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A Tribute to Corazon C. Aquino



Damsel Liaison: Charisma of the Lady in Art WHOLE Gautama Buddha: Sculpture in Paintings 23rd Singapore International Film Festival CHICAGO masquerade





15 Principles of Black Market International 21 Featured Artist of FOI

A Confoundedly Confutative Construal: Performing the Perception of Performance Interview: Effendy A Brief on Asian Performance Art





When love departs, reason returns (or, notes to self for next time)

57 DIRECTORY Singapore



An Exhibition Featuring the works of:

Arturo Luz • Richard Arimado • Karina Baluyut • Amador Barquilla • Jovan Benito • Jomar Delluba • Aileen Lanuza • Carlo Magno • Jerry Morada • Ramon Orlina • Mario Parial • Aljo Pingol • Vincent de Pio • Dominic Rubio • Tres Reyes • Lydia Velasco Friday, The 16th of April 2010 at Galerie Joaquin Singapore The Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road Ground Floor Unit 3, Singapore 249715 Exhibit ends 10th May 2010

Art of the meeting

66 POST-POSTSCRIPT Roi Vaara. Artist’s Dilemma (video still)

Supported by the

Ninoy Aquino Foundation in Singapore 10 // CONFABULATION










Tel.: +(65) 6725 31132010 · Email: APRIL // 11

Issue #5 (April 2010) ISSN 1793-9739 / MICA (P) 183/02/2010

Editor-in-chief // Sabrina Sit / Guest Editor // Jason Lim Art Director // Amalina MN / Photography Director // Michael Tan (Ambious Studio) Account Executive // Kayla Hoo / Contributors // Bruce Quek / Richard Lim / June Yap Site Specific artist // Lee Wen General enquiries and feedback // Advertising // Press Releases // Cover Jason Lim, Duet (3 hours durational performance), Sweden, 2009. Photo: Jürgen Fritz Duet was a durational performance situated at the edge of the Museum of World Culture and the Museum of Natural History in Gotenberg, Sweden. The granite wall and moss covered steps background was chosen for providing dramatic visual and compositional purposes. In the duration of performance, Jason spent 2 hours unspooling an industrial sized ball of red thread onto the backrest of the chair. After which he sat on a chair balanced by three inverted glasses and draped his head with the newly ‘weaved’ fabric. Towards the end, with his head still covered by the veil of red thread, he walked gingerly around the open space of the museum. He ended the performance when his made his way back to the chair, unveiled and draped the fabric back onto the backrest of the chair.

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Jason Lim Untitled (Trash Head), Sweden, 2009. Photo by Peter Lindl


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Exhibition: Date: Venue:

Damsel Liaison: Charisma of the Lady in Art 02.04.10 - 13.04.10 Gnani Arts Space 190 Middle Road #02-30/31 Fortune Centre Singapore 188979

Exhibition: 23rd Singapore International Film Festival Date: 15.04.10 - 24.05.10 Venue: LIDO/THE ARTS HOUSE Via conventional and almost exotic portrayals of the woman, this showcase of paintings and sculptures by two masters and five emerging artists, extols the beauty that is inherent in the confidence, charm and sensuality of the female element in human life. C. Dakshinamoorthy and A. Selvaraj are the two masters in the exhibition. Ann Meek, Aparna Sundaresh, Sam Kumar, Seema Chopra and Yeo - are being launched into the dynamic community of fine artists through this alluring showcase.

Exhibition: Date: Venue:

WHOLE 08.04.10 – 06.05.10 Indigo Blue 33 Neil Road Singapore 088820

“WHOLE” express the individuality of parts in the bigger matrix of the whole. The exhibition showcases a panoramic view of Indian art today with the intent to experiment with conventional display of art and curatorship. The collection does not revolve around a given concept or theme, but instead collects varied pieces of art from contemporary Indian scenario and collates them through an experiment with display. Each piece of art is treated as an individual within a matrix of time, differing from the other works; stylistically, by medium and/or by subject. What binds them all together is the size of the artwork, and the disparity that is ordered through the display – or otherwise known as ‘the grid’.

Exhibition: Gautama Buddha: Sculpture in Paintings by J. Kalidass Date: 16.04.10 - 27.04.10 Venue: The Gallery of Gnani Arts One Cuscaden Road #01-05 The Regent Singapore 249715

The largest international film festival in Singapore, SIFF has become significant in the Singapore arts landscape because of its dynamic film programming and commitment to the development of film culture and local cinema. The Festival screens over 200 films annually of all genres, with a focus on groundbreaking Asian cinema. Under the umbrella of the Silver Screen Awards, SIFF recognizes excellence in Asian cinema with its three awards categories – Asian Film Competition, Singapore Short Film Competition and the Singapore Film Awards introduced in 2009.

