Eight Artists to Watch in the Southeast Asia Platform
The Southeast Asia Platform at the ambitious Art Stage Singapore fair is the best way to plunge into the vibrant contemporary art scene of the region. Curated by Khim Ong, the Platform is a full-fledged commercial exhibition poetically titled “Eagles Fly, Sheep Flock: Biographical Imprints – Artistic Practices in Southeast Asia” and shows promising and established artists from Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and other adjacent countries. In a variety of mediums and techniques—film, performance, painting, and photography, among others—the choice of works combines personal narratives and contemporary realities with historical context. Here are eight artists to watch out for at the upcoming edition.
Fact and fiction are at the core of the works by this Singapore-based artist. He tells what he calls “insignificant histories” from the past and imagines their probable continuations in the future. Ka Fai works in visual arts, design, and performance, enhancing his works with the latest new media technologies like 3D printing or augmented reality. His project at the SEA Platform is a multimedia installation, in which 3D prints of non-existent artifacts, archival materials, and audio-visual documentaries tell a story of the short-lived Chinese Lan Fang Republic from the 18th and 19th centuries.
This Malaysian artist has received numerous international nominations and awards for his films and experimental video works. His nostalgia-driven movie Karaoke was named among the “most beautiful discoveries” of the Cannes Festival in 2009. His newest series, “Endemic,” will be shown at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris this spring. Chong Chan Fui’s contribution to the Platform is HEAVENHELL (2009), a 6-channel video installation that reimagines Tokyo’s Koganecho area. This area served as inspiration for hell in Akira Kurosawa’s cult film High and Low (1963), whose title directly translates to “Heaven and Hell.” Mixing staged and documented scenes—and imaginary and real facts from past and present—Chan Fui recreates the area’s history.
From Singapore, Weixin is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, where she received an MA in Printmaking. The Platform features work from two ongoing projects started during her study in London—“Copse” and “Exponential Taxonomies.” Drawing on natural history archives, Weixin explores the idea of digital and organic memory. With a series of digitally created giclée prints of surreally illuminated plants, she imagines alternative histories of nature.
Oranniwesna brings together various techniques (from printmaking and video to baby powder as a construction material) to talk about troubling issues of globalization and immigration. These topics convened in his contribution to the Thai Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Part of a larger exhibition entitled “Globalization… Please Slow Down,” Oranniwesna’s Ghost City was an integrated scheme of 13 cityscapes. At the Platform he presents a two-part installation that investigates the meaning of personal memory and shows people who’ve left their homes to seek new political and economic identities. The project draws upon his interactions with immigrants working at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, considered the most progressive contemporary art venue in the city.
A graduate of California Institute of the Arts, this Singapore-based Taiwanese artist focuses his practice on the everyday. For each of his projects, Chang takes numerous photographs, makes collages and annotated drawings, searches for literary quotes, and collects objects and memories. The Closest, Softest Thing (2014), featured at the Platform, is no exception. It shows the density of urban spaces where boundaries between private and public, outside and inside disappear. This duality informs another of Chang’s works at Art Stage, a kinetic installation, Clean (Car Wash), created for the entrance to the fair. It plays with the notion of cleanliness and may be interpreted as a good suggestion to the visitors: cleanse your mind before diving into the visual feast of Art Stage!
Wei’s collage-like works on canvas represent one of the more unique media choices within the Platform, and are worth a look. Their surfaces are densely covered with words and numbers cut from magazines and newspapers, in exploration of materialistic culture. For his solo show at Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2014, visitors were invited to share their personal measurements (like neck or bra cup size) with the artist to help him finish his monumental “Human Landscape” canvas. This type of encoded personal information pervades Unknown Landscape (2014), presented at the Platform. The more you peer into the work, the more layers and details arise. Is your birthdate hidden somewhere in the corner?
Cam is a prolific cross-disciplinary artist from Vietnam whose works incorporate media from painting and sculpture to video and performance. Throughout his career, he has fused the personal and the historical to the extent of literally coalescing with the protagonists of his works. In Volodya 1886 – 2011 (2012) he superimposed his photographic self-portrait onto a photograph of Vladimir Lenin. For the Platform, he has undertaken a similar fusion of personalities. The project Father & Son: the Artist Dream (2014) maps his personal and professional influences and shows Hoang merged with images of his own father, famous Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader.
Banal’s practice evades easy definition. A graduate of London’s Goldsmiths, he is an artist, teacher, and curator. He easily fuses diverse media, using photography, video, and text, and is perhaps best known for live performative actions set against installations. The result has been described as “a constellation of … photographic amnesia, cinematic stillness and sculptural performance.” This is exactly what the visitors of the Platform should expect, as Banal has prepared a new work especially for the fair.