Guess who I finally bumped into when I dropped by the Future of Imagination 06 event at Sculpture Square earlier tonight?
Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn and Frank Black! Not!
But it was just as cool. I finally met Tang Da Wu!
A.k.a. The Artists Village founder and legendary performance artist.
A.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Ignored And Must Get A Solo Show At SAM.
*cough cough again*
I wanted to take a photo with him but Da Wu politely declined, saying he was shy. Hee.
But nehmind, as part of FOI, which is on until Sunday, he’s performing tomorrow, 5pm, at the Singapore Art Museum.
All you art freaks must die-die come okay?
Arts scene documentor extraordinaire Koh Nguang How said the last time Da Wu performed in Singapore at SAM was probably in 1996! That was when he was asked to introduce Montien Boonma at SAM and had snuck in some critical remarks about how the museum picks the works it acquires – with his own performance after the Thai artist’s bowl tower work (which was recently exhibited again) using Chinese teacups and a weighing scale.
Details for all FOI performances here.
So how was FOI06 Day Three?
I’ve yet to put up some video snippets so in the meantime, here’s an account.
Apparently due to some unforeseen circumstances, not least our lovely erratic rains, the kite flying performance by Juliana Yasin and the Indonesian group Jatiwangi Art Factory at East Coast (then West Coast) Park sort of fizzled out. Although they did fly kites at the last minute – in the rain.
So they were inserted into the night’s schedule at Sculpture Square where they did a number of songs they had written.
Take note of the dude on the right, who plays some sort of xylophone/gamelan-looking instrument – which is actually made of random pieces of tiles. That’s because the village JAF came from, Jatisura, is known for its roof-tile industry. And believe it or not, it’s actually in tune.
Their “set” was catchy-feel-good (they even gave away CDs of their songs for free!) and sandwiched between an intense piece by German Boris Nieslony and a wacky one from Kai Lam.
The former presented this amazing transformation, where he started off with minimal movements not out of place in a contemporary dance piece, but then the movements get erratic and spasmic until he turns into some schizophrenic Gollum, mumbling or screaming to himself, banging on the wall in a series of seizure-like movements.
Kai, meanwhile, did something “nice”. Yeah, he even referenced the conversation I had with him when I did the preview story for FOI in the papers. When I asked him what he was presenting, Kai said he was thinking of doing something, er, nice.
So while he’s preparing his stuff, he’s also problematising exactly what “nice” means in performance art. The final part of his performance, he dons this costume made of soft toys, stands on the table and starts snipping the toys one by one and throwing them to the audience. The performance also involved a clanging cymbal, a black flag, and two exploding plastic bottles of Coke.
There was also German duo Helge Meyer and Marco Teubner, a.k.a. System HM2T, who spent a greater part of their time wrapping themselves in two-sided tape. In the dark. Before rolling around outside Sculpture Square.
A couple of people however pointed out that it would have been a more effective performance had they been naked – the black briefs and boxers looked like those things censors use to, well, censor things. Sigh. So Uniquely Singapore.
Two female artists put on some uncannily similar performances. Mexico’s Elvira Santamaria and our own Amanda Heng both utilised some heavily ritualistic gestures and both were long.
Had it been slightly shorter and not the last piece of the night, I think I would have liked Amanda’s work immensely. While chaos sorta reigned in the performances of the dudes, hers was structurally so measured and deliberately constructure, yet had enough drama bubbling underneath as she whacked the wall with some rolled-up piece of cloth, covered herself in powder (?), arranged some random household objects and personal items in a single line, et cetera.
What was it exactly about? Er, I have no idea. But I felt something.
Elvira’s meanwhile was a tad too tedious for me. It involved her painting some words on black and white paper using her hair. Yes, her hair. Which she snipped off after.
Here’s the final product. Which is kinda okay actually.
But I think I liked the “piece” that followed later. An impromptu collaboration between Jason Lim and Tang Da Wu.
Jason had accidentally kicked the bowl of black ink (?). The spill formed a nice pattern on the floor. And I’m assuming Da Wu couldn’t resist adding a few touches to improve on its aesthetic harmony because here he is “tweaking” it a bit.
By the way, if you’re going to be in the area, do drop by Evil Empire, the new gallery from Alan Oei, the mastermind behind the Open House (not the Biennale theme, silly) and Blackout events.
The inaugural show is Child’s Play (Or Why Baby Jesus Looks So Strange). It’s got an interesting premise, looking at the idea of childhood (and children) and their (mis)representations. (Don’t forget to read the curatorial notes!)
Granted a lot of the works are basically “rehashed” from Oei’s previous events but for the most part, it does work.
I particularly liked Tan Wee Lit’s “toy action figure” pieces of… Tan Wee Lit.
There’s also the surprising (but most appropriate) inclusion of Ng Yi-Sheng. His poems are stuck on the wall upstairs and his book Last Boy’s on sale too.
And of course, you cannot not do an exhibition titled Child’s Play without an entire range of paintings by Huang Wei, that uber-mysterious artist of yore.
It’s at 48 Niven Road (behind Wilkie Edge) and the exhibit runs until April 31. For more details visit here.