Exhibition: CHICAGO Date: 16.04.10 - 09.05.10 Venue: Esplanade Theatre 1 Esplanade Drive Singapore 038981

CHICAGO tells the tale of Roxie Hart, a nightclub dancer who dreams of heading in Vaudeville, kills her lover, then convinces her husband to come up with the $5000 to hire Chicago’s shrewdest, smoothtalking lawyer, Billy Flynn. With an all-star cast including the award-winning Sharon Millerchip (Roxie Hart) and Craig McLachlan (Billy Flynn).

Exhibition: Date: Venue:

masquerade 24.04.10 - 22.05.10 Mulan Gallery 19 Tanglin Road #02-33 Tanglin Shopping Centre Singapore 247909 This will be Singapore-born J. Kalidass’ first ever solo art exhibition. Here, conventional and historic sculptures of the Buddha are portrayed within paintings of a limited colour palette, together with a surreal touch that denotes the artist’s personal pursuit in the spiritual realm. The art in this enthralling showcase reflects the emerging artist’s highly-skillful rendition of three-dimensional attributes on flatness. Kalidass received his formal training in the art of painting at LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore).


The deliberate distortion and management of the images by the artist has a clear motive. Shiew Eng is interested in the gaze of the viewer; she makes the person self-conscious so as to reveal something about our seeing habits – the way we see gender in particular.

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15 Principles of Black Market International 18 // CONFABULATION

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The performances of BMI are exercises in derision and concentration, sacralisation and effacement. The performers try to take life seriously yet demonstrating that is worth very little, that it is held by a gesture, that is played in a moment. It is hard to describe that gesture, to say what it should look like, yet we recognize it as soon as we see it. We are familiar with metaphysics more that we want to admit and that is why we can recognize the fundamental moments of existence without even knowing what it’s about - in an epoch where the acceptance of performance as an artistic practice is not yet in the dictionaries. That is the work of BMI: create fundamental moments. And it is our job to find out why and how. In this article, we will tell you about the solo BMI performances through 15 basic principles.

Black Market International, National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland, 2007. Photo: Naranja


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The 1st principle of BMI is the privilege of encounter. The art of encounter becomes a politic of comunitas. The members don’t have a common theme; they work in open cooperation, even if it’s not often that they are produced collectively. The title Black Market (1985) is not a group but ideas at work. Each performance must set up a singular space-time complex, exhuming the structure of encounter, which is genealogically the origin of what we call “space”. The body is sublimes in space. There is also an experience of human relation that has been deposited in what seems today like an empty frame: the abstract notion of timespace. A BMI performance seeks an encounter so that we may reappropriate space and draw the invisible links that make it up.

The 2nd principle is the diversity of initial impulses. Each member can bring his own impulse. A BMI event can host guests that will bring their own impulse, but the initial autonomy must hold its course; the performer is a vehicle for experimentation. Elvira S. wants to get on a bus without paying, negotiating the fare with a small duck, asking the driver to be her accomplice. It is the idea of the singularity of gratuity (“only this time”). The impulse is accentuated by the resistance that is provoked, and by the possibilities of eventual negotiations.

Lee Wen makes visual contact with the public, and then does a ritual in which he takes small stones and bounces them on his head. Then he eats a handful of red peppers, leaving the audience in awe. We are attracted to him and the tears in his eyes make the silence more enveloping... Wen shows his capacity of being detached from himself, yet maintaining self-control. He seems to be saying: all our identities are false.

Black Market International, National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland, 2007. Photo: Naranja

The 3rd principle is the parallelism of performances. We can imagine many actors on the same stage, each one reciting his own play. The happening-condition reminds us of the human condition, each one being absorbed by his own existence, each one unraveling the thread of his own existence. There is nothing in common between Alastair M. nailing fish on the wall and Roi V. writing a spiral of words on the ground. One thing is sure and it is that we must not link the interventions because it would reduce them to “episodes”. Black Market International, LiveAction, Gotenberg, Sweden, 2009. Photo: Peter Lindl


The performances enable us to see forms of life that would otherwise go unnoticed - they are “language games” (Wittgenstein)

