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Interview with Independent Curator, Artist and Writer Jason Wee

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Interview with Independent Curator, Artist and Writer Jason Wee

Re/call/Re/form/Re/master, a group exhibition of Southeast Asian artists curated by Jason Wee taking place at Silverlens Gallery, Gillman Barracks from September 12 to October 12, 2014. 

The exhibition explores the ways in which creative reuse and modes of material transfer produces a frisson of unexpected meaning and a tingle of strong emotion. The exhibition looks specifically at three processes: the syneasthetic recollection of one sensation (sound) that is provoked by an experience of a different sensation (sight); the transformation of found material into new physical form; and the transfer of ideas and information from one material substrate to another.  These dynamic material transformations are analogous to the fluid conturbations that we witness in contemporary art practices.

The artists in this exhibition work in a variety of media such as sound, performance, moving image, photography and installation. They are Bani Haykal (Singapore, b. 1985), Nipan Oranniwesna (Thailand, b. 1962), Prilla Tania (Indonesia, b. 1979), Vanessa Ban (Singapore, b. 1989) and Vincent Leong (Malaysia, b. 1979).

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BANI HAYKAL The Americans have colonised our subconscious, 2014

What was your background and how did you end up as a curator?

Oh, I still shy away from calling myself a curator, and still understand myself as an artist and a writer, and the latter is where I’d premise my work, where exhibitions becomes occasions for writing. And as proof of this, I remain one of those who are drawn to notions of independent curating, where ‘independence’ is compatible with ‘unschooled’. And that’s really how I begin, as an untrained, bad curator. 

What kind of artists or practices are you drawn to? Was this something you kept in mind or tried to move away from in this show?

There are some ideas about the ecology of things, and how things relate to one another quite apart from us, that I’ve been thinking about. And working with Lucy Davis on her show at the NUS Museum has given me another opportunity to think these through. I followed one strand of that idea without worrying immediately about the limits of national borders or place of birth, and Silverlens was game to be my partner in this.

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NIPAN ORANNIWESNA Monument in progress 2013

Did Silverlens Gallery play a role with the selection of artists, and how did this collaboration come about?

Isa Lorenzo really left me to do my work, and I am sure there are many moments where the gallery must have wondered if it’s actually coming together! But I really appreciate the freedom to work this way. I am most keen on artists who I think can speak alongside what I will say in the exhibition essay, and have sufficiently dense connections to the works in the same space as them. The space also has its specificities, its size, no fully enclosed room, and so on, so that influenced my decisions too. I was also looking for a new home for my photo-based works after Valentine closed his gallery, and Silverlens will be showing some new photo works of mine in January.

With this show, what do you hope to convey to audiences about Southeast Asian artists? Are there any similarities or dissimilarities amongst artists from different parts of the region?

I don’t have a lot to say about Southeast Asia that does not repeat platitudes about it, and I am working with Kathleen Ditzig, a young curator, on developing writing about the development of this idea of a coherent ‘Southeast Asia’ that we seem to take for granted, looking at Cold War alignments for example between Africa and Asia.  So maybe I’ll just say that, that we think we know what we talk about when we talk about Southeast Asia. Maybe it’s time to locate Southeast Asia on something else other than geopolitical categories or national social histories.

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VINCENT LEONG Socketron 2008

Lastly, do you have any projects on the horizon?

I am a Writer-in-Residence at NUS-Arts House for the rest of the year, and I will have a poetry manuscript to complete by January. Also preparing to show work next year in Berlin. But I am currently in New York for my opening with Sundaram Tagore, who is showing my new paintings. It’s a relief not to be responsible for the whole show, I can chill and drink my beer and talk to my friends!

Re/call/Re/form/Re/master opens from 12 September to 12 October 2014. 

Silverlens Gallery is at Gillman Barracks, 47 Malan Road, #01-25, Singapore.

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Rapid Fire Quiz!

What is your favourite place to see art?

Wherever my friends are showing me their work

Do you have a museum or gallery-going routine?

Yes. I get dressed first. Otherwise I might shock people more than I need to.

What’s your favourite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?

Wherever they have milk stout on tap or a floral cider.

Do you collect anything?

Notches on my bedpost.

What’s the last artwork you purchased?

A photograph by Jovian Lim.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

The yet-unseen classified materials on Operation Coldstore and Operation Spectrum. There’s an art work in there, I’m sure of it.  

What would you do to get it?

Ask like I do now?

What’s your art world peeve?

Where are the toilets?

What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?

I think more people should read Yeow Kai Chai’s poetry.

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NIPAN ORANNIWESNA Vichitvathakan 2014

Jason Wee is an artist and a writer.

His art practice is concerned with the hollowing out of singular authority in favour of conundrums and polyphony. He transforms these singular architectures, histories and spaces into various visual and written materials.

He runs Grey Projects, an artists’ space and residency in Tiong Bahru. He is a graduate of The New School and Harvard GSD. 

He is the author of Tongues (2012), a commission by the Singapore Fringe Festival. His latest poetry book The Monsters Between Us was named by TODAY newspaper as one of the top art picks of 2013.

 

 


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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