New Exhibition: Of Indeterminate Time Or Occurrence by Heman Chong

The Artling caught up with artist Heman Chong, Singapore’s very own enfant terrible and gallerist Stephanie Fong at the recent opening of Of Indeterminate Time Or Occurrence at FOST Gallery. The exhibition contains four different works highlighting Heman’s practice, which provides a way of understanding relationships between image and text, examining how one is intrinsically linked to the other in his idiosyncratic manner of generating fictional narratives. This exhibition features 66 new paintings from the Cover (Versions), and our personal favourite, the new neoon work Never (Again). Catch the show before it ends on 4 May 2014.

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Installation by Heman Chong at Fost Gallery.

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Review: Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes

Although it’s been a long time since artists started exploring the possibilities of sound, sound art has long had something of a marginal character, owing to a certain definitional slipperiness, readily overlapping with fields like music and performance art. That may be beginning to change, though, with 2010 seeing the first Turner prize awarded to a work of sound art. Here in Singapore, Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes, curated by Bani Haykal and Joleen Loh, showcases some of the most fascinating examples of sound art from the past few years, bringing together a diverse group of seventeen artists, each approaching sound from their unique perspective.

(Dennis Tan, Perpusila, 12-channel sound installation, loudspeakers, cables, amplifier, variable dimensions, 2008)

As befits a major survey of sound art in Singapore, there’s an archive available for perusal – Mark Wong’s Finding Sound. It brings together numerous fragments and artifacts of Singapore’s aural history, ranging from video interviews to newspaper clippings and cassette tapes, each annotated by the artist. Rather than presenting a potted chronology of the subject, establishing clear lines of descent from early to contemporary sound art, Finding Sound offers a richly textured look into the complicated interconnections which gave rise to (and now characterise) sound in Singapore. It’s more concerned with sound in art, rather than sound art per se; here, sound art’s blurred boundaries overlap and exchange influences with performance art, underground rock and experimental music, amongst others.

Not only does sound have a distinct bent towards the interdisciplinary, it also lends itself well to a variety of presentations, and modes of experience. Much of the show is divided into listening stations and sound scores. The former offers an altogether individual listening experience, with each recording neatly enclosed by headphones. Fittingly enough, the listening stations themselves, orderly ranks of blank little plinths, are visually indistinguishable from each other – there’s no telling what you’ll be getting into, whether harsh noise, delicate instrumentals, or ambient field recordings. Of course, you could always refer to the gallery layout plan, but where’s the fun in that?

If the word ‘score’ brings to mind neatly ruled sheets of paper with sensible arrangements of musical notes, the selection here ought to be more than enough to challenge the limits of that convention. For instance, Brian O’Reilly’s Linear Element resembles a sketch of some urban environment – perhaps shophouses, while Zai Tang’s Respect II (Bukit Brown Cemetery I), in ink and graphite, offers a gestural, expressive interpretation of the ambient sounds of that soon-to-be highway, which you can hear with the turntable provided.

In addition to the scores and listening posts, the show also features other situations and experiences of listening; the first you might encounter is Ang Song-Ming’s No Man’s Band, situated just outside the gallery’s doors. Drawn from recordings of rehearsals of Bowen Secondary School’s brass band rehearsals, the serendipitous discontinuities and dissonances of rehearsal seems to form a suitable contrast to the structured environment of Singapore’s secondary schools, while also suggesting the exploratory character of the show as a whole.

(Mohamad Riduan, Hijrah (detail), presented at Bridge: Dari Utara ke Selatan (Bridge: From North to South), Jendela, Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, mixed media installation, dimensions variable, 2013. Photo: Muhamad Wafa)

Like the transient, ephemeral nature of sound, the show itself isn’t static, featuring a programme of changing installations and live performances. The current temporary installation, Mohamad Riduan’s Hijrah atau Jihad, centres on row after row of simple motor-driven stringed instruments, controlled by a panel bristling with switches, powered by small photo-voltaic cells. The installation adds a layer of interactivity to the exhibition, enjoining the viewer to participate in modifying and composing the aural environment of the gallery.

Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes runs from 7 February to 16 March 2014 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10am to 6pm. Admission 

This article is written by Bruce Quek.

