Season of the glitch: Two art exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore respond to Covid-19 pandemic

SINGAPORE – Time passes differently in a pandemic. Space is reworked. In two new exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore, 23 emerging artists respond to the changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum looks at models of caring in a period of uncertainty. It takes its title from the middle section of Virginia Woolf’s novel To The Lighthouse (1927), which spans 10 years.

Curator Samantha Yap, 27, says: “The exhibition can be conceived as a corridor of time that documents or reflects on the passage of our days in this very indeterminate time.”

An Exercise Of Meaning In A Glitch Season by National Gallery Singapore imagines new ways of thinking for a more humane future.

“With the pandemic, the role of art has never been more crucial,” says curator Syaheedah Iskandar, 30. “Following these exercises of contemplations, I hope visitors are inspired to propose new ways of thinking and doing – of being – in a changed world.”

The exhibitions are part of Proposals For Novel Ways Of Being, an unprecedented initiative by the two museums in partnership with 10 other local art institutions, spaces and collectives, which features the works of more than 170 artists in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Straits Times picks out six works to look out for.

TIME PASSES

PASSAGE MOIST BEINGS

By Yeyoon Avis Ann


Passage Moist Beings by Yeyoon Avis Ann in the exhibition Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

During the circuit breaker period, the artist began a rainy day ritual of picking snails off the road and moving them out of harm’s way.

This work combines video footage of this careful practice with resin that reproduces the damp detritus-filled environment she finds the snails in.

DROP OF LIGHT (PYRAMID)

By Ashley Yeo


Drop of light (Pyramid) by Ashley Yeo in the exhibition Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

This delicate paper pyramid was hand-cut by Yeo, the first Singaporean artist to be shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize in London.

She bases a lot of her practice on the concept of stillness, requiring viewers to pay more attention to detail.

The pyramid sits on a mirrored surface, alluding to the recursive nature of time during the pandemic. In a corner underneath it is a container filled with the slivers of paper cut out when it was made.

DRESSING A WINDOW

By Stephanie Jane Burt


Dressing A Window by Stephanie Jane Burt in the exhibition Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum. 
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Between two steel frames representing windows, Burt drapes materials repurposed from her previous works, such as ribbon, netting and lace.

The work draws on the Time Passes passage in To The Lighthouse, in which the housekeeper of a decaying holiday home comes in to open windows and air the house. It explores the notion of the gaze, how in order to care for something, you must look at it.

RENDEZVOUS

By Khairullah Rahim


Rendezvous by Khairullah Rahim in the exhibition Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum. 
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

A terrarium stands on a bed of gravel under neon blue light, filled with an assortment of objects such as faux plants, shower roses and rhinestone-studded driftwood.

It is an intimate look at public space and the ways that marginalised communities use such spaces to meet covertly.

AN EXERCISE OF MEANING IN A GLITCH SEASON

POKOKNYA: ORGANIC CANCELLATION

By Tini Aliman


Pokoknya: Organic Cancellation by Tini Aliman in the exhibition An Exercise Of Meaning In A Glitch Season by National Gallery Singapore. 
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Tini, a sound designer and foley artist, is researching biodata sonification, in which she creates music by measuring the changes in galvanic conductance on plants and translating that data into sound.

Her aural sculpture combines this exploration into plant consciousness with the nature of the glitch, using footage from an earlier performance that she was meant to reprise later this year, only to have it cancelled due to Covid-19.

The structures are broadcasting two waveforms which cancel each other out. Visitors can pass a paddle between them, disrupting the cancellation and activating the sound again.

THERE CAN BE NO TOUCHING HERE

By Ila


There can be no touching here by Ila in the exhibition An Exercise Of Meaning In A Glitch Season by National Gallery Singapore. 
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The title evokes how during the pandemic, physical contact has had to be reduced. This work, however, looks further at how sexual assault is portrayed in the media.

A series of banners dissects a news article about a sexual assault trial, as well as comments about the case on social media.

The work also links visitors to further resources about addressing sexual assault in the community

BOOK IT / TIME PASSES AND AN EXERCISE OF MEANING IN A GLITCH SEASON

WHERE: National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road

WHEN: Friday (Sept 4) to Feb 21, 2021, 10am to 7pm daily

ADMISSION: Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents, $20 general admission for others

INFO: www.novelwaysofbeing.sg

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