Against Singapore’s persistent acceleration towards the future through redevelopment and modernisation, the artist is interested in the way certain memories are kept while others are discarded. From her point of view, “the past is more than objects waiting to be discovered; it is a series of perspectives waiting to be unearthed”. Investigating the present with the tools of archaeology, she plans to explore the physical sediments of contemporary life through a series of participatory sessions aimed at making, archiving, and combining fragments of the present into new scenarios, perspectives, and meanings.
In this episode, curator Samantha Yap digs deep into the practice of Artist-in-Residence Fazleen Karlan. We are happy to bring the two of them back together, after they first collaborated a couple of year ago on an exhibition titled Time Passes (2020-21), to talk about Fazleen’s evolving artistic sensibility and sources of inspiration.
In this circular conversation that revolves around a shared reading, the novel Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson, Fazleen and Samantha exchange memories, experiences, and thoughts about time, materiality, pop culture, and the vitality of archaeology in Fazleen’s work. And they do so with that special kind of fluid intimacy that interlaces persons of the same age. Just a few words to introduce them.
The practice of Fazleen Karlan weaves together art-making and archaeology to explore matters of time by mapping and reframing physical remains found within the landscape and socio-historical context of Singapore. By engaging the stratifications of a site and by reassessing the chronology of everyday objects through the tools of archaeology, her work generates news records of contemporary life that cast the relation between past, present, and future into a speculative framework.
Shuffling between writing and curation, Samantha Yap nurtures her interests in forms of reciprocity, the ethics of care, love, vulnerability as well as an ongoing exploration of feminist perspectives across literature and visual culture. She has curated a number of exhibitions in Singapore, including Time Passes, National Gallery Singapore (2020) which marked her first collaboration with Fazleen Karlan. Her curatorial texts are featured in several exhibition catalogues and her creative writing is included in My Lot is a Sky (Math Paper Press, 2018), an anthology of poetry by Asian women. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Art History from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.
Contributors: Fazleen Karlan, Samantha Yap
Editor: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Nadia Amalina
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon
Intro & Outro Music: Yuen Chee Wai
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan