NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and the European Union Delegation to Singapore are pleased to present the exhibition Hoo Fan Chon, Citra Sasmita, Vuth Lyno: New Works. The exhibition marks the culmination of the first cycle of SEA AiR—Studio Residencies for Southeast Asian Artists in the European Union (SEA AiR). As participating artists in the inaugural cycle of SEA AiR, Hoo Fan Chon (Malaysia), Citra Sasmita (Indonesia), and Vuth Lyno (Cambodia) have each been awarded a three-month-long residency at an art institution in Europe as well as funding for the creation of artworks.
In the first half of 2022, amidst unrelenting surges of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the artists took off from their home countries to conduct three-month-long residencies: Hoo Fan Chon at HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme (Finland); Citra Sasmita at WIELS (Brussels, Belgium); and Vuth Lyno at Villa Arson (Nice, France). The artworks featured in the exhibition Hoo Fan Chon, Citra Sasmita, Vuth Lyno: New Works have been created by the artists in the months following their residencies, a much-needed time for critical reflection and material experimentation that allowed them to develop their research findings and creative inspiration into full-fledged artworks. Ranging from installation and video to sculpture and painting, some of these works also mark these artists’ first attempts at embracing new mediums and materials: 3D animation techniques for Hoo Fan Chon, video for Citra Sasmita, and paper for Vuth Lyno. Most importantly, they bear witness to how the artists’ interests in the cosmetics of food, cultural contaminations, decolonial practices, the empowerment of women, and the resilience of marginalised communities, have evolved over the last year.
In residence at HIAP—Helsinki International Artist Programme (Finland) from late February to late May, Hoo Fan Chon soon became fascinated by the salmon pink hue that adorns the facades of many buildings across Finland and its neighbouring countries. This chromatic cue tied in with the artist’s ongoing interest in issues of taste, class, and fish culture—the son of a fisherman, fish-based imagery and foodscapes are often the subject of his work. Hoo Fan Chon’s erratic investigation, imbued with a distinctive sense of irony, around the cosmetic processing of farmed salmon and the social status of salmon consumption as a signifier of class and wealth in Chinese culture resulted in a multimedia installation. How to turn your siakap into salmon is a video work, inspired by tutorials commonly found on YouTube, that illustrates DIY techniques to colour affordable fish in order to simulate a salmon-eating experience. The artist’s first experiment with 3D animation, the installation I have never seen a swimming salmon in my life projects swimming salmon cuts onto an aquarium with a voiceover about the plights that threaten the survival of salmons. Finnish landscape painting series is a series of painterly interventions on found paintings where Chinese blessings and images of the proverbial “carp leaping over the dragon’s gate” are inscribed onto landscape paintings that the artist sourced from thrift shops around Helsinki.
The artistic practice of Citra Sasmita revisits ancient Balinese mythologies and retools traditional artistic techniques and materials to address misconceptions that persist in contemporary society, especially with regard to the status of women. The residency at WIELS (Brussels, Belgium) from April to June enabled her to encounter and research the legacy of her ancestors held in European museum collections built during the colonial era by often dubious and unethical means. The installation Timur Merah Project VIII: Pilgrim, How You Journey revolves around the figure of I Dewa Agung Istri Kanya, a queen of the Klungkung kingdom in Bali, who fiercely opposed the Dutch colonisers in the 19th century. Ruled out from most historical accounts, the history of this charismatic woman leader is revived in Citra’s powerful imagery and interspersed with scenes from the Bhima Swarga epic depicting the hero’s journey between Heaven and Hell. Painted on traditional Kamasan canvases, the paintings are mounted on antique pillars arranged in an eight-pointed star configuration that references ancient Balinese cosmologies. The installation also comprises a double-channel video, the artist’s first video work, in which a singer performs the poem Prelambang Bhasa Wewatekan (The Coded Language of Symbols), written by the Queen herself. Underneath the tantric symbolism of the poem secretly lurk the Queen’s memoir, anti-Dutch propaganda messages, and military strategies.
Pursuing intersecting interests in architecture, the politics of space, and place-making practices, during the residency at Villa Arson (Nice, France) from March to May, Vuth Lyno had the opportunity to travel several times to the French capital and research the architectural remnants of the 1931 International Colonial Exposition which took place in the Bois de Vincennes, a forest park in Eastern Paris. He discovered that the former Cameroon Pavilion was turned into a Buddhist temple in the late 1970s. Following its conversion into a place of worship, the building and the surrounding greenery have come to play an important role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of the Cambodian community in France. A migrant community’s appropriation of a site previously used to display colonial (mis)representations of those very communities led the artist to develop a broader reflection on the role of urban parks as sites of refuge wherein minorities and marginalised groups (sex workers, queer communities, the homeless, etc.) can find emancipation and enact their agency. The resulting installation Vibrating Park-Forest ensues from a comparative study of heterogenous uses and grassroots practices that unfold in specific parks in Paris, Phnom Penh, and Singapore. Vibrating Park-Forest is the artist’s first installation made of paper, a material he began to experiment with during his residency at Villa Arson.
The exhibition is curated by Dr Anna Lovecchio, Assistant Director (Programmes), and NTU CCA Singapore. The project leader of SEA AiR is Ute Meta Bauer Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University.
SEA AiR—Studio Residencies for Southeast Asian Artists in the European Union is funded by the European Union.
Download the exhibition guide here.
Official Opening in the presence of H.E. Iwona Piórko, EU Ambassador to Singapore and the artists
10 January 2023, 4.00 – 5.00pm
Public preview: 4.00 – 7.00pm
Artist talk by Hoo Fan Chon, Citra Sasmita, and Vuth Lyno
11 January 2023, 6.00 – 7.30pm
11 January – 5 February 2023
Tue to Sun: 12.00 – 7.00pm
13 January: 12.00 – 9.00pm
Open on public holidays (except Mondays)
NTU CCA Singapore Residencies Studios
Blocks 38 Malan Road