Drawing from ancestral histories of her birthplace, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Taloi Havini’s practice delves into colonial histories, the politics of location, and contested sites and materials. Many socio-political and environmental issues have pervaded Bougainville in the aftermath of a civil war that resulted from the contentious operations of the Panguna copper mine. Frequently collaborating with practitioners from her matrilineal clan in Bougainville, Havini’s ongoing research explores the transmission of indigenous knowledge systems and the conflicting interests of fraught sites in Bougainville through dissecting the biases of official archives and personal records. With issues of climate, migration, and extractive industries orienting her research compass, she will use the residency to connect with other thinkers to trigger exchange of perspectives between Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The artist’s residency was scheduled from October to December 2020. Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and international travel restrictions, the residency could not be carried out as planned.
Ranging from photography and sculpture to mixed-media installations, the diverse practice of Taloi Havini(b. 1981, Autonomous Region of Bougainville/Australia) explores sites of political conflicts ensuing from colonial occupations unravelling narratives of nation building within the Pacific. In positing personal responses within contested sites and histories of Oceania, her work recalibrates dominant histories and structures of representation. Havini’s solo exhibitions include Reclamation, Artspace, Sydney, Australia (2020) and Habitat, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2017). Her works have been selected as part of group shows such as Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2020); A beast, a god, and a line, Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway (2019); and the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland, Australia (2018).
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.
During his residency, Xu Tan will continue to work and expand on his project Keywords Lab: Socio-botany. First initiated in 2012, the work consisted of investigations and interviews with disparate voices and inhabitants around the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province, China on their views on urbanisation in China.
By bringing Keywords Lab: Socio-botany into the context of Singapore, Xu hopes to understand Singapore’s view on the complexities that govern our relationship with the natural and built environments that we live in. Proposed points of entry are through local discussions on the history of plants, criteria in urban construction and development, citizen participation in public tree planting programmes and lastly, conditions of food production.
Xu Tan is an artist. His ongoing project Searching for Keywords analyses video interviews of different communities to identify keywords based on meanings that reveal the values and motivations of contemporary Chinese society. Between June and August 2016, Xu was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore where he expanded his work on the project Keywords Lab: Socio-botany (first initiated in 2012), conducting interviews with various local practitioners engaged in the practice of urban farming in Singapore.
For the past decade, Zarina Muhammad has embarked on a multidisciplinary research that explores magico-religious belief systems, ritual practices, and sacred sites. The various embodiments of her work, which engage broader contexts of myth-making, ritual magic, gender-based archetypes, and spirits of resistance, frame the cultural biographies of objects and the region’s provisional relationship to mysticism and the immaterial against the dynamics of global modernity. Her research project for the residency takes the trans-local figures of the penunggu (tutelary spirit) and the tuan/puan tanah (Lord of the Land) as points of departure to reconsider notions of territoriality and spectrality against the social production of rationality. During the residency, she will focus on mapping old and new ways to tell stories of unresolved memories, fragmented cosmologies, shapeshifting translations, and haunted histories.
Over the past five years, Việt Lê has been collecting film footage as well as sociological, historical, and archival materials for his experimental film trilogy Sonic Spiritualties. Interweaving the artist’s interest in popular culture and diaspora studies, the trilogy explores the impact of economic and environmental turbulences on music and various forms of spirituality in Southeast Asia. By framing situations where Buddhism meets pop music and violent displacement is translated into songs, the trilogy envisages sonic environments that challenge the borders of traditional and experimental music, the sacred and the mundane, the sublime and the banal. Halfway between documentary and music video, this hybrid production re-envisages the relationship between music and spiritual practices by working across dance, art history, ethnomusicology, and anthropology. Lê’s residency is dedicated to pursuing follow-up research and post-production editing for the final stages of this project.
Merging fictional stories and historical accounts, the practice of Liu Yu (b. 1985, Taiwan) cuts across video, installation, and text. Her work is concerned with re-contextualizing stories of marginalised communities as a commentary on the intricacies of domineering power structures. Using field work and site-specific methodologies, she reconstructs alternative narratives strung together by fragmented representations of space, history, image, and narration. Recent solo exhibitions include The history of the concave and the convex, Hong-gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2018) and Several Ways to Believe, Taiwan Academy, Los Angeles, United States (2016). She has recently participated in group exhibitions such the Asian Art Biennial, Taichung, Taiwan (2019).
Li Ran provides exhibitionary structures in which to look at wider dynamics of fabricated structures in narrative and history. In Beyond Geography (2012) he looks at the National Geographic style of the anthropological but with the caricature of the natives and anthropologist played by the same race. Li has also looked at the idea of re using elements from projects and what it means to re contextualising work to comment on the circulation of cultures bringing to attention forms of mis/communication. For his research, Li will work closely with Singapore Management University faculty Rowan Wang to understand the dissemination of protestant ideals in Singapore, not only through the lens of theology, but as a form of ideological management. Li will build an open platform, re purposing works and structures from past work, incorportated into an interviewing structure.
Tan Pin Pin is a Singapore filmmaker who questions gaps in history, memory, and processes of documentation. Self-reflective in their addressing of the complexities of the filmic medium, her films include: Moving House (2001), Singapore GaGa (2005), Invisible City (2007), To Singapore with Love (2013), and In Time To Come (2017). They have been shown at numerous international film festivals around the world and have won multiple awards. She had retrospectives at RIDM Montreal, DOK Leipzig. She was the executive producer of award-winning Unteachable (2019). She is a co-founding member of filmcommunitysg, a community of independent filmmakers and was a board member of the Singapore International Film Festival, The Substation and the National Archives of Singapore. She was awarded the S. Rajaratnam scholarship to study for an MFA at Northwestern University, USA. She was awarded the S. Rajaratnam scholarship to study for an MFA at Northwestern University, USA, and was called to the Singapore Bar upon completion of her law degree from Oxford University.
During her residency at NTU CCA Singapore between May and September 2016, Tan was working on her five-year project In Time to Come (2017), a contemplative film on daily rituals in Singapore, from school ceremonies to opening protocol in a bookstore, in which constant repetition provides a sense of frozen time in a city that always looks forward.