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Research & Experimentation: NTU CCA's Artists-In-Residence

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Research & Experimentation: NTU CCA's Artists-In-Residence
Studio of Richard Streitmatter-Tran, Residencies OPEN, 22 September 2017. Image courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore.

Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore) has done a lot to promote rigorous artistic research. Apart from curating exhibitions and hosting extensive public programmes, the centre also invites artists, curators, critics and scholars from Southeast Asia and beyond to participate in its studio-based Residencies programme. “Artists enter a time zone in which they can focus exclusively on research and [experimentation],” says curator Anna Lovecchio, “the obligation to constantly produce new works that has percolated deep into the contemporary art world is deliberately suspended.”

Hailing from different parts of the world, the current participants of NTU CCA Singapore’s Residencies programme include Sonya Lacey, Richard Streitmatter-Tran, Kartik Sood and Chun Kaifeng. From conceptual video work to whimsical sculptures, each of these artists brings a unique studio practice to the heart of Gillman Barracks, where the residencies take place.

 

1. Sonya Lacey

A flyaway page from a newspaper tumbles across the floor. The wind carries more pages into the frame of the black-and-white video. Before the viewer can glimpse the contents of these newsprints, they are swept off the screen, out of viewing range. Working across mediums such as video and installation, Sonya Lacey is interested in methods of communication—the extrapolation and transposition of ideas—most notably in the form of text and publishing. Lacey’s practice blurs the lines between reality and fiction, textual content and the materiality of publications.

Still from “Newspaper for Vignelli” by Sonya Lacey. 

Image courtesy of the artist. 

In Newspaper for Vignelli, Lacey recreated Massimo Vignelli’s rejected design for the European Journal 1978. As the Italian modernist’s designs are mostly nonexistent, Lacey developed original content based on imaginings of Vignelli’s proposal. The footage decontextualises the newspaper, and implores viewers to see it as an object rather than a text.

Page from “Ultra Vires” by Raphaela Rose, publication by lightreading.

Image courtesy of lightreading.

Lacey is also the co-creator of 'lightreading'—a collaborative project with Glasgow-based artist, Sarah Rose. Driven by publishing practices, 'lightreading' explores the acquisition of information as a sensory experience, not just a cerebral one. In Ultra Vires, 'lightreading' brought together a group of architects to design a fictional, progressive nightclub complex. The resulting publication is saturated with fantastical architectural images and texts on bright neon paper. Ultra Vires does not merely showcase designs of an idealistic nightclub; it encapsulates the experience of the space.

Page from “Ultra Vires” by Susana Torre, publication by lightreading.

Image courtesy of lightreading.

 

2. Richard Streitmatter-Tran

The smell of paint wafts through Richard Streitmatter-Tran’s studio space at Gillman Barracks. There is something deeply satisfying about seeing an artist’s studio covered from corner to corner with charcoal, paint and clay. Born in Vietnam, Streitmatter-Tran began his artistic training in new media and performance, a stark juxtaposition to the state of his current studio in Singapore. When asked about his change of media, Streitmatter-Tran explains that, in recent years, he has developed a deep appreciation for the history of materials and how artists have used them across time.

“Cami” (2017) by Richard Streitmatter-Tran.

Image courtesy of the artist.

Moving away from the immaterial, Streitmatter-Tran has dedicated himself to close observation and depiction of the human figure—an interest he has nurtured over the past few years. It is a slow process of experimentation and exploration, but one that he finds intensely satisfying. In his studio, a charcoal drawing of a female figure was taped to a wooden board; tables were covered with paints, brushes, and half-finished canvases. Near-complete clay sculptures awaited him on a different desk. Returning to an age-old subject matter, Streitmatter-Tran jumps in with both feet. More than interested in the human figure, he is concerned with exploring it through different media, from multiple perspectives.

“Scoliosis Suspended” (2017) by Richard Streitmatter-Tran.

Image courtesy of the artist.

Scoliosis Suspended is one of the earliest works that Streitmatter-Tran completed at NTU CCA Singapore. It was created using found wood and air-dry clay, and is part of his investigation into the structure of the human body. When asked if he knew where this series was taking him, Streitmatter-Tran shook his head and responded candidly, “I’m just over two weeks into my residency.” Glancing across his studio at the vast array of artworks, you couldn’t tell.

 

3. Kartik Sood

"Before humans invented theatre, we had inner vision," explained Kartik Sood. When you close your eyes to fall asleep, a different reality plays out in the dark spaces of your mind. Set in dimly-lit spaces, Sood's video installations transform the viewer's visual and spatial environment, and evoke the surreal experience of trying to recall a lost dream. 

“City of wandering spirits” (2015) by Kartik Sood.

Image courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore.

In City of wandering spirits, Sood displays a video projection on a circular hardboard. Miniature figures dressed in black dance on a flat plain enclosed by a forested landscape. The figures seem out of place, but there is nothing familiar about their environment as well. The displacement of the figures and the setting leaves viewers unsettled and enthralled. Composed of a mix of drawings, prints and recorded performances, the amalgamation of visual sources lends to the installation’s eerie dislocation and timelessness.

Studio of Kartik Sood, Residencies OPEN, 22 September 2017. 

Image courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore.

Interested in literary fiction, Sood’s installations are rich with narrative undertones. He develops characters for his artworks, and they sometimes take the form of delicately rendered drawings. Though detailed in their depiction, these characters maintain mysterious personas. Sood eschews distinct linear narratives, focusing instead on the harmony of his visual plots. “Our thoughts can animate an object,” said Sood. In the background, miniature figures continued to move across the walls and hardboards of his studio, and into our dreams.

 

4. Chun Kaifeng

Known for his quietly charming and witty sculptures, Chun Kaifeng is no stranger to Singapore’s local art scene. Trained in sculpture at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Chun’s artistic practice is built upon a strong foundation in fabrication and craftsmanship. This is most evident in Something Above and Beyond All This (Slow Burn), a sleek steel sculpture that overwhelms the viewer with its size and angularity. On first impression, Chun’s sculpture called to mind the history of minimalism. The reflected orange underside of the square “bowls” on the silver interior echoed the elegance and austerity of Donald Judd’s 'stacks'.

“Something Above and Beyond All This (Slow Burn)” (2017) by Chun Kaifeng.

Image courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore. 

“It’s inspired by air vents,” interjected Chun with a soft smile. Not meant as a slight on minimalism, Chun’s attentiveness to everyday objects encapsulates his artistic perspective. For him, art is a dialogue with the world; it is not merely a self-referencing conversation.

Studio of Chun Kaifeng, Residencies OPEN, 22 September 2017.

Image courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore.

As part of his residency at NTU CCA Singapore, Chun Kaifeng will be collaborating with Singapore-based artists Justin Zhuang and Cake Theatrical Productions for the performance titled A Playground Needs Only To Be Interesting, a playful twist on a quote by Donald Judd—a work needs only to be interesting. Taking place on 11 October from 7:30PM- 9PM, the performance is premised on playgrounds as a metaphor for creative inquiry. It will include a recitation of 'Playground Manifesto', a selection of artists’ statements collated by Chun.

 


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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