Committed to socially engaged practices, multi-disciplinary theatre practitioner Han Xuemei (b. 1987, Singapore) employs art as a tool for bringing communities together and engaging the audience in visceral and personal ways. In her practice, she creates spaces and experiences that incite participants to think outside the box of existing paradigms and articulate forms of hope and resistance. Since 2012, she is Resident Artist at the Singapore-based theatre company Drama Box. Her recent projects include the experiential installation FLOWERS (2019), the community project The Gift (2018), and the participatory experience Missing: The City of Lost Things (2018).

Regina (Maria) Möller is an artist and previously Visiting Professor at NTU ADM, Singapore, and Visiting Research Fellow at NTU CCA Singapore. With an interest in practices of design and histories of textiles, Möller is the founder of the magazine regina (1994–ongoing), which appropriates the format of mainstream women’s fashion magazines, and of the label “embodiment” focused on the interaction between body and environment at large. As part of her research fellowship, Möller developed Interrogative Pattern – Text(ile) Weave (2015–17), a project unfolded in various formats that explored the relation between labour, identity construction, and cultural assimilations in an emerging global sameness through the case study of the Samsui women’s iconic headdress.

Guo-Liang Tan’s practice revolves around how the space of painting and writing can be charged with affect and otherness. Tan is interested in how this sense of absence, pointing towards an imagined past and/or future, frames our present-ness and of our subjectivities. Tension between the phenomenological and the psychological are played out in the process of painting and writing, staging congruencies and slippages that occurs within material and language.

Tan’s current research is the notion of touch as an indexical and invocative gesture. Inherent in the materiality of the fabric as a substrate to receive and retain traces is a certain resistance, which provides a counter- movement that simultaneously works along and against gestures of painterly touch. The final compositions are an interplay between design and chance which re(as)sembles traces and modes of Modernist abstraction while hinting at folds of the corporeal. Parallel to the paintings is a series of text-based videos that investigate the possibility of language to suspend the imaginary space between touching and not touching, speech and non-speech. Staging scenes between the haptic and the haunted, these works play with the conventions of reading and listening where voices register tones of intimacy and ambivalence in equal measures.

Joan Jonas is one of the most significant video and performance artists and important female artists active in the 1960s and 1970s. She pioneered the use of the two genres in visual art and was influential also in other art forms. Incorporating different media, she presents multiple viewpoints and layers of material, texture, and meanings in her work to address current issues. In 1972, she began producing video works that were ground-breaking in emphasising the experience of the medium as a conceptual device and is known for merging various genres in her fragmented video narratives.

Theatrical Fields introduces theatricality as a critical strategy in performance, film and video. This exhibition presents six video installations shown for the first time in Southeast Asia: Voice off by Judith Barry (USA), Suspiria by Stan Douglas (Canada), Lines in the Sand by Joan Jonas (USA), Vagabondia by Isaac Julien (UK), She Might Belong to You by Eva Meyer & Eran Schaerf (Germany / Israel), X Characters Re(hers)AL by Constanze Ruhm (Austria). Situated in juxtaposition, the works generate temporal spaces for experimental action, creating unfamiliar proximities and encounters.

Theatrical Fields was curated by Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director) with Anca Rujoiu (Curator for Exhibitions), and was first presented and commissioned by the Bildmuseet, Umea in Sweden (2013).

As a collaboration, Bildmuseet Umea and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore will publish a catalogue including keynotes from the symposium and additional commissioned essays.

Theatrical Fields public programmes

Amanda Heng is an artist. With an interest in the clash of Eastern and Western values, traditions, and gender roles in the context of a multicultural and fast-changing society of Singapore, her work embraces different media including performance. Between April and September 2015, Heng was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore. During her residency, she developed the series Exchange of Everyday Rituals (Forms of Engagement), which included Contact Improvisation with dancer Eng Kai Er and Tea and Sounds with NTU CCA Singapore’s curator Vera Mey, and the studio intervention The Body, Wall Space, and a Smile.

Carsten Nicolai is a cross-disciplinary artist whose work intersects art, music, and science. He introduced the dimensions of time and temporality and concepts of ephemerality in his work as well as experiments with sound and light frequencies in the mid-1990s. He is interested in the subject of human consciousness and how the complex phenomena of micro and macrosystems, and abstract concepts of physics, influence someone’s behaviour. For his musical outputs, he uses the pseudonym Alva Noto.

Karlos Gil is an artist whose multiple art practice thrives on paradox, memory, and navigation between the past and the present to articulate or question the codes that construct meaning. Through a variety of media, he researches the movement of sense regarding the art object and examines its cognitive value as a specific system of knowledge production. Gil studied at Facultad de Bellas Artes UCM and at the School of Visual Arts New York. He has shown his work in CA2M, Matadero and Casa Encendida in Madrid, and at LABoral (Gijón), as well as at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Moscow Biennale. In 2014 was recipient of the Fundación Botín Arts grant.

How to breathe deeply and sing expressively in this moment when the mouth and nose embody danger? How to have pleasure in music when in its essences it is airborne and moist?

Let us return power and agency to the mouth and voice while still protecting ourselves and others. Let us express our emotions freely into the air that we all share. The Mouthful mask is both conceptual and practical. It exposes the breath and gives us an earful and eyeful of air. Mouthful projects a new sound which follows the guidelines of our time while it overcomes and embraces the obstacles we face with poetry and humor.

Mouthful is conceived by Ana Prvački, produced and manifested by Galina Mihaleva and activated by Reginald Jalleh and Zerlina Tan with original music by Joyce Bee Tuan Koh. A transdisciplinary, collaborative work, Mouthful is realized with two performative activations and as an installation and sound work in The Vitrine at NTU CCA Singapore, Block 43 Malan Road.

The Disappearance situates itself in the architectural setting of a previous exhibition Paradise Lost. It works with what is left out: the traces of the show in the space; its echoes in our memory, The Disappearance conceals and reveals: what has happened before and what will follow. Subject to operations of installation and de-installation, an exhibition space if continuously edited: we erase one text to inscribe another. The Disappearance acknowledges the inherent changes into an exhibition space and its continuous rewriting. What happens after an exhibition is over? What we remember? How we remember?

Curated by Anca Rujoiu (Curator for Exhibitions) and Vera Mey (Curator for Residencies), The Disappearance is conceived as a durational event unfolding over two days including a continuous series of manifestations from live performances to film screenings.