Since 2013, Zhao has been collecting old photographs of Singapore, focusing specifically on images that capture the city’s landscape and elements related to her natural history. The project for his residency, provisionally titled The Museum of Disappearance, sets out to unravel the dormant narratives embedded in the photographs in order to shed a different light onto the complex history of our relationship with nature. Further expanding on his interest in the interaction between humans and the natural environment, he plans to conduct extensive fieldwork in the backwoods behind his studio, a patch of secondary forest stretching from Malan Road to Henderson Road, documenting its trees and natural habitat.

Marianna Simnett (b.1986, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. Her interdisciplinary practice includes video, installation, performance, sculpture and watercolour. Simnett uses vivid and visceral means to explore the body as a site of transformation. Working with animals, children, organs, and often performing herself, she imagines radical new worlds filled with untamed thoughts, strange tales, and desires. Simnett has shown in major museums internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include LAB RATS, Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland (2019), My Broken Animal, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands (2019), CREATURE, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2019), Blood In My Milk, New Museum, New York, United States (2018) among others. She is a joint winner of the Paul Hamlyn Award 2020, received the Jerwood / FVU Award in 2015, and was shortlisted for the Jarman Award in 2017.

The artist was scheduled to be in-residence from July ‚ Sept 2020. Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and international travel restrictions, the artist was unable to participate in the residency programme physically.

During the residency Chong will develop The Economy of Birds (and Maximum Standard of Living), a research-based project that looks at how contemporary societies in Southeast Asia determine the minimum standard of living. The artist investigates the notion of “human dwelling” through a comparison between the human and the animal world by drawing a parallel between the practice of farming swiftlet birdhouses for sale and consumption and the typology of the metropolitan apartment block. In the artist’s vision, a comparative analysis of airflows, relative humidity, air temperature distribution, and light intensity that characterize the farming of edible bird’s nests and the technical requirements that make a human dwelling comfortable and efficient, is instrumental to rethink the guidelines for socially acceptable living environments as well as their implications in terms of economics and human rights.

This audio publishing project is conceived as a continuation and circulation of Tomás Saraceno’s eponymous exhibition at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore in 2015. Exploring the arachnids’s sophisticated mode of communication through vibrations, Saraceno developed several instruments that were able to amplify the vibrations of spiders, rendering them audible to other species. Various instruments, ranging from strings to percussion, were incorporated into the artist’s exhibition at NTU CCA Singapore, and used within a series of Jam Sessions between arachnids and musicians including Brian O’Reilly, Bani Haykal, and Joyce Koh who collaborated with philosopher Etienne Turpin. Multiple recordings, also took place, often impromptu, in Saraceno’s studio in Berlin throughout the preparations of the exhibition in Singapore. These Studio Rehearsals, Spiders Salons—improvisations between the arachnids and multidisciplinary musicians David Rothenberg and Evan Zyporin—together with the Jam Sessions came together as an album. Accessible on the online audio distribution platform, SoundCloud, the album is included in this publication. An essay by Elizabeth A. Povinelli and a manifesto authored by Brian Massumi foregrounds Saraceno’s experiment in current attempts to decentralise the human subject and address the perceptual world of non-human species. Spiders don’t speak in the way humans conceive language, yet they are neither silent nor mute. By making audible what we can not hear and fully comprehend—the spider’s vibrations—Saraceno draws attention to various modalities of expression and inter-relationality whose potentiality is yet to be valued.

Tomás Saraceno: Arachnid Orchestra. Jam Sessions
Published by NTU CCA Singapore
© 2017
ISBN: 978-981-11-3047-2

Purchase here.

Brian O’Reilly works within the fields of electroacoustic composition, sound installations, moving images, and noise music. He is also a contrabassist focusing on uncovering the inaudible textures and hidden acoustic micro-sounds of his instrument through the integration of electronic treatments and extended playing techniques. He performs with moving images and modular analog synthesizer under Black Zenith and contrabass as well as electronics with the group Game of Patience. O’Reilly is Lecturer at the School of Contemporary Music, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore.

Dr Elizabeth A. Povinelli is an anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. In her writing and film work, she developed a critical theory of late liberalism that supports an anthropology of the otherwise. She was previously the editor of Public Culture and has published widely, including Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016), Economies of Abandonment (2011), and The Empire of Love (2006). She is a founding member of the Karrabing Film Collective. Povinelli is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University, New York.

Robert Zhao Renhui (b. 1982, Singapore) is a multi-disciplinary artist and the founder of the Institute of Critical Zoologists. Persistently twisting reality and fiction, his artistic practice addresses the human relationship with nature challenging accepted parameters of objectivity and scientific modes of classifications. Over the years, Zhao has appropriated codes and convention of documentary photography and museum display to compose compelling narratives that subtly destabilize our notion of truth.

Zhao received his Bachelor‚ and Master‚ degree in Photography from Camberwell College of Arts and London College of Communication respectively. His work has been exhibited in international group show such as Jiwa: Jakarta Biennale, Indonesia, 2017; 7th Moscow Biennale, Russia, 2017; 20th Sydney Biennale, Australia 2016; Les Recontres d‚Arles, France, 2015. Amongst his more recent solo exhibitions in Singapore are The Nature Museum, commissioned by Singapore International Festival of Art (SIFA) and The Bizarre Honour, realized for OH! Open House, both in 2017. Zhao has undertaken residencies at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France, and Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco, United States, and the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan. He was awarded Young Artist Award by National Arts Council in 2010 and is currently a finalist of Hugo Boss Asia Art Award.

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