Ana Sophie Salazar (1990) was Assistant Curator for Exhibitions at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. She graduated with an MA in Curatorial Practice from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and a BA in Piano from the Music School of Lisbon. She investigates the crossing of disciplines and nomadic, poly-lingual, transcultural subjectivities.

Zac Langdon-Pole’s projects often take their point of departure in social structures of representation and organisation in order to question how and for whom such structures are posed. His current research relates specifically to the regions of Southeast Asia and the South West Pacific, and is centred on the mythology and historical cultural exchange of the so called ‘birds of paradise’ from Papua New Guinea. His interest lies in how within procedures of cultural exchange the loss of, or transposing and translating of information can itself be a process of formation. Two ideas that are currently helping to inform his research are Walter Benjamin’s notion of ‘the wish image’ that stands at the intersection of materialism and mythology and Peter Mason’s explanation of the process of ‘exotification’, in his book Infelicities. This is the idea that the exotic is not something that exists prior to its ‘discovery’ but rather is formed in the very act of discovery itself.

In partnership with Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd., Culture City. Culture Scape. is a public art education programme launched in 2017. A first of its kind in Singapore, the programme features a series of newly commissioned public art works by Dan GrahamZul MahmodTomás Saraceno and Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA), nestled at Mapletree Business City II, and aims to bring the arts closer to the communities.

Inspired by the idea of expanded sculptural environments, the artworks explore the interplay between landscape, architecture, and the broader social and economic environments they are placed in. More than being monumental or site-specific, each work alters or permeates its local context to invite visitors to a broader, richer engagement.

Mapletree Business City II Public Art Trail Video Tour

Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, an artist of African descent, was born in London and grew up in Nigeria, returning to London only in his late teens. His work explores issues of colonialism and postcolonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation, as well as race and class. Mixing Western art history and literature, he questions the construct of collective contemporary identity and its meaning within cultural and national definitions. Shonibare has participated in major international art exhibitions, including the 52nd and 57th Venice Biennale and Documenta11. His works are in prominent collections, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome; and VandenBroek Foundation, the Netherlands. In 2004, Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize, the most prestigious annual art prize in United Kingdom, and was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Fifteen years later, in January 2019, Shonibare was awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). That same year, he held a solo exhibition at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE, which featured works connected by their use of Dutch wax fabric and a major installation that celebrates the contributions of immigrant and non-immigrant Africans, The African Library.

Stemming from personal circumstances—due to his father’s employment as commander of the prison tactical unit, the artist grew up in Changi Prison’s quarters —Morton developed a direct, albeit unspoken, intimacy with the tortuous ethical issues and psychological consequences related to the most extreme form of law enforcement. Through researching archival materials, oral histories as well as literature and films from post-independence Singapore, the artist plans to interweave the nightmares and traumas experienced by both the punisher and the punished by steeping the fictional narrative into Malayan myths, folk music, and vernacular architecture.

In this episode of AiRCAST, we venture into the mysterious and mobile mindscape of our Artist-in-Residence, Russell Morton. During the residency, Russell has been deeply immersed in the development of his most ambitious project to date, his first feature film. Find out how a grim, largely forgotten historical event and past personal experiences will contribute to shape the narrative and the ambience of the film. The artist also reveals how he managed to overcome ‘the anxiety of influence’ and expands on his fascination for Southeast Asian folklore, the psychological underpinnings of horror films, and the role music plays in his work.

The filmic and performative practice of Russell Morton (b. 1982, Singapore) explores folkloric myths, esoteric rituals, and the conventions of cinema itself. His film Saudade (2020) was commissioned for State of Motion: Rushes of Time, Asian Film Archives, Singapore, and presented at the 31st Singapore International Film Festival (2020); The Forest of Copper Columns (2015) won the Cinematic Achievement Award at the 57th Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece (2016) and was selected for several festivals including the Short Shorts Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan (2017); the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, Bangkok, Thailand and Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia (both 2016).

