Against Singapore’s persistent acceleration towards the future through redevelopment and modernisation, the artist is interested in the way certain memories are kept while others are discarded. From her point of view, “the past is more than objects waiting to be discovered; it is a series of perspectives waiting to be unearthed”.​ Investigating the present with the tools of archaeology, she plans to explore the physical sediments of contemporary life through a series of participatory sessions aimed at making, archiving, and combining fragments of the present into new scenarios, perspectives, and meanings.

In this episode, curator Samantha Yap digs deep into the practice of Artist-in-Residence Fazleen Karlan. We are happy to bring the two of them back together, after they first collaborated a couple of year ago on an exhibition titled Time Passes (2020-21), to talk about Fazleen’s evolving artistic sensibility and sources of inspiration.

In this circular conversation that revolves around a shared reading, the novel Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson, Fazleen and Samantha exchange memories, experiences, and thoughts about time, materiality, pop culture, and the vitality of archaeology in Fazleen’s work. And they do so with that special kind of fluid intimacy that interlaces persons of the same age. Just a few words to introduce them.

The practice of Fazleen Karlan weaves together art-making and archaeology to explore matters of time by mapping and reframing physical remains found within the landscape and socio-historical context of Singapore. By engaging the stratifications of a site and by reassessing the chronology of everyday objects through the tools of archaeology, her work generates news records of contemporary life that cast the relation between past, present, and future into a speculative framework.

Shuffling between writing and curation, Samantha Yap nurtures her interests in forms of reciprocity, the ethics of care, love, vulnerability as well as an ongoing exploration of feminist perspectives across literature and visual culture. She has curated a number of exhibitions in Singapore, including Time Passes, National Gallery Singapore (2020) which marked her first collaboration with Fazleen Karlan. Her curatorial texts are featured in several exhibition catalogues and her creative writing is included in My Lot is a Sky (Math Paper Press, 2018), an anthology of poetry by Asian women. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Art History from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. 

Contributors: Fazleen Karlan, Samantha Yap
Editor: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Nadia Amalina
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon
Intro & Outro Music: Yuen Chee Wai
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan

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Against the developmental emphasis on order, cleanliness, and control, weeds are often singled out as plants that grow in the wrong place where they can flourish in spite of being unwanted. In their resistance against human impulses to control and manicure nature, weeds are regarded by the artist as a manifestation of the beauty and resilience of wilderness and chaos. By observing both the physiology and formal qualities of weeds, Chua plans to experiment with a variety of light-sensitive and other photographic techniques to capture their intricate beauty and frame their value for nature and society.

Artist-in-Residence Chua Chye Teck speaks to Dr Anna Lovecchio, Assistant Director, Programmes, in our fourth episode of AiRCAST. Follow Chye Teck’s stream of consciousness as he tells us about his journey with the medium of photography and his enduring fascination for fleeting forms and makeshift compositions. In recent years, Chye Teck is developing a more experimental attitude towards the image-making process creating works that respond to the specificity of a site, rather than to a subject matter, and reverberate with emotional vibrations. He has also become involved in several collaborations with other artists and he is cultivating a new fascination for cellphone images and the creative potential of readily available, off-the-shelf digital technologies.

The evocative and subtly layered works of Chua Chye Teck (b. 1974, Singapore) result from prolonged visual and experiential quests. His body of work draws attention to the discarded and the overlooked articulating a reflection on the multiple processes of disappearing that result from the impact of progress and development on the natural environment. His works have been exhibited in venues such as at Singapore Art Museum (2021), Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong (2020), Jendela Esplanade, Singapore (2018, 2015), Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore (2017), Chiang Mai University Art Centre, Thailand (2015), and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (2010).

Contributor: Chua Chye Teck 
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

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The evocative and subtly layered works of Chua Chye Teck (b. 1974, Singapore) result from prolonged visual and experiential quests. His body of work draws attention to the discarded and the overlooked articulating a reflection on the multiple processes of disappearing that result from the impact of progress and development on the natural environment. His works have been exhibited in venues such as at Singapore Art Museum (2021), Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong (2020), Jendela Esplanade, Singapore (2018, 2015), Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore (2017), Chiang Mai University Art Centre, Thailand (2015), and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (2010).

Building on the unique opportunity to explore wilderness within the urban context, Izat Arif’s research project aims to survey the topography, history, social memory, and natural environment of the patch of jungle located within the compound of Gillman Barracks. Provisionally titled Living Methods in City Jungle, this investigation is a continuation of an earlier project initiated in 2016 by the artist collective Malaysian Artists’ Intention Experiment (MAIX), of which the artist is a member. The group engaged in manifold activities including planting trees, collecting samples, and gathering information from the locals about traditional beliefs and practices in a tract of forest reserve situated in Perak, Northern Malaysia. Employing similar methodologies, he aims to conduct extensive fieldwork during the residency. The findings will materialise as drawings, photocollages, sound and video recordings, a tool cabinet, and they might potentially coalesce into a guidebook which mobilises both the familiar and the unfamiliar aspects of the territory.

