Through the wide-angle lens of her research-based methodology, the artist will traverse the symbolic mapping of this migrant diaspora’s socio-cultural realities emblazoned in official accounts. She will focus on issues of exploitation and gender exclusion and employ computer-generated imagery and postcolonial linguistics to devise new storytelling approaches that subvert the hegemony of colonial epistemologies and bring to the surface silenced narratives, particularly those of Tamizh women.

Thinking in terms of borders and boundaries, either physical and symbolic, the artist intends to map out the lived experience of forced mobility and dispossession as well as its underlying power struggles and emotional trails. His research will revolve specifically on migrant songs, a cultural expression often characterized by melancholic melodies and sombre lyrics that speaks of longing, hard work, and perseverance. Conveying the experience of otherness and stirring emotions of communality, migrant songs haunts our times of unprecedented global mass migration and the contemporary debates surrounding exclusionary nationalist politics. Through participatory workshops aimed at lyric writing, music composition, and vocalisation, migrant songs will be created and disseminated in an effort to redraw boundaries of belonging.

In our third episode, we open up this platform for the first time to a guest interviewer. We invited artist and filmmaker Kent Chan to pick the brain of our Artist-in-Residence Yeo Siew Hua. Beyond being both filmmakers and artists, Siew Hua and Kent have been occasional collaborators in the past and, most importantly, they are also long-time friends. Hear them speak candidly about the intertwined cycles of art-making and fund-raising, the blurred line between cinema and visual arts, as well as the philosophical underpinnings and the importance of collaboration in Siew Hua’s practice.  

The practice of Yeo Siew Hua (b. 1985, Singapore) spans film directing and screenwriting. His films probe the darkest side of contemporary society through narratives layered with mysterious atmospheres, inscrutable characters, and mythological references, all steeped in arresting visuals and sounds. His last feature film A Land Imagined (2018) harnessed recognition around the world receiving the Golden Leopard at the 71st Locarno Film Festival and the Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Music Score Awards at the 56th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. 

After A Land Imagined, Siew Hua has created a number of short films, one of which, An Invocation to the Earth (2020), commissioned by the Singapore International Film Festival and TBA21, was co-produced with NTU CCA Singapore. An Invocation to the Earth can be viewed online at www.stage.tba21.org. During the residency, Siew Hua has been completing his next major production titled The Once and Future, an expanded cinema project which will premiere at the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2022. In 2021, he received the Young Artist Award, Singapore’s highest award for young arts practitioners.

Kent Chan (b. 1984, Singapore) is an artist, curator, and filmmaker currently based in Amsterdam. His practice weaves encounters between art, fiction, and cinema with a particular interest in the tropical imagination, colonialism, and the relation between heat and art. He has held solo presentations at Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands (2020-21), National University Singapore Museum (2019-21) and SCCA-Ljubljana, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Slovenia (2017). He was Artist-in-Residence at Jan van Eyck Academie (2019-20) and at NTU CCA Singapore (2017-2018). 

Contributors: Yeo Siew Hua, Kent Chan 
Conducted by: Anna Lovecchio 
Programme Manager: Kristine Tan 
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon (The Music Parlour)
Intro & Outro Music: Tini Aliman 
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan

Credits:
06’42”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, A Land Imagined, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
11’46”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Obs: A Singapore Story, 2014. Courtesy the artist.
22’55”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Once and Future, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
40’49”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Lover, The Excess, The Ascetic and the Fool, 2021. Courtesy the artist.

[See Full Transcript]

Yeo Siew Hua’s (b. 1985, Singapore) practice spans film directing and screenwriting. His last feature film, A Land Imagined (2018) was awarded the Golden Leopard at the 71st Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland (2019) and selected as Singapore’s entry to the 92nd Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category, United States (2020). Extending beyond conventional cinema festivals and networks, Yeo’s films have also been shown at contemporary art venues including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, United States (2018), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Taipei, Taiwan (both 2018). He is co-founder of 13 Little Pictures, a vanguard film collective which organises experimental film labs around Southeast Asia.

