An Interview with Chun Kai Qun, Founder of Independent Artist Project LATENT SPACES at Haw Par Villa
Chun Kai Qun is interested in the study of object biographies given our inadequate understanding of how they texture and inform human identity. He examines everyday objects as a reflection of personal tastes, attributes, moral principles and social ideals.
Chun Kai Qun received his Master of Fine Art from the renowned Glasgow School of Art. In 2011, Chun was awarded the prestigious NAC Arts Scholarship (Overseas) and he was also the recipient of the Arts Creation Fund in the same year. Chun has participated extensively in art exhibitions, residencies and collaborations. His work has been shown in Singapore Art Museum, National Museum of Singapore, Esplanade Concourse (Singapore), Esplanade Jendela (Singapore), Art Stage Singapore, Singapore Management University, FOST Gallery (Singapore), Valentine Willie Fine Art (Singapore), POST-Museum (Singapore), Gertrude Contemporary Art Centre (Melbourne), National Taipei University of Education (Taiwan) and The Glasgow School of Art (UK).
Chun Kai Qun, A Passed Life, Video stills, 2014
How did the idea of Latent Spaces come about? Please tell us a bit more about the people involved. And what do you hope to achieve?
LATENT SPACES came out about because I was looking for a venue for my solo exhibition. It was an exhibition about Haw Par Villa, so it seemed pretty apparent that it had to be shown there. The process of taking over the vacant Jade House at Haw Par Villa involved a fair bit of renovation on our part, so for such an endeavour to be worthwhile, the idea of setting up a space to also show other artists then evolved. The group includes me, my brother Chun Kai Feng who is also an artist and Elizabeth Gan, an arts educator.
We are actually uncertain how long we are able to stay in Haw Par Villa as it awaits redevelopment. However, LATENT SPACES is essentially a fluid model whereby we adopt idle spaces in Singapore and reinvent them as platforms for experimental art and social entrepreneurship. Haw Par Villa is a place of ambiguity, as several ventures had failed spectacularly, so it now bears a legacy of failures. However, that actually means there is nothing to lose for Haw Par Villa to be open to an experimental art project like LATENT SPACES.
Since April, we have had three exhibitions at our space. The artists who worked with us include Sai Hua Kuan, Jeremy Sharma, João Vasco Paiva, Ang Soon Koon and Darren Tesar. I have a lot of ideas for exhibitions and the space helps me to exorcise these urges, I guess my aim is to get to the point when I actually run out of ideas what to do with the space. Undoubtedly, there was never an intention for the space to build a legacy or to survive as long as possible just for the sake of it. But, it is also undeniable that creating an artist-run space at Haw Par Villa has given us legendary cult status.
Chun Kai Qun, A Passed Life, Video stills, 2014
Haw Par Villa was a popular local and tourist attraction in the ‘80s-'90s, am I right? What drew you to re-visit the site in 2013?
As a child, I did not visit Haw Par Villa. I guess, as a Singaporean, it was simply about time that I have to visit the place. But I was also suggested by a friend to research on the dioramas of Haw Par Villa because I was building some of my own.
People recognise you as an artist who works with different media. What compelled you to try your hand at curating projects? Do you see it as an extension of your main artistic practice?
I just wanted to try more things, not just in the realm of art, but life in general. Curating betters me as a generous person because I do take time away from my own work to help others present theirs. There are artists, whom I admire, but I just simply cannot do what they do, curating is a way for me to be involved with their works. I am not comfortable with the idea of a main practice, as it is probably due to the lack of ability to upkeep several interests at the same time, resulting in the need to choose one that you are really good at. I actually enjoy the impossibility to pin down what I am really good at.
How will this experience influence your future work? OR what other concepts do you explore through your artistic practice?
To be able to play many roles probably means I can find work in many places. As I am able to fall back on other interests, it leaves me open to question certain things I have done for many years. I do not have to hold onto an idea that has gone stale, as a better idea can take over.
Reflecting on your creative path, which artists have influenced you? What is your personal life philosophy?
Tang Da Wu who taught me while I was studying at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts made an everlasting impression on me. The humour of Glaswegian artists will continue to tickle me.
I do not like to owe anyone a living, when I make art I try to do everything within my means. My exhibitions are usually quite easy to install.
Chun Kai Qun, A Lifetime of Warranties,Installation2014
A Lifetime of Warranties by Chun Kai Qun runs 28th June-27th July at LATENT SPACES @ Haw Par Villa, 262 Pasir Panjang Road Singapore 118628
Gallery Opening Hours:
Thursday to Sunday, 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Monday to Wednesday, by appointment only