DE:VOTED 13-19 JAN SAW 2020
E-catelog of DE:VOTED pls click here
Andy Yang, Ezzam Rahman, Justin Lee, Urich Lau, Yen Phang, Yeoh Wee Hwee and Yeo Shih Yun. (Singapore) & Chihiro Kabata and Yuuri Kabata (Japan)
“A love letter to devotion and intimacy, an ode to togetherness, and homage to the claustrophobia of surveillance capitalism... DE:VOTED is an immersive mashup of light, sound, performance, and technology.
In a single continuous gesture of Set-up, Presentation, and Deinstallation within the space of seven days over Singapore Art Week, the exhibition promises a cloistered experience of moving parts and performances, installations and auratic objects.
DE:VOTED’s sense of evolving communality - played out through a week-long programme of workshops, guided tours, and space activations - is further juxtaposed with a sense of geographical stretch, through INSTINC’s cross-border collaboration with art base camp in Tokyo, corresponding via simultaneous streaming of the happenings at Helutrans.”
This Exhibition Is Being Recorded by
It ended the way it started: with an empty white cube. On facebook were photos of the deinstallation. The first was an empty corner that provided no clue of what was there before. But succeeding photos, initially showing mere remnants then snippets of the actual process, provided glimpses to an exhibition as a temporal thing—a black trash bag filled with strips of mirror tapes sliced from Chihiro Kabata’s paintings; dismantled PVC pipes from an installation by Yen Phang stacked at the building entrance; Urich Lau rolling the wires from his tentacle creature of mixers, cameras and microphones; Justin Lee holding a deflated campy cartoon sword; and Yuuri Kabata dismantling her frames and painted vinyl sheets. There is something inexplicable about the process by which an exhibition ceases to exist, especially when it inhabited not only almost fully but also organically the space it was in.
The exhibition was never static. At the tail end of the second day, I entered an exhibition that was two-part installation-in-progress and one-part artists studio. Yuuri was delicately bent over a table, dipping a brush into a tube of metallic grey paint and applying it on a vinyl sheet—dot by dot a constellation emerged. Behind her came the heavy arrhythmical sound of a staple gun as Chihiro purposefully layered and positioned strips of mirror tape on the second of three stretchers.
Elsewhere, an installation was either taking place or having a momentary pause. Yen’s embryonic-like structure of plastic sheets and PVC pipes stood near the gallery entrance in slow steady development; Urich’s workstation included a tv screen leaning against the wall and balancing haphazardly on a trolley while a base stand was on its way; and Ezzam Rahman’s two clothes rack and Andy Yang’s red mattress and forsaken bridal dress seemed crammed in and were waiting patiently next to Justin’s homage to childhood toys and imagination. Despite a leaflet containing a rudimentary layout in which all the artists and their artworks were neatly mapped out in grids, in actual fact, the exhibition was a being that breathed—it gathered its composite parts as it inhaled and stretched across liberally as it exhaled. I returned on the fourth day to find the red mattress and the clothes racks outside the designated rectangular cube, holding court instead in the extensive lobby area, while in the gallery Yeo Shih Yun’s scrolls are now floating from the ceiling and Yeoh Wee Hwee’s The In:Visible Robe (2020) hangs above on the central wall. The black vinyl letterings spelling the artists’ names have been fixed on the floor near their respective artworks, marking some extent of certitude.
This period of stasis, however, was just an interlude. The opening party that night saw three artworks activated by performances—Justin’s We are what we pretend to be (2020), Ezzam’s can't you see there's nothing left for me (2020), and Andy’s UNSPOKEN (2020)—, which, like the exhibition, were porous as one performance seamlessly flowed into the other, with Andy and Urich providing and improvising sound throughout. I found on the fifth day—the day after the opening party—the wedding dress cut up, the white pants and t-shirts on the clothes racks a little creased, and bb pellets littered on the gallery floor.
The exhibition as this constant shifting terrain was highlighted that day in two activations. Chihiro and Yuuri, dressed in protective suits, moved through the dark exhibition space slowly, as though navigating an unfamiliar and wondrous yet potentially hostile environment, shining a torchlight first at one spot then another, changing the texture of the artworks as the light fell on it. After, Shih Yun set a blank scroll on the floor, and one by one, released 11 robots loose as ink trailed after them. Some rotated in circular motions, others became entangled and moved in unison. Yet, even as I watched these seemingly random actions, slowly a painting emerged from below, altered here and there by movements and interactions. I found in these two activations parallels to how the exhibition emerged and evolved over its seven days as it was shaped and reshaped by the collective energy of the nine artists making connections with and to each other.
I walked in on the sixth day as Yen was leaving, his face looking rapturous. Love in Cold Sweats (2020) laid half-collapsed, plastic sheets soiled by charcoal crumped into sinewy folds. He had earlier unearthed a performance, about which he wrote: “Had a breakthrough. Because of these guys, the DE:VOTED gang. Managed to find the performance that was hidden, with the help of Andy Yang’s improvised sound. Truly, thank you guys, the time spent working with you led to this happening, and new lines of artistic inquiry for me.”
Kamiliah Bahdar, February 2020 Kamiliah Bahdar is an independent curator living and working in Singapore. Her first foray into curating was when she became a participant in Curating Lab 2012, a programme organised by NUS Museum to train young curators. Never forgetting her anthropology training, she has always looked at art through the lens of culture and society. Projects she has worked on include Nyanyi Sunyi: Songs of Solitude (2018, Gillman Barracks), State of Motion: Sejarah-ku (2018, Asian Film Archive), Merayakan Murni (2015-2016, Ketemu Projects), and OVERRIDE and Oversight: Where is the public? (2013-2014, Sculpture Square).