HAPPENING FROM 16 January to 25 January 2015, Art In Motion (AIM) is Singapore's first curated tour of various art galleries. As part of Singapore Art Week, the Art Galleries Association Singapore (AGAS) brings visitors to galleries and places that house different facets of the arts scene in Singapore.
The vibrancy of the arts scene in Singapore is indicative of the growing interest in the country's arts culture, which is a cause for optimism as we celebrate Singapore's golden jubilee this year. While we look forward to what the future can bring to the country, we also reconsider our past and present--the stories that we've been told. Merging both a reflection of the narratives we've been exposed to as well as the direction that the arts culture seems to be taking, we hear from a few local artists featured in AIM 2015: Ruben Pang, Dawn Ng; and from the group exhibition 当下 Now, Wee Kheng-Li, Chris Yap, Sai Hua Kuan and Wang Ruobing.
Narratives play a significant role in allowing people to relate to each other. When asked if the role of narratives is just as important in art, Ng responds, "Yes, aren't each of us just made up of a collection of stories? I think it is the most human and instinctive role of art to embody some form of narrative." Building onto her response, Wee views narrative as a way for people to create existential meaning, self, and identity. For some, such as Yap, the medium of photography in his creative expression imbibes narratives. However, for others, such as Sai and Wang, the narrative may not be as important a role in art, depending on the artist.
Artists are often asked about their sources of inspiration for their works, and a similar question was posed to the artists. The responses largely involved the artists' relationship with their environment--"everyday life" for Sai and Wang, "the world around [him]" for Yap, "bits and pieces of everything" for Ng, and "taking on the classic role of the flaneur" for Wee. There is an interrelation between the narratives of everyday life as well as the artists' environment, which may manifest in the works of the artists.
Apart from sources of inspiration, the works of artists' sometimes involve issues that they feel are important to examine. The issues may be shaped according to their environment, such as placing it in Singapore's context. Wang feels that artists should be open to all possibilities, the most important being that they are honest to the artist's own interests. For Ng, memory, time and identity are universal issues that are simultaneously personal to each individual. Similarly, Singapore's issues are also unique to herself. As for Wee, he deems it critical to consider the role of time and history as central to the human narrative and identity. In relation to Singapore's national narrative, the sense of being in an eternal dialogue between self and other, and exploring the visual poetics of liminality within building and dwelling, and time and history, have been critical in his reading of the dominant Singapore narrative.
There remains to be room for further development as Singapore's story in the arts scene continues to play out. A few ways in which the story could unfold includes Ng's opinion that an authentic community and dialogue among artists should be built. This comes alongside with a strong suport system of local private collectors and patrons. For Yap and Sai, time will allow the story to unravel, simply by waiting for it to do so.
Ms Vera Ong, president of Art Galleries Association (Singapore) and owner of Art-2 Gallery, opines that the development of Singapore Art Week 2015 proves to be one of the ways that arts and culture events can cater to the general public, art lovers and collectors. The annual Art In Motion event itself is a ground up initiative that celebrates the depth and diversity of contemporary arts and culture in Singapore in an accessible manner. In addition, engagement with the arts is AGAS’s focus. Interested visitors can sign up for the bus services at www.agas.org.sg.
Images courtesy of Art In Motion 2015