What does it mean to have valour? And what does it take to be brave? These were the questions that we put to six local artists as Singapore celebrates its 55th National Day this month. Here, their works that speak of hope, faith and perseverance as the nation enters an unprecedented era with fortitude.
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“A word to describe the ‘fight’ in our ‘fight or flight’ response, courage is the action to step forward and do what needs to be done in a situation of danger or fear. It’s the catharsis that sparks action from inaction, and the decision to leap forward after the moment of doubt, despite the sheer height and the girth of the act.” Victor Emmanuel’s work speaks of his preoccupation with the human form and nature. His sculptural “Osseous Crystallised & Ivory” (2018) explores the theme of memento mori and romanticises the beauty of life’s final chapters. He is currently working on the second series to this body of work.
(REBUILD) NEW FUTURE
CEMENT AND ACRYLIC
“New Future aims to examine how one can overcome adversity in times of difficulty and hardship through resilience, determination and courage, referencing a group of our early ancestors, the Samsui women, who laid the foundation blocks for a prosperous country. These bricks are cast in cement—a material commonly used in construction to bind before it hardens and sets—as a reminder and inspiration to help us through difficult times. In such unprecedented times, it is even more crucial that we stand strong as individuals, as a family, as a nation, and rebuild our new future together in solidarity.” Stellah Lim’s installation and sculpture works explore the tension between permanence and impermanence; presence and absence. She is one of the participating artists of the National Arts Council’s (NAC) Streets of Hope project, which brings art to the streets (including Orchard Road, Raffes Boulevard, Victoria Street and Mohamed Sultan Road) till 1September.
THE BUTTERFLY DREAM
“It takes courage to hold on to our imagination and dreams, especially in times of uncertainty. The act of wandering and wondering can be profoundly transformative. What better time is there to listen to your dreams than when the world takes a moment to pause?” Alecia Neo’s latest project, ramah-tamah, looks at the evolution of hospitality rituals performed by women across the region. Centred around the betel leaf, the work is interwoven with collected interviews and pantuns, written and recited by octogenarian Peranakan Baba GT Lye. Watch it on vimeo.com.
SAI (CHEN SAI HUA KUAN)
ADAPT ADAPTOR NO 2
“An adaptor is an unassuming yet important everyday object that connects pieces that are otherwise incompatible. With the pandemic being a new reality for all of us, Adapt Adaptor No 2 explores the idea of adapting, or being adapted, and the courage to adjust to new conditions. The four adaptors are connected to one another in a manner that is di erent from common practice, creating new purpose through the breaking of old habits. As Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species proposes, it’s not the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives, but the most adaptable.” Sai’s interactive sound installation, Sound like 20, at the Esplanade Concourse till 30 August, o ers an alternate conceptualisation of space while employing the human voice as an artistic medium. He will also be showing at Seoul’s Open Media Art Festival, which runs from 12 to 15 November.
CHU CHU YUAN
HERE WE GO!
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“Bravery is to live in a way that is neither governed by fear—including fear of rejection, failure or shame— nor others’ approval, praise and reward. It is about recognising your own values and goals, and to pursue them as ends in themselves. Through the Covid-19 experience, we see that people feel a need to connect with others; society; the bigger picture; the greater good. This artwork is a cheer for us to all venture out courageously, to attend to massive challenges facing people, society and the environment, unhindered by feelings of shortcomings, imperfections or self-doubt.” Chu Chu Yuan’s work expresses her focus on interconnections between the individual and the greater community. Her latest series of drawings, based on the intelligence of plants, was offered for sale in the Artists Support Pledge Singapore project initiated by Post-Museum (post-museum.org) in March this year.
AS THE SKY WAVERS
“Being brave is a state of mind. More than facing down threat to life and limb, it’s our capacity to follow through on our convictions, regardless of the pain and the rejection that it brings; to be responsible for our own decisions and who we become. Being willing to negotiate with change, staying focused on our pole star even when all else seem to come undone in times like these, it’s the strength to ride out life’s vicissitudes, the tumult ofthe current pandemic, like the Hanuman or Sun Wukong tricksterfigure. It’s realising the destructiveness of our current lifestyle, anddaring to explore new ways of thinking, of being.” RenZiis currently part of the NAC’s Streets of Hope project. End August, he will be contributing to a group show at the ADM Gallery at the Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media, which explores the socio-political implications of the campaesthetic.