Curated by Jason Wee, presented in Grey Projects, this is an exhibition featuring a series of photographic works that revisits the work Singapore from BW to C first presented in 1985. More then three decades later, this exhibition is about the process behind the work and the historical dimension it has acquired with the passing of time.
In November 1985, I presented my first exhibition in Singapore: a series of forty-two black and white painted photographs, set for a one-night-only event in a flatted factory in MacPherson Road. The body of work was a reflection on the deep transformation then taking place in both urban spaces and the social fabric of the newly born nation.
This event was a noticeable departure from the form of photographic and artistic practices that had prevailed in Singapore until then, both in its pictorial content and in its presentation as installation in an industrial space. Thirty-two years later, curator Jason Wee decided to revisit this body of work with an exhibition presented in his art space Grey Projects. He aimed to highlight the historical significance granted by the passing of time to both images and artistic process, and bring it back to the public’s attention.
Art works corresponding to various stages of the series development were selected to represent the process behind it, juxtaposing contact sheets, tests and trials, original exhibited art works and digital contemporary reprints of about a dozen of the original images. These were completed with a selection of the various commercial uses these images had lent themselves too in the following decade, such as postcards, calendar, article, etc.
The fourteen images from the original series re-used in Tints and Disposition
The Movie: Singapore from BW to C v.2.0.17
Started as a slide show meant to show the full series of the 42 original works from the 1985 exhibition in the 2017 version, the intended audiovisual quickly evolved into a full fledged short movie. Through animation of still images, computer screen capture, and some live situation shooting in and around the National Library, the 31mn movie presents an overview of the works then exhibited and the places featured in the photographs, along with a commentary narrating the genesis of the work within the context of the then emerging contemporary local art scene.
The Singapore art scene of the early 1980s had such a spontaneous and informal energy that its vibrancy has yet to be properly identified, recorded and analysed by art historians. The exhibition Singapore from BW to C was an integral part of it and this short movie hope to be a meaningful contribution to this process.
The first public screening of the movie took place on the 7 October 2017 in the National Library of Singapore.