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).

The practice of Buen Calubayan (b. 1980, Philippines) interweaves politics, religion, history, and identity combining the autobiographical with the art historical in a continuous process of re-contextualization. In his works, the historical influence of Western canons on Filipino art and his own personal struggle to find validation as an artist often merge with broader reflections on the greater state of affairs of his country and the problematic writing of its socio-cultural histories. His most recent solo shows include Biowork at Ateneo Art Gallery, Quezon City, Philippines (2015) and Idiot Knows No Country, La Trobe University Visual Arts Center, Bendigo, Australia (2014). He has presented his paintings, performances, sculptures, and conceptual works in international group exhibitions at the Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea and at Kunstvlaai: Festival of Independents, Amsterdam, Netherlands, amongst others. He received the 2013 Ateneo Art Awards for the project Spoliarium which reinterpreted an iconic painting by Filipino master Juan Luna and was awarded the 13 Artists Award by the Cultural Centre of the Philippines in 2009.

The practice of Wei Leng Tay probes the psychic, systemic, and geopolitical consequences of displacement through personal encounters and intimate conversations captured in photography, videos, and sound recordings. Having lived in Hong Kong for the past 15 years before moving back to Singapore in 2016, Tay plans to devote the time of the residency to re-rooting her artistic practice and transposing Sightlines—a collaborative project initiated with researcher Michelle Wong to explore the relationship of art, aesthetics, society, and politics in Hong Kong in the aftermath of the 2014 Umbrella Movement—in the context of her home country. Furthermore, she will initiate a long-term project which extends her preoccupations with forced movements and migrations by addressing notions of “return” through a series of interviews. The studio space will be used to experiment with materials, techniques, and installations to articulate new ways to present her work.

Responding to the concept of The Making of an Institution, Maria Hlavajova will discuss the notion of “instituting otherwise” using BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, in Utrecht, an institution of which she is the founding director, as an example. Dedicated to thinking about, with, and through art, BAK engages in long-term research trajectories engaging with the urgencies that define our contemporary, including issues of social and environmental justice and the relevance of digital technologies. Hlavajova will draw upon her research within a number of interrelated projects she is involved with, including Former West (2008–2016) and Future Vocabularies (2014–ongoing), all the while exploring the shifts within our existing conceptual lexicon for artistic, intellectual, and activist practices.

Vera Mey is an independent curator and PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is part of the curatorial team for SEA Project (2017) at the Mori Art Museum, Japan, and National Art Center, Tokyo. She is also co-founder of the scholarly journal Southeast of Now. Between 2014 and 2016, she joined Ambitious Alignments, a research initiative of the Getty Foundation. She was part of the founding team of NTU CCA Singapore as Curator for Residencies from 2014 to 2016.

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor are artists who have worked together since 2000. Their artistic practice involves bringing history into the present tense. Between July and September 2014, Vătămanu and Tudor were Artists-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore where they focused on the prevalent presence of migrant labour in Singapore. During their residency, the artists also produced Le Monde et les Choses, a map based on statistical studies by the Central Intelligence Agency that shows the dominant industries in each world country. The map exposes the contradictions of global neoliberalism, revealing the large domination over industries by a small number of countries.

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor are artists who have worked together since 2000. Their artistic practice involves bringing history into the present tense. Between July and September 2014, Vătămanu and Tudor were Artists-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore where they focused on the prevalent presence of migrant labour in Singapore. During their residency, the artists also produced Le Monde et les Choses, a map based on statistical studies by the Central Intelligence Agency that shows the dominant industries in each world country. The map exposes the contradictions of global neoliberalism, revealing the large domination over industries by a small number of countries.

Stagings. Soundings. Readings. Free Jazz II reviews the performative format that marked NTU CCA Singapore’s inauguration in 2013. Free Jazz 2013 was a series of talks and performances where participants of various disciplines were invited to imagine and envision a new institution and its potential. On its five-year anniversary, the Centre continues advocating for free spaces, celebrating the practice of improvisation, as well as of collective and performative approaches. Discussing ethical values with an expanded sense of community, territorial, and environmental concerns, Stagings. Soundings. Readings. employs an open, multidisciplinary structure that challenges traditional modes of presentation and re-presentation through a range of artistic practices and formats.

Situated within a complex and contemporary understanding of the Centre’s current overarching research topic CLIMATES. HABITATS. ENVIRONMENTS., the featured works link theory and practice, emphasising collectiveness. Today, the planet is witnessing a moment of unprecedented loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction, and cultural transformations. In the face of such agitated times juxtaposed with advanced communicative tools, contemporary social and environmental issues require responses from a collective body, through establishing processes of instigation, negotiation, and collaboration.

Can we learn from what we see as opposed to being merely seduced by images, becoming active participants instead of only passive observers? Stagings. Soundings. Readings. is an enactment between the artists and the audience. The invited artists engage with a less prescribed environment, reflecting on history, collective action, and human interaction.

Located outside the Centre, Maria Loboda‘s sculptural installation is grounded in historical narratives as a reminder that things can change and be taken down overnight, especially by the invisible mechanisms of power. In the Centre’s foyer, Tyler Coburn addresses forms of labour and examines the notion of writing in the 21st century by engaging with complexities of our legal, technological, and geopolitical networks, while Heman Chong analyses motifs of exchange and its boundaries, embracing the space of inter-human connections.