Tangled with her own experience of migration, cultural collision, and displacement, the works of Sung Tieu often elicit a variety of sensorial engagements. During the residency, the artist plans to explore the sonic environment of Singapore guided by the following questions: What is the soundscape of a financial capital that trades mostly in abstract exchange rather than in material production? Who occupies public space and in what acoustic proportion? How do aural economies affect the multi-species inhabitants of the city on physical, psychological, and emotional levels? How does sound convey different political and environmental climates? Her investigation on the sounds of contemporary Singapore will also encompass instances of oral communication that operate in a multicultural context characterised by a large linguistic diversity. For this long-term project, Tieu intends to explore the acoustic ecology of several urban soundscapes, extending her research in Vietnam and, possibly, other Southeast Asian countries.

Jompet Kuswidananto is an artist. His works examine issues of colonialism, politics, power and mass mobilisation, and the notion of the state of transition in the context of post-reformation Indonesia. Between December 2015 and February 2016, Kuswidananto was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore. During the Residencies: OPEN, he presented Noda (2016), a site-specific intervention in his studio, a physical translation of “historical leaks” in Indonesia’s recent history that are breaking public silence and becoming visible.

The period between 1948 and 1960 witnessed the forced exodus of over 35,000 Malayan leftists to Southern China, including the artist’s own grandfather. Expanding on her long-term research project which excavates overlooked and contested histories of the Malayan anti-colonial war and her own family histories, Sim Chi Yin intends to trace the trajectories of the Malayan deportees, excavating both their individual experiences and the institutional circumstances which lead to their disappearance from collective memory. With the ports of Singapore being both sites of transit and origins of deportation, during the residency Sim will further her investigation through archival research and oral history interviews working towards the development of a new work. Often evoking a sense of spatial haunting, her aesthetic approach consistently slips away from the documentary into the realm of the affective, the imaginary, and the spectral.

Photographer and artist Sim Chi Yin (b. 1978, Singapore/United Kingdom) combines rigorous research with intimate storytelling to explore issues relating to history, memory, conflict, and migration. Recent solo exhibitions include One Day We‚ll Understand, Landskrona Foto Festival, Sweden (2020), One Day We‚ll Understand, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2019) andMost People Were Silent, Institute of Contemporary Arts,LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore (2018). Her work has also been included in group shows such asMost People Were Silent, Aesthetica Art Prize, York Art Gallery, United Kingdom (2019);UnAuthorised Medium, Framer Framed, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;Relics, Jendela (Visual Arts Space) Gallery, Esplanade, Singapore (both 2018); and the 15thIstanbul Biennial, Turkey (2017). Sim was commissioned as the Nobel Peace Prize photographer in 2017, nominated for the Vera List Center‚ Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice 2020 and shortlisted as a finalist for theTim Hetherington TrustVisionary Award 2020.

As part of her residency, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn will expand on The Archive as a Subject, a long-term project that positions photographs and other vernacular artefacts at the junction of the private and the public, as well as the personal and the political, raising complex global issues related to concepts of territory, migration, and identity. Looking at the traces of her own family’s history, she aims to explore the friction that is generated when such mundane items are appropriated by institutional narratives, especially when they are framed in different cultural contexts. While in Singapore, she intends to further her research looking specifically at the history of the refugee camp in Sembawang which housed Vietnamese refugees for twenty years.

Pelin Tan (b. 1974,Turkey) is a sociologist and art historian based in Mardin, Turkey. Assoc.Prof. at Architecture Faculty, Mardin Artuklu University and contributor of The Silent University (educational platform for/by refugees/migrants). Currently visiting Assoc.Prof. at School of Design, Hong Kong PolyU (2016). Fellow of ACT Program, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tan is a member of Art1kisler video collective. She is the Turkey curator of Actopolis project (Goethe Inst. Athens, 2015 ‚ 2017). Lead author of Towards New Urban Society– IPSP (Edts.Saskia Sassen&Edgar Pieterse, 2015 ‚ 2017). Tan participated in Lisbon Architecture Triennial (2013), Montreal Biennial (2014), Istanbul Biennial (2007, 2015), Oslo Architecture Triennial (2016), Cyprus Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennial (2016). Residencies: CCA Kitakyushu (2015), IASPIS (2008), GeoAir (2011).

Bui Cong Khanh is interested in studying historical flows of Chinese immigration across the Southeast Asian region, and Singapore in particular, by tracking down the movements of Chinese porcelain artifacts. His research intertwines the Chinese ancestry of the artist’s own family and traditional forms of Chinese cultural heritage, while concurrently addressing the complexities embedded in the construction of national identities. During his residency, he also plans to collaborate with local kilns and porcelain workshops.