During the residency, Monica Ursina Jäger will examine the shifting topography of Singapore and Southern Malaysia and how it changed over the last century by engaging with urban development, and architecture. Of particular interest is the relationship between built environments and natural landscapes in “the vertical shift” incurred in the notion of landscape. Looking at Singapore as a unique case study, her research aims to focus on and excavate histories related to the social, political and sensorial conversations between natural and built elements and to rethink ‘topography’ as a mental landscape, rather than as a form of visual representation.

In recent years, Claudia Losi’s artistic research has journeyed around the perception of places creating erratic configurations of language, memory, and imagination that unfold multiple layers of our subjective relationship to the world. For the artist, “being there” denotes a state of being located in the mind of the subject, in the memories and imagination related to a physical environment. These series of investigations coalesced into the publication How do I imagine being there?, realized in 2016 alongside an eponymous exhibition. Following the same train of thought, the research project for the residency is titled Being There or Life is a State of Mind, after the 1979 film by American director Hal Ashby. Losi intends to conduct a series of interviews with people from diverse disciplines, generations, and socioeconomic backgrounds asking them to describe a certain typology of place. Texts, drawings, and possibly a video will be created on the basis of the gathered materials.

Mapping memories by mobilising narratives, images, and sites has been a recurrent gesture for Boedi Widjaja in the last decade of his practice. Moving beyond cartographic representation, his approach to mapping embraces a multiplicity of angles—from phenomenological responses to archaeological dives into far-off times—through which he retraces our understanding of history and memory. During the residency, he will focus on Medang Kamulan (“Medang the origin” in Javanese), an ancestral site prominently embedded in Javanese collective memory. Believed to be located in Grobogan (Central Java), Medang Kamulan is a place of beginning, the mythical cradle of Javanese civilisation that appears in oral histories, epic literature, and countless legends. In harking back to this site of origin, the artist will speculate on how cultural kinships could be moulded by unhindered flows and unconstrained connections before the rise of colonialism and of the border politics of nation-states. This research is part of Path. (2012 – ongoing), a body of work revolving around migration, movement, and belonging that reframes our existence by recasting our relationship to the past.

Ari Wulu is a solo electronic music performer also known as midiJUNKIE or WVLV. He has been actively creating arrangements and performing since 1998, and his works have been presented at various events and festivals in Indonesia. Apart from his audio works, he is also the Program Director of SoundBoutique (2005–present), and Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival (2009–present), and was a member of the board of directors of Yogyakarta Art Festival (2013–18). Together with his collective, Jogjakarta Video Mapping Project (also known as JVMP, 2013–present), Ari Wulu organises SUMONAR, an annual video projection and interactive art festival in Yogyakarta (since 2018).

Lulu Lutfi Labibi studied textile craft in Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta (ISI Yogyakarta). In 2012, LULU LUTFI LABIBI was launched: a ready-to-wear fashion label that promotes the use of Indonesian traditional textiles such as lurik, tenun, and batik in a more up-to-date look. The technique of drapery became its own identity by forming the fabric directly onto the mannequin or living model, without creating many patterns. Apart from presenting his works at various local and international festivals, Lulu Lutfi Labibi collaborated with artists indieguerillas to present Petruk Jadi Supermodel at Artjog 2015, and with art collective Piramida Gerilya to present Warung Murakabi at Artjog 2019.

Emerging from an exhibition, conference, and festival that explored architect and urban theorist William S. W. Lim’s concept on “Incomplete Urbanism” and his call for “Cities for People,” this publication juxtaposes research essays, visual and textual documentation. Organised into three chapters — “The City as Living Room,” “The City as Multiple,” and “The City as Stage,” the contributions — by architects, scholars, planners, artists, activists, and curators —constitute a diverse set of analyses. Unexpected notions of planning, building, and living in Asian cities suggest multiple paths into critical spatial practice of Asian urban space. The volume positions Lim’s thoughts, concepts, and plans for action as that of a humanist who addresses the complex topography of an ever-changing urban Asia.

Contributors include: Laura Anderson Barbata, Jiat-Hwee Chang, Thanavi Chotpradit, Calvin Chua, Yvonne P. Doderer, Chomchon Fusinpaiboon, indieguerillas, Marc Glöde, Sacha Kagan, Lulu Lutfi Labibi, Magdalena Magiera, Laura Miotto, Marjetica Potrč, Pen Sereypagna, Shirley Surya, Sissel Tolaas, Etienne Turpin and Nashin Mahtani, John Wagner, H. Koon Wee, Woon Tien Wei, and Ari Wulu. Foreword by Nikos Papastergiadis. Afterword by William S. W. Lim.

The Impossibility of Mapping (Urban Asia)
Published by World Scientific Publishing
© 2018
ISBN: 978-981-121-192-8

To purchase your copy, please contact ntuccapublications@ntu.edu.sg