Unfolding in the exhibition space, Cally Spooner brings to Singapore an exercise in building new vocabulary and knowledge through bodily means. Using the space as a laboratory, the work investigates new ways of organising and working together. Alexandra Pirici’s choreography explores the possibility of collectively assembling memories of human and non-human presence on the planet. Carlos Casas presents his long-term multi-format ethnographic research based on the human ecology and richness of one of the world’s highest inhabited villages, Hichigh, located in the Pamir mountain range in Tajikistan. Together with composer Phill Niblock, they will create an audio-visual experience, traversing landscape, soundscape, and contemporary music that changes with every iteration.

In response to the five-year anniversary and by taking the topic of its celebration Free Jazz literally, Ming Wong will stage an improvisational performance. Similarly, Boris Nieslony (Germany), Co-founder of the artist collective Black Market International, will engage with pioneering Singaporean artist Lee Wen with a discussion and performance.

Further probing conventional formats, the accompanying programmes include readings by curator Anca Rujoiu (Romania/Singapore) and poets Peter Sipeli and 1angrynative (both Fiji), as well as Behind the Scenes conversations with contributing artists. In The Single Screen, works by Anton Ginzburg (Russia/United States), Mariana Silva (Portugal/United States), Luke Fowler (United Kingdom), Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra (both Philippines/Australia), and others, will add a filmic perspective to the dialogue.

This multitude of celebratory events instigates an active engagement with the now, following a conscious desire to become truly present.

Curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, and Magdalena Magiera, Curator, Outreach and Education, NTU CCA Singapore.

Stagings. Soundings. Readings. Free Jazz II public programmes

Peter Daniel Sipeli is passionate about storytelling because he believes that stories humanise people by showing that we all face the same choices, struggles, and triumphs. A well-known spoken word artist, he was instrumental in the revitalisation of the Fiji SLAM in Suva. He founded the Poetryshop Fiji to fill a development gap for new and emerging local writers, as well as the only online Pacific islands arts magazine ARTalk. Having worked for 10 years with NGOs as a human rights and LGBTQ activist, he has also worked in the Fiji Arts Council and in the Dean’s Office at the Fiji School of Medicine. Additionally, he managed the popularised ROC Sunday street market.

The Making of an Institution captures different moments in the development of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore) connecting artistic projects, discursive manifestations, and the institutional apparatus in a seamless display. It looks back into its young past in order to shape its future. Challenging the format of an exhibition, The Making of an Institution creates a communal space where projects and research explorations by the Centre’s Artists-, Curators-in- Residence, and Research Fellows coexist with ongoing series of talks, screenings, performances, and workshops. The project engages the Centre’s main pillars–Exhibitions, Residencies, Research and Academic Education – bringing to a close the overarching curatorial narrative Place.Labour.Capital. that served as a framework for its activities since 2013.

Established in 2013, the Centre embodies the complexity of a contemporary art institution in times of knowledge economy and global art. The role of a contemporary art institution should not be limited to the presentation of art. It feeds off and nurtures the cultural ecosystem it belongs to through a complex series of actions that often reside in the realm of the immaterial. The Centre’s inaugural programme Free Jazz addressed the foundational question “What can this institution be?” highlighting the skill of improvisation and free play. Three years later, different questions are to be raised: What could the role of the NTU CCA Singapore be for the years to come within a fast changing local, regional, and global cultural landscape? What are the criteria to evaluate its achievements and impact?

In revisiting its own process of institutional building, NTU CCA Singapore appropriates the format and language of a “public report”. While a public report is conventionally employed to deliver an official written narrative, the Centre’s report unfolds in the exhibition space through the languages of the performative, the discursive, and the archival.

“It’s amazing how far we were able to come in just three years,” said Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore. “The Making of an Institution is a celebration of the international community we have built, including scholars, artists, and the public. Now it is time for us to reflect and analyse our achievements before the exciting next steps ahead.”

The Making of an Institution is divided into four sections borrowed from the structure of a public report: Reason to Exist: The Director’s Review; Ownership, Development, and Aspirations; Artistic Research; and Communication and Mediation. The first section, Reason to Exist: The Director’s Review maps out a network of institutions, like NTU CCA Singapore, that place research at the core of their identity. Each guest director will closely examine the vision, mission, and operative model of her respective organisation in a series of talks aimed at deepening our understanding of the changing role of contemporary cultural institutions. Ownership, Development, and Aspirations is a public panel with several members of the NTU CCA Singapore’s International Advisory Board and its stakeholders representatives that stresses the importance of feedback and exchange among peers especially in the development phase of an institution. The section dedicated to Artistic Research frames the material and immaterial aspects that constitute contemporary art practices. It takes over the Centre’s physical Spaces of the Curatorial—The Exhibition Hall, The Single Screen, The Lab, and The Vitrine—juxtaposing artworks and research projects by NTU CCA Singapore’s Artists-, Curators-in- Residence, and Research Fellows alongside various formats of public programming. Finally, Communication and Mediation explores the production of an institution’s identity through visual communication and spatial practices. Through workshops and presentations, artists, architects, and designers will discuss how they create diverse visual and spatial identities for art institutions.

The public report will culminate into a book planned for publication in mid-2017, gathering the voices of all the artists, curators, researchers, and academics who have contributed to this first phase of the Centre. The Making of an Institution is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, Anna Lovecchio, Curator, Residencies, and Anca Rujoiu, Manager, Publications.

The Making of an Institution public programmes