Interested in chemical processes caused by human interference in nature, the practice of Susanne Kriemann unfolds slowly across extended periods of time. Splitting her residency into two parts, the first of which took place last August, the artist is conducting field research on the presence of (micro)plastics in the intertidal mangrove habitats of Singapore and the Riau Archipelago. Since the 1950s, plastic has become the chief material of industrial mass production due to its lightweight, durability, and low production costs. With a decomposition time of about 500 years, all plastic items ever produced are still extant on the planet. Through most disposal systems, they enter the oceans where ultraviolet light, heat, wind, and waves progressively reduce them to “mermaid tears”, pellet-shaped particles with a diameter of approximately five millimetres. Kriemann recently participated in a residency in Colombo, Sri Lanka to investigate similar habitats and will spend this final month re-examining and consolidating the gathered materials.
Research Interests: Landfill ecologies Post-consumer waste Ecological engagement Interspecies encounters Post-human and eco-feminist studies Diana Lelonek examines the complex interdependency between growing trends of overproduction and natural ecosystems. Since 2016, she has been gathering waste-derived specimens under the aegis of The Center for Living Things, a long-term artistic project shaped as an independent grassroots research institute. Classified in collaboration with botanists and other natural scientists, The Center for Living Things’ collection includes discarded commodities and objects that, upon disposal, become part of the natural environment for a number of living organisms. Extending this fascination for how the ecosystems of landfills turn into fertile habitats and are reclaimed by non-human organisms, for her research in Singapore, Lelonek will focus on the offshore landfill Pulau Semakau and its own specific ecosystem. Together with the Liaison (Artistic Research), the artist will explore post-waste environments and the waste-derived specimens that come to life within those contexts. The Liaison should preferably have a strong interest in environmental issues, anthropocene studies, and/or botany. Research Liaison: Denise Lim Through photography, painting and three-dimensional explorations influenced by her background in architecture, Denise Lim examines narratives inherent to the human condition. Central to her research interests are circular design and co-creation with nature in the age of the Anthropocene.
The residency of Diana Lelonek was scheduled for October – December 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak rendered international travel impossible. In order to continue to support artistic research and foster collaborations beyond borders, the NTU CCA Residencies Programme initiated Residencies Rewired, a project that trailblazes new pathways to collaboration.
Understanding water as a living entity, a public resource, and a human right, Carolina Caycedo’s project Be Dammed (2012-ongoing) investigates the environmental and social effects caused by human intervention on water flows. During her residency, the artist will expand her research in a two-pronged direction by inquiring on the current state of traditional fishing practices and communities in Singapore and on the country’s integrated water supply strategy known as Four National Taps (FNT). On one hand, she will research the impact of coastal and economic developments on traditional fishermen’s lifestyle in the past two decades, taking into consideration related processes of resistance and/or adaptation to change and dispossession. On the other hand, she will probe the history of rivers and reservoirs and the FNT water management plan implemented by the Public Utilities Board in order to question the internationally acclaimed “holistic approach” of this strategy.
This residency was cancelled due to personal circumstances.
Merging studio practice and long-term involvements with local communities, the artistic practiceof Carolina Caycedo (b. 1978, United Kingdom/United States) shows a deep commitment tomovements of resistance, economies of solidarity, and environmental rights. Through her work,she investigates dynamics of assimilation and resistance, representation and control, addressing human and natural environments affected by extractivist modes of development. Recently,she held solo exhibitions at Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, United States (2020) andOrange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, United States (2019). Her work has been included innumerous international exhibitions and biennials including 32nd São Paulo Biennial, Brazil (2016);8th Berlin Biennial, Germany (2014), and X Havana Biennial, Cuba (2009) among others.
During the residency, Ang Song Nian will continue his ongoing investigation into human interventions on the urban landscape by focusing on plant nurseries and the potted plants industry in Singapore. This research unfolds in the wake of a residency at Bangkok University Gallery that culminated with the work As They Grow Older and Wiser (2016). Ang was fascinated by the legal loopholes that allowed for a massive transplanting of rare and exotic trees from the region of Chiang Mai to the fast-changing city of Bangkok for decorative purposes. Framed against Singapore’s nation-building narratives, the artist is interested in the manipulation of nature through state-driven initiatives and policies of environmental control, greening, and city-branding. Such endeavours include the Tree Planting campaign of 1963 and the government’s subsequent initiatives directed to fabricate a new understanding of nature and obliterate the country’s past of clearing forests to make way for plantation economy.
CITIES FOR PEOPLE is the pilot edition of the annual NTU CCA Ideas Fest, a platform to catalyse critical exchange of ideas and encourage thinking “out of the box”. It is a bottom-up approach linking the artistic and academic community with grassroots initiatives. This pilot edition expands artistic interventions and engages contemporary issues such as air, water, food, environment, and social interaction in connection to artistic and cultural fields, academic research, and design applications.
The 10-day programme, coinciding with Singapore Art Week 2017 and Art After Dark at Gillman Barracks, comprises a conglomerate of performances, public installations, participatory projects and social experiment, urban farming initiatives, public dialogues, and a variety of workshops. It cumulates in a three-day summit that brings together a prominent group of architects, theorists, researchers, curators, and community groups to discuss and exchange ideas about urbanism, modes of exchange, critical spatial practice, and to envision a future city. CITIES FOR PEOPLE offers a platform to contemplate the possibilities for our shared space, reformulate our demands accordingly, and project solutions and desires for the future.
