Q & A with Curator Khairuddin Hori & Mojoko
Artist Mojoko is currently exhibiting a solo exhibition, “Sick Scents” at Chan + Hori Contemporary in Gillman Barracks. Curator Khairuddin Hori talks with the artist about the show and his collaboration with scent designer Terry Jacobson which is now open June 1st – June 24th.
You are known as one of the figureheads in urban culture inspired marketing and respected by many in this corner of the world. You also created Kult magazine and gallery http://www.kult.online as a platform for sharing. You have since left those roles to others to focus solely on your path as an artist. How has it been?
It has been an enjoyable experience working independently with clients as an artist, there is a lot more trust involved than when you represent an agency for example. I don’t miss long painful meetings and high pressure timelines. Having said that however, I am starting to feel a little self-indulgent only making my artwork, I feel my role here (in Singapore & Asia) is to connect people. I am fond of community projects and organising group shows. So I intend to start that side of things again. I am also very excited by publishing, so I will be starting a new publication this autumn aimed at Children & Creativity.
You must spend many hours in front of computers, at vintage markets and heritage museums to mine source materials for your art and inspiration. What triggers your excitement while doing such research?
I am seriously lucky to be able to go on holiday and call it research. Go shopping and it can be work. Go to a bookstore and be able to apply any inspiration to a project. I think uncovering a beautiful antique I can afford in a junk store or finding good quality rare frames certainly kickstart ideas for me. For example: If I find a rare ornate picture frame, I will custom a new artwork from scratch just to fit in that frame. The frame becomes part of the story of the artwork. The erosion of history and tradition is a common theme in my work, and the act of recycling or re-appropriating the frames plays firmly into that concept.
Which comes first, your visual ‘mash-up’ of hyper pop culture, traditional Chinese ointments and picture frames, or your vision of custom scents?
I think it’s fair to say my Visual Mash-Up has been coming first, because I have been doing it for over 10 years. The custom scents idea came about as I was introduced to scent design recently and saw it as an art form, not a traditional kind, but it certainly requires creativity and invention to get somewhere new in the scent world. I found I could apply my ideas of mixing unexpected elements together to get unique results. For example, mixing old and new ingredients, eastern and western ingredients gave the same surprising results as mixing those kinds of (mash up) visuals.
Sometimes, gallery visitors assume that these custom scents are actually exclusively expensive perfumes and not art. Could you share with us their status as absolute, bona fide artworks?
They are undeniably wearable scents, but they are in my mind abstract artworks, the creative process is the same as making any artwork, the considerations of presentation are key and the ideas behind them are conceptual just as any artwork. They are extremely limited into editions of 20 so perhaps when they are gone, they are gone. Forever.
Has working in collaboration with perfumer Terry Jacobson provide you with a sense of adventure and ideas to work with more ephemeral materials in the future?
I normally make things which will last a long time, good quality items which will have long lives. Mainly due to the disposable culture we live in, I am reluctant to make more junk for landfills. This project was a bit of a departure from that idea, creating something ephemeral and temporal. The scent will last for about a year, there is no other way to document the work than to experience it and smell it. The idea is quite human in that aspect. It has been an interesting experience working like that, a bit like street art or ice sculpture. Once it’s gone its gone.