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Singapore Art Museum – President’s young talents 2018

October 4, 2018 @ 10:00 amJanuary 27, 2019 @ 7:00 pm BMT

Singapore Art Museum - President's Young Talents 2018

President’s Young Talents 2018

The President’s Young Talents exhibition (PYT), organized by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), is the nation’s premier mentoring, commissioning and awards exposition. Into its seventh edition, PYT 2018 maintains its core focus as a platform that nurtures emerging artists aged 35 and below.

A mentoring committee comprising artists, independent curators and artist-curators, selected Yanyun Chen, Weixin Quek Chong, Debbie Ding, Hilmi Johandi and Zarina Muhammad, as the finalists of PYT 2018. A six-month mentorship followed, and through extensive dialogue, debate and development, the five artists produced the newly commissioned artworks. Across disciplines of painting, performance, new media, installation and sculpture, PYT 2018 presents some of the important strands of inquiry coming out of Singapore’s emerging contemporary art practitioners.

The exhibition carries two awards: the Grand Prize voted on by an independent jury, and a People’s Choice Award, the result of which is determined by the public. A show that highlights the energy and spirit of Singapore’s contemporary art scene, PYT 2018 fittingly marks the last exhibition in SAM’s calendar before both museum buildings close for a major revamp, momentously signaling a period of preparation for a new chapter of Singapore visual art.



Pragmatic Prayers for the Kala at the Threshold

by Zarina Muhammad takes the penunggu or ‘guardian at the gate’ as its departure point and charts out a space that traverses beyond the physical. The installation is laid out as three distinct divisions that serve as the hills, land, and sea of Bukit Larangan, Bras Basah, as well as Kallang and the coastal areas of Singapore, respectively. Within each designation is a selection of material objects and modes of presentation that reflect and respond to the history, culture and memories of the zones they are housed in. These objects act as coordinates in which to map the histories and paths that the spirits of these realms may have resided and roamed in. Historic and mythic, Pragmatic Prayers for the Kala at the Threshold aims to, in the artist’s words, “disrupt and irrupt time and move beyond the single narrative of place”


Zarina Muhammad

(b. 1982, Singapore) is an artist, educator, and writer whose practice is deeply entwined with her decadelong multidisciplinary research on the shapeshifting forms and cultural translations pertaining to Southeast Asian ritual magic and its mythological roots. She is particularly interested in the broader contexts of myth-making, gender-based archetypes, and the region’s tenuous and tentative relationship to mysticism and the immaterial against the dynamics of global modernity. Zarina has presented her work in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. She lives and works in Singapore.



The scars that write us

adopts the keloid scar as its reference and offers a narrative on wounds and scars, and those that bear them. Entering into a dark, quietened space, a visitor first perceives rather than sees the work directly, evoking a sense of anticipation, curiosity, and uncertainty for what lies ahead, obscured. The work unfolds in three types of spatial experiences: near, far and wide. The sense of proximity – or distance – alludes to the complex relationships between the audience, the person who bears the scar and the stories behind each wound. The installation also endeavors to provide a space to consider the unregistered contemplations for those who live with the ordeal of scars – the physical, and otherwise. The scars that write us is dedicated to wounds, scars, markings, traumas of all kinds. It is an installation that speaks of the most personal of experiences that every person holds.


Yanyun Chen

(b. 1986, Singapore) is a visual artist and lecturer at Yale-NUS College. Grounded in stories and philosophical readings, her drawing practice deconstructs our role as witness of-decay – depicting wilting flowers as a manifestation of time passing; researching nudity embroiled in historical spectacles and censorship; investigating the fictions and operations of etymology, and reading scars on the skin. She has trained in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Singapore, and Sweden, and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 15th Japan Media Arts Festival (2012). She manages illustration and animation studio Piplatchka and co-founded Delere Press. She lives and works in Singapore.


Soil Works

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the soil is a “biologically active, porous medium, that has developed in the uppermost layer of Earth’s crust”. Yet what is soil? In Soil Works, Debbie Ding unearths and isolates units of the composite excavated from concealed areas under expressways, overhead bridges, road triangles, carparks – public spaces which are usually overlooked as one travels through Singapore – and proposes, in her words, “a series of artistic investigations into soil in Singapore and its visibility and invisibility”. The installation is presented in five parts: “Red Landscape”, “Home without a Shelter”, “Topsoil”, “Sand Weight” and “Soil Column”. Each ‘station’ beckons the visitor to observe soil in a range of alternative investigative approaches. Through Soil Works, Ding considers the strategies of researching the physicality of soil in Singapore by highlighting both its perceptible and less perceivable qualities. In doing so, she destabilizes the concept of the scientific laboratory by staging her own multi-station ‘testing’ gallery.


