Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the European Union Delegation to Singapore today launched the Studio Residencies in the EU for Southeast Asian Artists (SEA AiR), a new programme that aims to create a peer-to-peer cultural and artistic exchange between Southeast Asia and Europe, with Singapore as its hub.

This public diplomacy project is funded by EU’s Foreign Policy Instruments. 

SEA AiR will offer selected artists from Southeast Asia an engaging immersion in the European art scene that allows a deeper understanding of the various cultural strands and values shaping the continent. Through this experience, participating artists can create links with other art projects in Singapore, their home countries and the wider region. At the end of the residency, the artists will have an exhibition in Singapore which will enable them to present and showcase their artwork to a wider audience.

As a new residency programme, SEA AiR will promote a creative exchange enhancing the EU-Singapore–ASEAN dialogue through contemporary art and provide a meaningful opportunity for artists who have previously not lived or studied in the EU. Likewise, host institutions will benefit from expanding their networks in Southeast Asia, a region that has been historically under-represented in most artist-in-residence programmes in Europe.

Leading NTU’s efforts in this partnership with the European Union is the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore).

The first host institution will be the WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels, Belgium. As a space dedicated to the exhibition and support of emerging artists since 2007, WIELS occupies a central stage in the art scene. A highly renowned institution dedicated to contemporary art, its residency is supporting emerging artists towards professional practices, presenting original artistic visions and facilitating critical exchange, and establishing connections between local and international artists and curators. 

Barbara Plinkert, European Union Ambassador to Singapore said: “We have in the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore an excellent partner to present this project that will foster rich artistic exchanges inspired by travel and cultural exposure to Europe. SEA AiR offers a deeper, more extensive engagement and immersion in the vibrant European cultural landscape and arts scene to experience first-hand the various cultural strands and values shaping our world today.”

This initiative involves emerging artists in Singapore and Southeast Asia to further develop their practice, careers, networks and exposure where opportunities may not likely have existed. It also offers a means for European cultural institutions and communities to establish international cooperation and exchange with Singapore and the diverse Southeast Asian region.

Professor Joseph Liow, Dean of College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University said: “NTU, through the Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is proud to be partnering with the EU Delegation in Singapore on this initiative that will be of great impact to the development of contemporary art and artists in Singapore and Southeast Asia. This partnership is a demonstration of the recognition of the Centre’s track record and further strengthens ties between the university and the EU. The SEA AiRprogramme is a significant opportunity for emerging Singaporean and ASEAN artists and we are pleased to support them in this way.”

How SEA AiR works

Residency candidates will be nominated by a pool of curators and arts professionals in Singapore and the region. These artists will subsequently submit a proposal for review to the Selection Committee, consisting of a panel of experts including the EU Delegation.

Selected artists will be offered a residency at selected European host institutions for up to three months, which will include studio access, accommodation and regional research trip opportunities. The artists are expected to present a new work from their residency upon their return reflecting on their experience in the residency, cultural exchange, creative dialogues, community and professional connections and more.

NTU CCA Singapore will serve as a connector and positive catalyst between all stakeholders and will provide mentorship and guidance to the selected artists in developing and realising their work and projects. At the end of their residency, NTU CCA Singapore and the EU host institution will continue to provide the artists with feedback and support. NTU CCA Singapore’s curatorial team will also work closely with them on an exhibition or presentation in Singapore to showcase the body of work pursued whilst in Europe. Furthermore, they will share their process of artistic enquiry with the public via a range of public programmes.

See Annex A for more information about SEA AiR—Studio Residencies for Southeast Asian Artists in the EU.

Since its inception in October 2013, NTU CCA Singapore has successfully conceptualised and administered an extensive residencies programme, supporting artists, curators, and scholars alike by offering them time and space to pursue their research without the pressure of deadlines and production commitments.

The Centre’s residencies programme is dedicated to working with established and emerging artists and is recognised as a platform for critical exchange in Southeast Asia. Its studio-based programme values the open-ended nature of artistic research and embraces multiform expressions of creative enquiry. This approach is of particular importance, allowing for free expression and giving artists latitude to question society in its plurality.

NTU CCA Singapore’s expertise in the selection of artists, its network of international host organisations, and experience in the administering of artists’ residencies makes it the ideal organising institution to launch SEA AiR. 

Media Contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University

Deepika Shetty
Press Officer
European Union Delegation to Singapore

ANNEX A – SEA AiR Fact Sheet

SEA AiR aims to bring six emerging Singaporean or Southeast Asian artists over three years from 2021-2023 to Europe.

In the first year, candidates put forward by nominators selected by NTU CCA Singapore from arts, educational, and cultural institutions throughout Southeast Asia would provide a research proposal as an application for a three-month residency in the European Union.

The host institutions in Europe will provide access to a furnished studio, accommodation, per diems, regional research field trip and logistical and day-to-day assistance in a community of creative practitioners.