Everything you need to know about Art Fairs (but are too afraid to ask)

Does the mere thought of navigating your way through a huge art fair give you a headache, like the idea of working through Christmas shopping crowds over lunch? Well fear not, this article presents a handy guide, simple pointers to answer all your questions (yes even the silliest ones), so you’ll know what to see, where to go and what to expect.

 imageArt Stage Singapore 2013 (Courtesy Art Stage Singapore)

What is an art fair?

At the basic fundamental level, an art fair is a trade show – this is a place for people in the art business to come together and make deals. Such activity involves and attracts galleries, dealers, advisors, collectors and curators, museum directors, artists and cultural enthusiasts.

Art Fairs are huge, crowded and confusing. How do I make sense of it?

I admit, sometimes a big international fair like Art Basel Hong Kong or Frieze in London feels a bit like an art zoo or circus, and honestly that’s why it’s so much fun. You get to see the craziest, most outrageous and occasionally some of the best art made in contemporary times. For tips on how to survive an art fair, refer to my other post “Top 5 Tips to Enjoy an Art Fair”. To be honest, it’s no different from visiting a great art museum, treat the never-ending aisles as museum spaces and soon you’ll get the hang of it.

What else is happening besides the fair?

Plenty is going on within the fair grounds, usually there are guided tours and outreach programmes (talks, panel discussions, forums). Beyond the exhibition venues, there are private events, pop-ups, shuttle services, museum shows, exhibition openings and plenty of parties!  For more info on what’s happening during Art Week, check out www.artweek.sg  or pick up your free copy of the Art Week Guide with I-S Magazine.

Do I need to buy a special ticket? How do I get a VIP pass?

 The fair is open to public on most days; you can purchase a ticket at the counter and enjoy family discounts (where applicable).

 If you are a regular client who buys art, or somebody who knows somebody who does, or maybe your company decided to sponsor the event - you may get your hands on a VIP pass. There are certainly privileges to enjoy - you get to attend the Vernissage evening, preview hours (before it opens to public) or attend special VIP events with free booze!

In a nutshell, a VIP card gives you Exclusivity and Access, something that separates the art elite from the ‘peasants’ (no offense!)

What does ‘Vernissage’ mean?

This is a hoity poity name for a VIP opening, comes from the French word for “vanishing” and originated in a practice that London’s Royal Academy of Arts instituted in 1809 of reserving the day before a show’s official opening for artists to come in and add a final layer of varnish to their paintings – and allowing art professionals to preview the works at the same time.

Art Stage Singapore 2014 Set For Jan 16-19Indonesian Pavilion at Art Stage 2013 (Courtesy Blouin Artinfo)

Can I see everything in 2 hours?

The answer is NO, and if you can, it means you’re not looking hard enough. The best way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to PLAN AHEAD. Study the art fair guide, mark out the artists or galleries you want to visit and draw out the route on the fair map. 

What do the different coloured dots mean? And why do I keep seeing similar things in different art fairs?

The dealer will place red or orange dots next to works to indicate that they have been sold.  Sometimes, different galleries will use other colours such as yellow or green to indicate that the works are ‘put on hold or reserved’, this means the works are still available or under negotiation.

 Trending is a phenomenon that hasn’t escaped the art market. At any given moment, there will be a handful of artists who enjoy the spotlight in the art world; we call them the ‘market darlings’ – and this could be attributed to an exceptional museum show, exhibition, gallery show, biennale work or record auction sale that has set the art world abuzz. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of these artists, and dealers are scrambling to put that artist work on their stands.

What is a reserve? Can I approach a gallery about buying art, even if I don’t intend to? Can I ask for a discount?

 The first and last days of an art fair are typically the busiest as the galleries are frantically closing deals. Unless you are serious about buying something, best to approach the gallery during the rest of the days. Some collectors argue that galleries may give a friendlier price on the last day, but it does not guarantee that the work you like is still available! If it is a work by a popular artist, I would advise to move quickly, snap it up while it’s hot!

 Putting something on ‘reserve’ is a similar idea to booking a table at a restaurant, but it does denote a semi-commitment on your end. Depending on the popularity of the work, the more desirable it is in the market, the shorter the reserve time. Generally dealers will give you a couple of days to decide but if a more aggressive client comes knocking, the work could go to the next person in line if you take too long to respond.

