Valentine Willie Fine Art is pleased to present Cartographical Lure, an exhibition that explores artistic mapping as a subjective visual representation of our lived environment. The initial idea was premised on interest of getting artists to produce their own cartographical interpretation of the region, using the map as a diving board to explore our shared regional history, culture and memory.
This project was later expanded to include more varied responses, away from the exacting empiricism or grand geographical narratives normally associated with maps, to highlight the emotive and imaginary aspects of the cartographical science.
Instead artists are asked to create personal responses to a particular locale, working with different materials - computer generated images, traditional hand-drawn or even other forms of craftsmanship - resulting in a complex body of work that ranges from the biographical to the conceptual, from maps of interventional nature to maps on land use interpretation.
Cartographical Lure is the first in a series of exhibition by VWFA to acknowledge the increasing number of contemporary artists who are using various mediums to explore our cultural geography.
Chong Kim Chiew
Gan Siong King
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Cartographical Lure is premised on the idea that maps as subjective visual representations of our lived environment chart our encounters with a geographical environment on a personal and experiential level. Looking back at a century of avant-garde practice, we may trace this strategy back to the Situationists concept of the derivé, further back to Walter Benjamin's meanderings through the Arcade and even further back to the very idea of the wandering flaneur that closes the nineteenth century and opens up an artistic position that maintains a precariously balance between critical distance and personal engagement.
The figure of the altermodern artist, recently invoked and described by Nicholas Bourriaud as an itinerant traveler, who straddles in-between cultures as mediators and translators, highlights an increasingly global art movement that sees the emergence of strategic practices that sought for indvidual spaces, personal orbits in a world that is becoming increasingly flat. A map and geography show such as this highlights the cartographical form as a responsive strategies along these lines in a mobile world where artists play an increasingly sophisticated role as a traveler and explorer, mapping a subjective trajectory that follows individual impulses and interests, revealing to us personal vision if not an understanding of the world we live in.
Like the character Din in Tash Aw's Map of the Invisible World, a struggling scholar who desires to write a 'secret history' of the Indonesian islands (a project that hopes to communicate an authentic experience, 'those islands were like a lost world where everything remained true and authentic, away from the gaze of foreigners - a kind of invisible world'), the cartographical lure draws a number of artists to produce what is perceived to be a more subjective and also ironically more concrete idea of a geographical landscape.
Not surprising a number of these artistic undertakings aim at subverting nationalistic narratives. Using landscape as medium, Krisna Murti sketches out a portrait of 'a cultural position, identity or an attempt of the Indonesian people to understand this reality'. Unlimited Zone hints at the space stretching towards all possibility, exceeding the landscape tradition of the Dutch Indies that was a crucial legacy that has shaped the cultural geography of Indonesia.
Chong Kim Chiew's Map of Correction depicts a process of redressing national boundaries as the physical form of Malaysia is almost erased, leaving an amorphous collection of townships to suggest a fragmented state of existence. Similarly, using stickers to draw out a geographical History of Singapore, Jason Wee performs a subtle critique on the packaging of history in the tourism and pop cultural industry, a system that flattens out inconsistencies and ruptures into a teleological narrative.
Tiffany Chung's 10.75ºN 106.6667ºE - 2020 refers to the coordinate of a specific site in Ho Chi Minh City, questioning the utopian visions of development as well as the discrepant modernities that attend the exercise of controlled order and progress. The result of this exponential growth in urban centres around Southeast Asia is not a painless one. Mark Salvatus's Comfort Zone is an exercise in detourement. Using a found zoning map of Seoul, which was used as a guide for developers to build new structures at the expense of tearing down small villages, Mark creates a make-shift shelter for the city, symbolising the displacement of its inhabitants.
This hidden reign is further exposed in Jennifer Wooford's wall piece. The 5 Point Star explores the binding, colonial and commercial ties between the United States, the Philippines, Mexico, China and Spain. Installed in the pentagram format, the occult allusion suggest the slightly occult relationship between these nations just as much as 5 point stars are often symbols of patriotism, militarism, faith and power.
On a more individual level, Bea Camacho's Analysis of Relative Distance abstracts kinship relation, using minimalist vocabulary to portray the emotional scale across a familial bind that spans the globe. Nadiah Bamadhaj's critique on Malaysian suburban built environment is powerfully argued in Follow the Road, suggesting how the ordering of space in our lived environment shapes our identity. On the other hand, Gan Siong King’s Fragment of the Loneliest Place in the World redeems this dystopic assessment. The work plunges us into the bedroom of the artist, carving out a personal creative space for reflection and thought. It is an assertion of agency and artistic will, arguing that the fulfilment we all find in art provides us with answers against the imposition of an exterior knowledge on the individual.
In these varied responses - as emotive, imaginary, conceptual maps, as maps for international projects or maps on land use interpretations – the invisible worlds come to represent a complex existence that resists the ordering or disciplining of our personal world by the other. Their contestation to the objectivity of knowledge is not found in a patent assertion of an alternative absolute. Rather, they form a dizzy, chaotic, noisy and at times esoteric view of many private worlds, multiplying and magnifying all these subjective viewpoints that complicate our intersecting yet individual course in the world we share.
Bea Camacho (b. 1983, Manila) received her BA Summa Cum Laude in Visual and Environmental Studies at the prestigious Harvard University in 2005. She has held three solo exhibitions in Manilan to date, 'Efface' at Green Papaya Art Projects (2008), 'Conversion Factors' at Mag:net Gallery Kapinunan (2007) , 'Blind Transmission' at Cultural Center of the Philippines (2006). Her new series titled Family Map addresses ideas of distance and disconnection. These works examine the space that separates one person from another and also propose ways of making this space visible and tangible, in an effort to better understand it. The pieces in this exhibit aim to expose the 'in-between'. Rather than attempting to create connections, these works deliberately engage in the process of taking apart. The 'space between' is not a voidl but rather, it is rich with content and meaning.
