BEFORE TRAVELLING THROUGH TIME with local artist Malvina Tan, please brace yourselves for sudden bolts of random, insane whirls of thoughts. While the massive amount of artistic ideas come crashing at you, please bear in mind these three words: nostalgic, experiential and ever-changing, the best words to describe Malvina and her performance art.
Drawing heavily from the eighties, Malvina incorporates a touch of the past into her works. One thing that is strikingly essential to her is her memory. Most of the subject matter in her art is inspired by personal life experiences and her obsession in preserving the memory of these experiences. After all, Malvina is striving for the best to be revealed in every piece of her work.
To transform the intangibility of a memory into something tangible
Naturally, immersion follows emotional connection to one’s personal memories. Malvina enjoys immersive works and seeks for an overall artistic experience in the works that she creates. This is one of the reasons why Malvina decided to enter the realm of performance art. Thankfully, her audience is mostly open to healthy discussions about the origins and practice of performance art. She added that “the beauty to performance art is that it’s open, and it allows for a variety of interpretations.”
When asked about Singaporeans’ receptiveness towards performance art and its practices, Malvina says that it is hopeful and encouraging. This is especially true “whenever the audiences are from a different pool instead of just fellow artists or art lovers.” When they are invited to be part of the performance, their willingness to participate and interact with Malvina shows. She ended with a warm-hearted response by saying “even parents and their children were intrigued by my performance.”
If it allows an opportunity for my work to be brought to a different level, I am definitely there.
Nevertheless, there are always obstacles that are bound to appear. When Malvina decided to embrace the challenges that crossed her path, she knew that she had to step out of her comfort zone and face them. One of her main challenges faced while performing in a public space is placing herself in an extremely vulnerable position. “The audiences, who are allowed to interact with me during the performance, are able to do almost anything they like to me, to my body.” Malvina further explains that this happens when the boundary between the audience and a performer is blurred.
Being an artist who also produces mixed media works and videos, Malvina admits that working with different mediums and in diverse environments also contributes to the varied problems she encounters. Instances include getting her work “destroyed and vandalized by the public” and the “painful process of editing“ her videos.
Performance art is no publicity stunt or a prank. Appropriately conceived ideas go behind ever performance art piece.
However, to Malvina, both positive and negative feedbacks are gladly welcomed as they allow her ideas to be more grounded.
In Recipe, FETTERFIELD 2012, cupcake holders filled with batter were offered to the curious onlookers. As told by Malvina, “some of the audience took the batter home; others even dipped their noses into the batter!”
Well, in the end, there is always a hearty takeaway from an insightful performance art like Malvina’s.