CITIES FOR PEOPLE, borrowing the title from a book by eminent Singapore architect William S. W. Lim published in 1990, expands on some of the ideas Lim developed, particularly in relation to tropical environments and recycling, as well as his call for a humanistic architecture. Organised on the occasion of the exhibition Incomplete Urbanism: Attempts at Critical Spatial Practice, this event is an invitation to share and engage in cooperative projects and collective experiences that critically reflect on current challenges in urban and social development.
“To live and die well together in a thick present,” quotes the seminal text Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulhucene by Donna Haraway. In this text, Haraway responds to the rising sense of alarm surrounding ecological discourses on the Anthropocene and the Capitalocene. The book is a proposal to move instead towards the discursive framework of the Cthulhucene—an ecological epoch that, for Haraway, “eschews futurism” and remains resolutely with the present and all its problems; one that stays with the trouble and finds kin within it.
To consider the global ecosystem as a network of entangled and interconnected life-forces, the ecological imminence is also an imminence of existence. It begins with disappearance—of water, of trees, of entire habitats and species—all turned to vapour and thin air. And yet thin air in a thick present takes vapour as a beginning, too: vapour cycles through time, becoming cloud, becoming rainfall, becoming water-body again. Taking the Earth’s hydrologic cycle—that is, the sequence of processes detailing the cyclical movement of water on and off the Earth’s surface—as its entry-point, Vapour Islands: to live and die well together in a thick present* is an archipelago of thematic “islands,” in which each island corresponds to one of the four main stages of the hydrologic cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and percolation. Interacting with books and research materials from the Centre’s Public Resource Platform while thinking through the cycle of water, this presentation moves through and between loss and regain, release and redistribution, to consider the ways in which thin air can be transformed into a present thick with possibility.
By inhabitants in collaboration with Margarida Mendes
Deep sea mining is a new frontier of resource extraction located on the ocean seabed. It is set to begin in the next few years, as the technology is currently under development. Mining companies are, at present, leasing areas for exploitation in national and international waters in order to assess the potential to extract minerals and metals such as manganese, cobalt, gold, copper, iron, and other rare earth elements. The main geological sites targeted are areas rich in polymetallic nodules, seamounts, and hydrothermal vents; areas typically found where tectonic plates meet. The areas to be mined could cover parts of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean in international waters, and national waters off the islands of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Japan, and the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. Assessment of the impact on deep sea ecosystems is underway, though their cumulative effects remain difficult to comprehend given the unprecedented variety and expanse of the mining sites targeted. At the same time, local and indigenous communities living in these regions are not being adequately consulted.
The prospects of this form of mining re-actualise a colonial, frontier mentality and are redefining extractivist economies for the twenty-first century. What is Deep Sea Mining? addresses both knowledge of the deep sea and ocean governance, but also efforts to defend a sustained ocean literacy beyond the United Nations’ “blue economy” at a time when the deep ocean, its species, and its resources remain largely unmapped and understudied.
Episode 1, Tools for Ocean Literacy, is historical and geographical introduction to deep sea mining, playing with Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 film Powers of Ten.
Episode 2, Deep Frontiers, tells a story about knowledge of the seabed and its alien life, written by anthropologist Stefan Helmreich.
Episode 3, The Azore Case, focuses on the Portuguese Azores nine island archipelago, following European Union plans to mine in the region, based on a series of interviews with marine biologists and politicians conducted in the islands.
Episode 4, A Glossary on Mining, offers a brief glossary of terms that can be used to better tackle the issue of mining reserves and monopolies on land, which in turn may lead to the potential threat of deep sea mining.
Episode 5, The Papua New Guinea Case, addresses the plans to mine off the coast of Papua New Guinea as well as the long activist struggle by local communities across the Pacific against deep sea mining. Episode 5 will be premiered at NTU CCA Singapore, simultaneously in the Lab space and online on social media and the websites of NTU CCA Singapore’s website, the funding and partner institution TBA21 – Academy’s website, and inhabitants-tv.
The NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is honoured to present They Come to Us without a Word, video and performance pioneer Joan Jonas’ first large-scale exhibition in Singapore and Southeast Asia. They Come to Us without a Word was organised for the U.S. Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and co-curated by Paul C. Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. With this exhibition Jonas evokes the fragility of nature, using her own poetic language to address the irreversible impact of human interference on the environmental equilibrium of our planet.
Acknowledgements They Come to Us without a Word was organised for the U.S. Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and co-curated by Paul C. Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. The exhibition was generously supported by U.S. Department of State, Cynthia and John Reed, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additional major support was provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT, Toby Devan Lewis, VIA Art Fund, Agnes Gund, Lambent Foundation.
The exhibition in Singapore is organised by the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Nanyang Technological University with support by the Economic Development Board, Singapore. Additional support has also been provided by the U.S. Embassy Singapore.
Ant Farm was founded in 1968 in San Francisco by architects Chip Lord and Doug Michels as a countercultural collective intersecting between media art and architecture. Their influential work, which integrated art into everyday life with an ironic humour, highlighted environmental degradation, promoted sustainability, and challenged the ideologies and pervasiveness of American mass media, culture, and consumerism. They disbanded in 1978 after a fire destroyed their studio.