Interview With June Yap, Guggenheim UBS Map Curator, South and Southeast Asia
In spring 2012, a committee of five esteemed experts in South and Southeast Asian art nominated candidates from which Singaporean curator June Yap was selected as the first curator appointed in the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Ms. Yap has been an independent curator since 2008, working with artists throughout the region. In 2011, she organized an exhibition of the work of Ho Tzu Nyen for the Singapore Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. In 2010, Ms. Yap curated You and I, We’ve Never Been so Far Apart: Works From Asia for the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv for the International Video Art Biennial.
How did you end up in the art world?
A wandering, but probably inevitable, route. It still surprises me some days, in a pleasant way.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Context. But it is exactly what makes an artwork captivating, and what I hope to share with exhibition audiences.
Do you have a museum- or gallery-going routine?
Not really, though I do take note of exhibitions I cannot miss and strive to see them before they are over.
Do you collect anything?
A few artworks by emerging artists within my capacity.
What work of art do you wish you owned?
Hemali Bhuta’s ‘Inversion…Inverted… Eureka!’ (2012). It’s made from feric alum, and is a cast of a bathtub. Alum is in general used for its medicinal characteristics, and to purify water, as well as in cleansing rituals. The sculptural work is solid, but alludes to metamorphosis, fluidity and dissolution. It is simple in encounter, but an example of the practice of the artist, the adept manipulation of form and element. This, and many other artworks that are absolutely mesmerising.
What would you do to get it?
… I am afraid I have no clue.
What international art destination do you most want to visit?
The Johannesburg Biennale, though it seems I would have to time-travel.
What’s the last great book you read?
Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, an immersive read, combining history and futuristic and fictional projection. I’ve savoured Stephenson’s books since the first taste - Snow Crash - an eon ago…
What is your personal life philosophy?
I’m not so sure about life philosophy, but art certainly enriches life.