The artists will have ample opportunities for building networks as well as personal and professional development. Formal convenings of artists-in-residence with their peers drawn from a local or international cohort can take the form of sharing sessions, studio critique sessions, and organised study trips.

Curatorial and artistic mentorship would take the form of regular studio visits or other sessions with assigned mentors and less formal studio visits with visiting curators and artists. These sessions will centre around discussions on their research and studio projects as well as their practice as a whole. 

During their time in the EU, artists will attend public programmes, exhibitions, and other events at the host institution. They will also have the opportunity to present their work publicly, in the form of a lecture, performance, screening, installation, or open studio event. Artists-in-Residence will also participate in group excursions and sessions alongside other residency artists.

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.

Gary Ross Pastrana will collect “Fifty Shared Words” as a response to the overlaps in histories and languages in the various parts of Southeast Asia. With these words he will write short descriptions, musings, meditations or anecdotes about each word, comparable in format with Primo Levi’s Periodic Table. Research will be kept to informal conversations with artists and other everyday people encountered during the residency to keep the whole experience direct, unmediated, and current. The aim is not to come up with an academic linguistic study but to encounter words in actual usage by real people and in the process learn through communication. Short stays in other neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, (to meet artists and visit artists communities) is also worked into the plan to expose to varying settings and the more subtle differences in context and usage of the words.

Erika Tan (b. 1967, Singapore) is an artist and Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, London. Her research-led practice develops from an interest in received narratives, contested heritage, subjugated voices, and the transnational movement of ideas, people, and objects. Between July and August 2015, Tan was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore where she continued her research into the minor historical figure of the Malay weaver Halimah and the conditions surrounding the 1924 British Empire Exhibiton, an inquiry that has since developed into the video installations APA JIKA, The Mis-Placed Comma and The ‘Forgotten’ Weaver (both in 2017).

During the residency, Krist Gruijthuijsen will connect with local artists and institutions in Singapore. He will present a talk titled The Ouroboros Effect featuring a selection of projects initiated over the past decade that reflect upon the importance in his curatorial practice of the artist’s voice and of the material and social conditions of artistic production.

During his residency, Phoumivong will continue to experiment with stop-motion animation, working on a project entitled The Emotion. The 10-minute video installation, produced using locally sourced clay, is an experiment in time and texture. The work is part of the artist’s ongoing investigation into alternative forms of artistic creation, which inform his practice as an artist and educator and are especially significant in Laos, a country where visual art is focused mostly on painting.

During the residency, Lacey will develop One divides into two, a project which derives its title from a Maoist slogan from the 1960s. The project expands the artist’s investigations into non-western print histories and is backgrounded by her ongoing interest in the differing physical forms of public communication across various broadcasting platforms. Lacey aims to research current approaches to publishing and copyright in the Southeast Asian region with a specific focus on the printing history of Cambodia, looking in particular at bootlegged publications, the flouting of copyright laws, and the histories of digital piracy.

During the residency, John Torres plans to experiment with “parasitical filmmaking strategies” as the starting point of a series of works he intends to realise throughout Southeast Asia. By positioning himself at the periphery of ongoing film productions, Torres will collect their multiple “excesses:” spillages in light, sound, props, furniture, scenic design, and everything that may linger outside the perimeter of the main set. Tapping onto other directors’ scraps and making use of resources that have already been paid for to create his own separate narrative, the artist aims to test out a playful method for bypassing the financial limitations of independent film productions. In light of his recent role as father, this work will be developed within the framework of Remote Daddy Project: a way of structuring the artist’s work schedule around his daughter’s sleep and feeding schedule so as to strike a balance between making art and raising a family.

During his residency Jeremy Sharma will focus on the idea of ‘Vertical Progression’ , observing the logic of production, the production of ideas and the idea of the use of the studio space through different strategies of art making. The research will be based on three phases , Longitudes, Endgames and Screensavers, White Heron and Vertical Progression. Longitudes, Endgames and Screensavers is a distractive stage that starts off with several elements going at once. White Heron will takethe form of a studio installation developed from the different phases and will conclude the project. Sharma’s current research investigates abstract ideas of time, capital and economy in our present society.

Throughout the residency, John Low is pursuing an interdisciplinary investigation on the expanding field of contemporary Chinese ink practices in the context of Singapore and Southeast Asia. Extending beyond the technical specificity of the medium, his interests encompass the relationship between place and identity, the patterns of knowledge transmission, and the processes through which a shared diasporic culture becomes localised. Fuelled by conversations with local scholars, practioners, and other relevant interlocutors, this research also tackles the literature on the subject as the artist scrutinises how language, specifically English and Mandarin, affects the production of knowledge and the circulation of discourse. The studio also provides Low with a space to experiment with different spatial configurations of his own works with Chinese ink. During the second part of the residency, he plans to focus on the production of a new floor piece.