Jompet Kuswidananto has long been interested in matters related to the spaces in between the binary oppositions within society. In his previous series, the intersections of past and present, tradition and modernity, magical and mechanical, memory and projections of the future formed the dominant narrative in the presentation of his work. While in residence Kuswidananto will continue to research how voices are valued, performed and spectated, in Indonesia and beyond.
Everything begins from small steps. That was the first thing that came through History of Merchant, a solo exhibition of Husein’s work in 2012. A small-intimate approach to his family journeys, from Hadramaut, in Middle East to South East in Indonesia. By collecting, archiving, and listening to the elders stories, the work started to build a strong foundation that led him to one project and then another project. Since that, he started to further seek and question Arabic descendants in Indonesia. The ideas go across the border between art, politics, economy, and also science. What did they do? Why are they doing that? How do they live and adapt? How they see themselves now? As Arabic-Indonesian or Indonesian-Arabic? These questions about identity, adaptation, survival, daily life culture, and also originality are evoked. While doing research for that project, Husein found stories about the transition, from Hyderabad to Singapore. These descendants were supposed to go directly to Indonesia through the Malaya Peninsula but stopped and stayed in Singapore for two years due to the critical situation that happen between British and the Dutch thus it has been said, to have developed a new community. This is the point of entry into Husein’s research for the NTU CCA Residencies Programme. The topic is simplified into three aspects: Identity, Transition, and Journeys. By using those as the main core Husein will explore the story of Arabic society in Singapore, seeking artefact and archives through the stories from the citizens.
Hamra Abbas has a versatile artistic practice that straddles a wide range of media, from paper collage and painting to ephemeral soft plasticine sculpture and video. Her works often take a humorous look towards widely accepted traditions, appropriating culturally loaded imagery and religious iconography and transforming them into new works that are experienced in space and time.
Abbas takes various cultural references and recontextualises them using appropriated artistic techniques. For her residency she is learning the courtly Chinese painting style of Gongbi and conducting portrait studies of her various interactions of people in the lively inner city suburb of Little India in Singapore.
The artistic practice of Arin Rungjang (b. 1974, Thailand) is deeply intertwined with Southeast Asian histories, symbols, memories and addresses the ways in which social and economic transformations affect individuals‚ lives. Exploring power relations embedded in traditional practices and daily objects, he creates works that stand on the threshold between the public and the private and recast collective histories through personal narratives. Regarded as a pioneer of installation art in Thailand, his work spans across different media and often engage collaborative practice. Arin Rungjang has recently received a solo exhibition at the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok, Thailand (2015). He has participated to the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2012), the Bandung Pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2012) and the Asia Triennial, Manchester, United Kingdom (2011). He represented Thailand at the 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2015).
Between October and November 2016, Rungjang was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore, where he focused on unofficial stories that circulate by word of mouth while connecting them to the politics of governance and notions of historical truth. During his residency, Rungjang conducted an interview with Johnston, who offered a poignant account of the difficulties of growing up as an albino man in Singapore. Based on an agreement with him, the artist decided to limit the work to a fully washed-out still from the recording, a symbolic indication of how such narratives circulate at the margins of visibility.
By disclosing rarely-seen preparatory drawings, sketches, and embroidery tests from the artist’s archive, Loose Leaves offers an intimate foray into the process of making Listen to my words (2018). An immersive installation by Dana Awartani, Listen to my words combines hand-embroidered silk panels and recordings of Arabic poems recited by modern-day Saudi women to confront issues of silencing, invisibility, and gendered divisions of space deeply entrenched in the cultural fabric of the Middle East.
Drawn from the significant but scarcely documented tradition of female poets in the Arab world from the pre-Islamic era to the 12th century, the poems selected by the artist express feelings of love, yearning, and pride. They relay modes of awareness, stances of resistance, and acts of empowerment often centred on the female body.
The distinct visual language articulated by the geometric patterns—bearers of sacred values in Islamic culture—references the ornamental motifs found on jali (or mashrabiya), lattice screens used in traditional Islamic architecture to control the circulation of air and light as well as to shield women from the male gaze.
Presented alongside the original audio recording, Loose Leaves layers a selection of preparatory studies in the enclosed space of The Vitrine to provide a glimpse of the subtle negotiations that inform Awartani’s creative journey across different techniques and materials.