in Beijing and now lives and works in Shanghai. Working primarily in photography and film, Yang’s works are filled with psychological and existential questions. Yang’s work has been shown at many international exhibitions including: Documenta XI, Germany, 2002; the Shanghai Biennale, China, 2002; the Carnegie International, United States, 2005; the Asia Pacific Triennial, Australia, 2006; and the Venice Biennale, 2007.

Eva Meyer is a writer and filmmaker based in Berlin. She is the author of various works of cinematic thinking including What Does the Veil Know? (ed. in collaboration with Vivian Liska, 2009), Frei und indirekt (2010), Zählen und Erzählen. Für eine Semiotik des Weiblichen (1983, reprint 2013). She has taught at various universities and art schools in Europe and the United States, and currently is a faculty member at the Zurich University of the Arts. Since 1997 she has collaborated with the filmmaker Eran Schaerf, focusing on documentary fiction.

Theatrical Fields introduces theatricality as a critical strategy in performance, film and video. This exhibition presents six video installations shown for the first time in Southeast Asia: Voice off by Judith Barry (USA), Suspiria by Stan Douglas (Canada), Lines in the Sand by Joan Jonas (USA), Vagabondia by Isaac Julien (UK), She Might Belong to You by Eva Meyer & Eran Schaerf (Germany / Israel), X Characters Re(hers)AL by Constanze Ruhm (Austria). Situated in juxtaposition, the works generate temporal spaces for experimental action, creating unfamiliar proximities and encounters.

Theatrical Fields was curated by Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director) with Anca Rujoiu (Curator for Exhibitions), and was first presented and commissioned by the Bildmuseet, Umea in Sweden (2013).

As a collaboration, Bildmuseet Umea and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore will publish a catalogue including keynotes from the symposium and additional commissioned essays.

Theatrical Fields public programmes

Yang Fudong, a leading international figure of contemporary art and one the most important artists to emerge out of China in the 1990s, staged his first major solo exhibition in Southeast Asia at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. The exhibition, Incidental Scripts, presented a selection of four works by Yang: An Estranged Paradise (1997-2002), The Fifth Night (II) Rehearsal (2010), On the Double Dragon Hills (2012) and About the Unknown Girl – Ma Sise (2013-2014). These works are emblematic of his multi-faceted approach towards the creation of visual imageries that complicates our understanding of reality / fiction, and our experience of space / time.

The exhibition was curated by Ute Meta Bauer (NTU CCA Singapore Founding Director) with Khim Ong (Independent Curator).

Yang Fudong: Incidental Scripts public programmes

NTU CCA Singapore’s first publication, this reader stages conversations between theatre and visual arts, theoretical discourse and artistic practice juxtaposing artists and theoreticians who share a communal interest in theatricality as a critical strategy to address questions of ideology, gender, power relations. The reader includes writings by Antonin Artaud, Mikhail Bakhtin, Ute Meta Bauer, Bertolt Brecht, Giuliana Bruno, Jacques Derrida, Regis Durand, Josette Féral, Jean-François Lyotard, Eva Meyer, Timothy Murray, Katharina Sykora, and Marina Warner, documentation of the exhibition Theatrical Fields, Bildmuseet, Umea (2013) and NTU CCA Singapore (2014) presenting the works of Judith Barry, Marcel Dzama, Stan Douglas, Marie-Louise Ekman, Eva Meyer and Eran Schaerf, Isaac Julien, Joan Jonas, Constanze Ruhm, and Ulrike Ottinger.

Theatrical Fields: Critical Strategies in Performance, Film, and Video
Published by König Books
© 2016
ISBN: 978-981-11-0362-9 · 978-9-81110-362-9

To purchase your copy, please contact ntuccapublications@ntu.edu.sg

Bertolt Brecht was a German poet and playwright. He lived in exile for much of his life—first in Scandinavia and later in the United States, only to return to Berlin and found his own theater company, the Berliner Ensemble. His plays, the best known of which include The Three-penny Opera (1928) and Mother Courage and Her Children (1941), are the foundations of epic theater. This concept radically departed from theater conventions of the time and pushed forward a political theater that embodies revolutionary aims and contributes to social change. His ideas of a self-conscious and actively engaged spectator—a form of theater that addresses the immediate political and cultural circumstances—had a wide influence upon theater and the arts at large.

Bildmuseet is a contemporary art museum in Umeå, northern Sweden.

Giuliana Bruno is a professor in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. She is internationally known for her research on the intersections of the visual arts, architecture, film, and media. Her seminal body of work Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film (2002) is an intellectual journey into cinematic spaces, providing new directions for visual studies. In her latest book, Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media (2014), she revisits the concept of materiality in the contemporary world. She has contributed to numerous monographs on contemporary artists, including Isaac Julien’s Riot (2014), The Imaginary Landscapes of Jesper Just (2013), Chantal Akerman’s Too Far, Too Close (2012), and Jane and Louise Wilson: A Free and Anonymous Monument (2004), among others. She was a contributing writer for NTU CCA Singapore publication Theatrical Fields: Critical Strategies in Performance, Film, and Video.