Contributor: Russell Morton
Conducted by: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Kristine Tan
Sound Engineer: Rudi Osman 
Intro & Outro Music: Tini Aliman
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan

11:53: Audio excerpt from Island of Hope, National Archives Website, Record date 1960s,
21:35: Recording from Russell Morton’s site visit to a kelong in Singapore. Courtesy the artist.
25:48: Audio excerpt from Russell Morton’s Saudade, 2020. Music by Syafii Ghazali. Courtesy the artist
35:20: Audio excerpt from Tani Yutaka, Marai no Tora, 1943]
36:58: Audio excerpt from “Siapa Dia” by Zainab Majid,]

[See Full Transcript]

Akiko Fukai (September 10, 1943) is a Japanese curator of fashion and textile arts. She received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in fashion history from National University of Ochanomizu and studied at Paris-Sorbonne University. Currently, Fukai is the Director and Chief Curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute.

Apolonija Šušteršič, an architect and visual artist, is a former Visiting Researher at NTU CCA Singapore. Her work is related to a critical analysis of space, usually focused at the processes and relationships between institutions, cultural politics, urban planning, and architecture. Šušteršič broad-ranging interest starts at a phenomenological study of space and continutes its investigation into the social and political nature of our living environment. Together with architect and researcher Meike Schalk, she formed an operative unit, which occasionally produces research, projects, actions, and discussions. Šušteršič is currently Professor of Art & Public Space, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway and has her own art / architecture studio practice in Lund, Sweden and in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Reseach Focus

Contemporary art/ activist practices and current urban struggles over the provision of green spaces in large cities

Azra Akšamija is a Sarajevo born artist and architectural historian. She is the Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Art, Culture and Technology Programme. In her multi-disciplinary work, Akšamija investigates the politics of identity and memory on the scale of the body (clothing and wearable technologies), on the civic scale (religious architecture and cultural institutions), and within the context of history and global cultural flows.

Akšamija was trained in architecture at the Technical University Graz, Austria (Dipl.Ing. in 2001) and Princeton University (M.Arch. in 2004), and received her PhD in History of Islamic Art and Architecture from MIT (History Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture / Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture) in 2011.

Akšamija’s work has been published and exhibited in leading international venues such as at the Generali Foundation Vienna, Valencia Biennial, Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, Liverpool Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Sculpture Center New York, Secession Vienna, Manifesta 7, Stroom The Hague, the Royal Academy of Arts London, Jewish Museum Berlin, Queens Museum of Art in New York, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice.

Research Focus

Azra Akšamija’s projects explore the potency of art and architecture to facilitate the process of transformative conflict mediation though cultural pedagogy, and in so doing, provide a framework for analysing and intervening in contested socio-political realities. Her recent work focuses on the representation of Islam in the West, architectural forms of nationalism in the Balkans since the 1990s, and the role of cultural institutions and heritage in constructing common good in divided societies. Akšamija investigates the role of cultural and religious identity in conflicts, especially in the recent history of the Yugoslavian war and its aftermath.

As a writer, curator, and lecturer based in London with professional interests in contemporary visual arts development, gallery management, museums, and public art, Piers Masterson has curated and commissioned numerous exhibitions and projects by artists including Sinta Tantra, Chila Burman, Suki Chan, Mona Hatoum, Faisal Abdu’Allah, and Isaac Julien, and has been closely working with the British Museum’s Raffles Collection.

Research Focus

In addition to publishing of History of Java (1817), Raffles curated displays of objects and pictures from Southeast Asia in his London homes. Through these displays, Raffles promoted several archetypes for colonial fantasies of Southeast Asia that were recirculated through the 20th century. During the fellowship, Masterson will examine the ways in which contemporary Singaporean artists appropriate and re-contextualise these images of the tropics for their specific aims.

Kelly Reedy has worked in Singapore for over 18 years as an artist and educator. She holds a BFA in Fine Art (University of Wisconsin, 1985), MA in Education (Hunter College, 1991), MA in Art Therapy (LASALLE College of the Arts, 2017). She has exhibited her artworks internationally in Paris, Chicago, and Berlin, as well as locally at Jendela Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, and Alliance Fran.aise. Reedy has developed educational resources for the National Gallery Singapore and trained teachers at the National Institute of Education, specialising in visual arts education in museums and galleries.