 The good news is, asking for discounts at an art fair is not unusual practice. Ironically, if you are a high-end, established and experienced collector, you may enjoy favourable discounts from galleries, who are keen to place their artist in your collection. If you are a new collector starting out, you still may get to enjoy discounts but not as significant as the veteran collectors. Public institutions like museums are also likely to receive a discount, because it is in the gallery’s interest to place their artists’ work in major, visible, public collections that will ultimately raise the artist’s profile and perceived market value over time.

What’s next?

Now you’re ready to embrace the Art Fair experience – remember to wear comfy shoes, plan your route, grab a bite, take lots of pictures and have fun! Follow these steps and I promise you’ll be far from fair-tigue! 

This article is written by Ning Chong.

Top 5 tips to Enjoy Art Stage 2014

image(Courtesy Art Stage Singapore)

Come 16 – 19th January 2014, Lorenzo Rudolf and team will be launching the 4th edition of the international contemporary art fair Art Stage, at MBS Convention Hall. The tagline “We Are Asia” sums up the fair’s focus with at least 50% of the galleries from Asia (Asia Pacific and South East Asia).

This year, a new exhibition format will be introduced – besides the conventional booths, Art Stage presents 8 specially Curated Platform sections, neatly categorized by country or region and Singapore will be part of the Southeast Asian Platform. For more details, do have a look at the website:

http://www.artstagesingapore.com/visitors/fair-guide/

If you’ve never heard of Art Stage Singapore, don’t fret – the next few posts will be your personal 101 Guide on how to tackle an art fair. Not for the faint hearted.

Set Aside Time

Art Stage will take up at least 2 halls in the basement of MBS Convention hall, don’t try to cover it all in 2 hours – I guarantee you it’s not possible. If you can, it means you’re not looking hard enough!

Personally, I would set aside one whole day or at least 2 half days to visit and see the art alone. Chances are you might bump into friends, stop for a coffee at the café, or make enquiries with the galleries or artists.

Is There a Dress Code?

If you are lucky to be invited to attend the Vernissage event, I’d say bring out your Jimmy Choo’s and Christian Louboutin’s. Otherwise, I’d advise you to wear comfortable walking shoes, your feet will thank me for it - trust me. Having said that, Crocs and slippers are a major no-no.

What Can I Expect?

It can be overwhelming for first-time fair-goers (I remember my first experience at Frieze in 2006, felt like a furry Hobbit, surrounded by the rich and beautiful of the international glitterati jet-setter tribe).  

Don’t feel compelled to look at every single work, just wander around and see what catches your eye. Remember to Keep an Open Mind, Look Look Look and Keep Looking and Ask Questions (you don’t have to sound smart, what’s the worst that could happen?)

 image'Faith of Mountain' and 'Faith of Cow' by Budi Kurstato, one of the Indonesian artists who will be exhibiting at the Indonesian Pavilion this year. (Courtesy Art Stage Singapore)

How to Approach A Gallery

It may seem intimidating, but the gallery staff are there to help and guide you. Some may appear snotty, but most are generally helpful and happy to answer your questions. These are the best persons to approach, as they would know their artists intimately, can provide more context and information about their art practice and works, and of course prices.

If the gallery is in the middle of negotiating a sale with a client, it’ll be wise not to interrupt! Unless you are eyeing the same work to hang in your office, then let the bidding war begin! 

I’ll Take It!

If you are interested in a particular work, best to do some background research on the artist and the medium or material construct of the work. Where is the artist in terms of his/her professional development? Emerging, mid-career, established? What is the work made of, is it an oil painting, a collage, a 3D object or installation? Is the work in pristine condition? Is it a primary work or has it been bought and sold before? These are questions to ask and think about, as it also affects the price and valuation of the artist’s works.

Questions you should ask yourself - am I committed to be the guardian of this artwork, and what are the considerations looking after it in the long run i.e. insurance, storage, and maintenance? If you can answer these basic simple questions, and it’s a resounding YES – then go for it!

This article is written by Ning Chong.