Chong Kim Chiew graduated in 2001 from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art in China, majoring in oil painting. Based in Kuala Lumpur, he focuses mainly in his art making as well as teaching at a local art college. He held his first solo exhibition 'Isolation House' at Rumah Air Panas, Kuala Lumpur, in 2005.
Gan Siong King (b. 1975) wears many hats as artist, production designer for feature films and arts worker in numerous community based projects. Gan received his Diploma in Fine arts majoring in oil painting from the Malaysia Institute of Art in 1996. He was also the artist assistant to Wong Hoy Cheong from 1996 - 1999. Gan has taken part in several exhibitions including 'Sama-sama' 2007 at Lost Generation Space, 'Seriously Beautiful' at Reka Art Space, 'Seni: Homefronts' at Singapore Arts Museum 2004, and '3 Young Contemporaries' at VWFA Gallery in 2001. As a production designer, Gan's credits include Liew Seng Tat's 'Flower In The Pocket' which has recently won the PRO Tiger Award at the 2008 Rotterdam Film Festival, Fahmi Reza's 'Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdeka' and Tsai Ming Liang's 'I Don't Want to Sleep Alone'.
Jason Wee (b. 1978, Singapore) is the founder of Grey Project, an alternative art space and residency that focuses on emerging and nascent practices. He was a Studio Fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 2005 to 2006. His large-scale installation ‘1987’ was shown in the 1st Singapore Biennale 2006. He has exhibited internationally in the Chelsea Art Museum (New York), Singapore Art Museum, Peer Gallery (New York), Photo New York, PS122 Gallery (New York), Asian-American Art Center, Art Seasons Gallery (Singapore). This year he will be presenting projects in Manchester, Tokyo, Stuttgart and Berlin. He has also completed a residency at Artspace, Sydney in December 2007 and Artist-in-Residence in the International Symposium of Electronic Arts in 2008. He is a Creator-in-Residence at Tokyo Wonder Site in 2009.
Jennifer Wofford is a Filipina-American artist and educator based in Prague. She was born in San Francisco and raised in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and her MFA from UC Berkeley. Her work has been exhibited in the Bay Area at the Bekerley Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, Richmond Art Center, and Kerny Street Workshop, nationally at the New Image Art (Lost Angeles), Nora Eccles Harrison Museum (Salt Lake City), thirtynine hotel (Honolulu) and internationally at Future Prospects (the Philippines), Galerie Blanche (France) and Osage Gallery Kwun Tong (Hong Kong).
Krisna Murti (b. 1957, Indonesia) graduated from the Faculty of Art and Design at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 1981. He has since exhibited widely all over the world, participating in group shows in the Netherlands, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Italy, Fracne, Russia, etc. In 2005, he showed at the Indonesia Pavilion at Venice Biennale. As a pioneer and leading new media artists in Indonesia, he has held numerous solo exhibitions including recent ones such as Wayang Maching, at Japan Foundation Jakarta and Centre Culturel Francais Yogyakarta (2002), Video Spa, at National Gallery of Indonesia (2004). His most recent solo exhibition at Cemeti Art House in 2008, Forbidden Zone, received critical success. His works are in the collection of the Singapore Art Museum and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan.
Mark Salvatus is a cross-displinary artist based in Manila, the Philippines. He graduated with a BFA from the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts and Design and is currently completing a MFA at the same university.Mark is best known for his 'Wrapped: Traces' initiative, an ongoing art project that has taken him through South Korea, Spain, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Visitors are invited to trace the shapes of their personal objects onto a wall, which Mark will then 'wrap' with his fine pencil work. Mark recently completed a two month residency at Green Papaya Art Projects where he created the 'Neo-Urban Plan', an investigation into urbanism and urban culture. He is also the recipient of the Arts Network Asia (ANA) travel grant.
Nadiah Bamadhaj (b. 1968, Malaysia) is trained as a sculptor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, she now produces drawings, video, and digital images. She has worked in non-government organizations on HIV/AIDS prevention, human rights advocacy, and lectured in art in Kuala Lumpur. She is author of Aksi Write (1997), a work of non-fiction on Indonesia and Timor Leste, co-written with her late brother. In 2000 she began full-time art-practice, and was awarded the Nippon Foundation's Asian Public Intellectual Fellowship in 2002, electing to spend her fellowship period in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where she produced an art-based research project on the social aftermath of Indonesia’s 1965 coup attempt. Her recent artwork looks at architecture as historical and nationalist documents, which is the topic of her PhD research that began at Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia in 2006.
Tiffany Chung (b. 1969, Vietnam)
Upon obtaining her BFA from California State University, Long Beach in 1998 and MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000, Chung returned to Ho Chi Minh City where she currently lives and works. Selected solo projects include Play, Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York (2008); wonderland, Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City (2008); Enokiberry tree in wonderland, episode 3: another day another world for ‘Intrude Art&Life 366’, Zendai MOMA, Shanghai, China (2008); Beyond Soft Air and Cotton Candy, LMan Gallery, LA (2006); Famous for 15” in the Sugarless Factory, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan (2005). Notable group exhibitions include So Close Yet So Far Away- Incheon International Women Artists’ Biennale, Incheon, Korea (2009); A Starting Point: Intrude 366 – Dynamics of change and growth, Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China (2009); transPOP: Korea Viet Nam Remix, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, USA and Arko Museum, Korea (2007-2009); The 3rd Fukuoka Triennale, Fukuoka, Japan (2005); Identities Versus Globalization, Chiang Mai Art Museum, Thailand and Dahlem Museum, Germany (2004).