[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, June 07, 2008

[What's your point of view?]
This is one overdue post but is something that I really want to talk about.

I was invited by my colleagues at the National Arts Council to view Matthew Ngui's exhibition titled Points of View at the National Museum. Matthew is one of the curators of the Singapore Biennale - the project that I am currently working on for during my three month stint at NAC.

Matthew Ngui is the first Singapore artist to be invited to exhibit at top international biennales like the 23rd Sao Paolo Bienal 1996 and Documenta X 1997. He was also one of four Singaporean artists presented at the first Singapore Pavilion in the 49th Venice Biennale 2001 and the 4th Gwangju Biennale 2002.

Before I ask why artists have to be recognised out of Singapore, I would like to answer it. My fellow intern who's a student at LASALLE tells me it is because Singaporeans do not know how to appreciate art. I guess that is partly true. But could it be the amount of artistic suppression in Singapore that forces artists to venture abroad? One cannot rule that out as well.

I was reading about contemporary art and of the famous saga in the arts scene about theatre plays without scripts known as forum theatre. From then on, because of an obsene act, the government was pushed into regulating theatre as they were concerned such new forms of art may "encourage spontaneous audience participation pose dangers to public order, security and decency, and much greater difficulty to the licensing authority."

Scripts for theatre plays today may be subject to government regulation but groups "who have through the years developed a close and trusting relationship with the government, are exempted from having their scripts vetted beforehand."

It could be argued that since some of such plays are supported using government grants, the government may have the right to regulate. Then again, they expouse self-regulation in place of government regulation.

A colleague once asked me which is more potent - self-regulation or government regulation. I have not reached a decision on what my answer will be.

I didn't know that I digressed so much.

If you remember two childhood stories that have been widely told – one about effect of teamwork when ten fingers work together and the other a tale of sticks that band together into a stronger entity, you would probably understand Matthew's Points of View. Both play on the paradoxical notion of things that are together but yet separate.

The exhibition is a collection of different works from the late 1980s to the present - although it is one exhibition, it's a combination of many works.

Ngui’s use of anamorphosis in several works forces visitors to interact and fully understand the works in a fun manner. Anamorphosis is a technique in which the artwork (comprising several pieces) can be seen in full from only one point. Therefore, one has to figure out the single point of the fragmented images in order to view the full picture. This is a dialectic of illusion and reality and further questions the stability of representation and the singular point of view.

Visit the exhibition and then try to find that point of view. People who do not know of this technique will be amused when they see you shifting around and searching for that point. They will be baffled at first but will understand why later.


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