Debbie Ding (DBBD.SG)

(b. 1984, Singapore) is a visual artist and technologist who researches and explores technologies of perception through personal investigations and experimentation. This has led to a series of the archive and map-based works under the moniker ‘Singapore Psychogeographical Society’, as well as computer-aided investigations into archaeological and historical finds. A recipient of the NAC Arts Scholarship (Postgraduate) (2013), she has presented in Singapore at The Substation (2010, 2012, 2015, 2017), NUS Museum (2016), the Singapore Biennale (2016) and National Museum of Singapore (2017). She has exhibited her work internationally in France, Germany, and the UK. She lives and works in Singapore.



sft crsh ctrl

Shaped by the concept of the contingency plan, sft crsh ctrl by Weixin Quek Chong invites visitors to engage with a range of objects and series of material encounters that seem to evade traditional inquiry. The work unfolds, unfurls, suspends and drapes in ways that challenge the visitor’s understanding and expectation of materials. Its components evoke a sense of precarity and the notion of non-occurrence. It is an installation of ‘surfaces’ as explored through material form and transformation. sft crsh ctrl guides the visitor towards sensations underlined by uncertainty, persuading a disengagement from the instinct to rationalize.


Weixin Quek Chong

(b. 1988, Singapore) is a visual artist whose practice explores materiality, the afterlife of images and the relationships between the digital, organic and aesthetic. The effects and methods of manipulating images across materials are core to her practice. She was a recipient of the NAC Arts Scholarship (Postgraduate) (2012) and the Tan Ean Kiam Postgraduate Scholarship. Previously an artist-in-residence at the NTU Centre of Contemporary Art in Singapore, her works have been exhibited in Carrara, Istanbul, London, Paris, Santiago, Seoul, Taipei, Vienna, and Yogyakarta. She lives and works in Singapore, Spain, and the UK.



An Exposition

tells the story of the defunct ‘World(s)’ – New World, Great World and Gay World (formerly Happy World) – through fragments of material and memory. The schemas of these bygone-era amusement parks are used to introduce audiences to an assemblage of fragmentary elements. In doing so, Hilmi attempts to establish a speculative dialogue that traces the systems of production, consumption, pleasures, and entertainment of these ‘World(s)’. Visitors are welcomed to traverse a space marked out by components that together appear to resemble a deconstructed theatrical set. These range from paintings, wooden sculptures and silent animated videos to wall and wood mounted vinyl prints. The installation is immersive whilst reminding the viewer of the void that exists within the theatricality of set designs and amusement parks. In a presentation of decontextualized signs and symbols, An Exposition engages with the local history and collective memory of Singapore.


Hilmi Johandi

(b. 1987, Singapore) primarily works with painting and explores interventions with different mediums that are associated within the domain of framing, fragmentation (deconstruction) and compression (reconstruction). Set in the context of Singapore, he composes and synthesizes images from the film, archival footages, and photographs into a fragmented montage that hints at the social effects of rapid development. He was a recipient of the NAC Arts Scholarship (Postgraduate) (2017), LASALLE Scholarship (2017) and the Goh Chok Tong Youth Promise Award. He has been involved in exhibitions in Japan, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Thailand. He lives and works in Singapore.



About Singapore Art Museum

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is a contemporary art museum which focuses on art-making and art-thinking in Singapore, Southeast Asia, and Asia, encompassing a worldwide perspective on contemporary art practice. SAM advocates and makes accessible interdisciplinary contemporary art through research-led and evolving curatorial practice. Since it opened in January 1996, SAM has built up one of the most important collections of contemporary art from the region. It seeks to seed and nourish a stimulating and creative space in Singapore through exhibitions and public programmes and to deepen every visitor’s experience. These include outreach and education, research and publications, as well as cross-disciplinary residencies and exchanges.


SAM occupies two buildings: the old St Joseph’s Institution on Bras Basah Road, built in 1855 and now a National Monument; and SAM at 8Q, a conservation building across the road on Queen Street that was the old Catholic High School. The museum building along Bras Basah Road is currently closed in preparation for a major revamp, with museum programming continuing at SAM at 8Q and partner venues.


SAM was the organizer of the Singapore Biennale in 2011, 2013 and 2016, and will continue to organize the next two editions in 2019 and 2022. SAM was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee on 13 November 2013, operating under the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth.


To find out more, visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg


October 4, 2018 @ 10:00 am BMT
January 27, 2019 @ 7:00 pm BMT
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Singapore Art Museum
SAM at 8Q: 8 Queen Street
Singapore, 188535 Singapore
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