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Black Market International, Asiatopia 10, Bangkok, Thailand, 2008. Photo: Angie Seah

of the artist, whether or not to permit the complete success of the exchange protocol. The systematic character of the unraveling of the action and the quality of the interpersonal relationship in which the exchange is done contributes to the degree of response of the public. So Meyer’s mechanism is a link in an international transmission chain: the group from Le Lieu became solidary with the Philippines group. And more, each piece of clothing having a history, each spectator discovers how much his clothing is related to his own cultural universe. All this pushed an audacious spectator to come and give up his underwear in front of everybody in exchange for a black lace string that Helge M. had succeeded in putting on. Thanks to this last audacious act, all the process was ratified, and the public confirmed its ability to conclude the “procedural” contract and overcome idiosyncratic prudery. The spectators are not only people who are asked to be there, they participate in an action and become performers. Helge M. can go to his next festival with a bunch of Québécois clothing. Let’s hope he will find someone who will accept to take them.

The 4th principle of BMI is that it is only an artistic idea, a creative hypothesis that could not be founded on certainties that must be verified in upcoming projects that need links that are not based on our cultural backgrounds. We must then choose links (structural, affective…) beyond our cultural limits. Another way of saying that out familiar world is made of a tight web of conventional links, and all things are connected to each other in the consolidation of the evidence of the world (I didn’t understand this part!!! I skip it!) With this 4th principle, BMI is conceived as a federative idea (European inspired): a mutual political and economic union that respects the cultural specificity of each member. Within this union, the cultural differences are marked but they do not risk to be menaced by concerted actions. The political dimension must be assumed: the performer must reflect on the type of relationship he wants to have with his public. Each action questions the responsibilities of the artist and of the public which, in a given situation, has a drawing force and manifests an adhesion to the event in all its ethical and political implications. In Helge M.’s relationship with his public, a unstated contract is passed: “All the clothing I wear are the result of an exchange (in a past festival in the Philippines) I must exchange them all with you today!” When it came to the last item, feminine underwear, and the public had to decide collectively about this symbolic process of nudity


Black Market International, National Review of Live Art, Glasgow Scotland, 2008. Photo: Naranja

The 5th BMI principle is that the artist must adjust his presence in the way he feels the space, and in the way he creates a duration in time through his actions. This is an existential statement that deals with the quality of the presence and the specificity of the staging of the present.

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Ideally, the event that assembles performer and public should have no content or reason other than this “typical presence” that characterizes the artist, signaling an ontic event really taking place.

hahaha), : recognizing in ourselves the hidden hope for a better world… Performance must give the most tangible manifestation of hope, must make hope gush like and energy flowing out of immateriality.

Roi Vaara, elegant in his evening suit, starts his performance putting an alarm clock on the floor. Then he writes a series of words on the floor in a spiral. Once it is done, he swirls around and falls. He lights a cigarette and gets up, goes along the spiral in the other direction cancelling the words and replacing them by others. This performance magisterially illustrates the construction of space (the spiral) and time (the double movement centripede and centrifuge, systole and diastole), a space-time constructed hic and nunc. This vertiginal spiral of our time makes Roi V. loose his equilibrium. SO he has the good idea of changing the terms: fate (choice) etc…..

Boris N., almost nude, rolls on the gravel holding a stone to his breast. Rolling stone gathers no moss? He underlines his nakedness in a poetical action that is close to the definition that Cage gave to poetry: a “celebration of the fact that we own nothing”. It is like acts of meditation and telluric incantation, when the stone becomes the nexus of a mental concentration, a meditative exercise that transforms the gravel of any parking lot into something as precious as the Ryoanji Zen garden in Kyoto. A car with the headlights on follows him… How can the spectator abandon himself before the “unraveling” of this performance? He can evaluate the distance covered, the speed of the movement and thus the time. He can forget himself in this temporality by projecting himself in the performer’s body (when one thinks that it must be more painful in the elbows than in the shoulders), by projecting himself into the enigmatic gravel that gives a theological aura to the event. The viewer moves along to follow the action, he is attracted by the stone that accumulates presence, when Nieslony shows that the effective daily being-alive of man, despite all the mediation of our “spectacularized” society, can be re-centered in a harder core.

Black Market International, Bone 8, Bern, Switzerland, 2005. Photo: Martin Rindlisbacher

The 6th BMI principle is that the whole process must not end in a synthesis (a demonstration, a moral…), the event’s indetermination must be maintained. A direct consequence of this indetermination is that hope remains in circuit because the virtuality of the presence is not completely actualized. BMI is an event without terms, produced within events that leave us waiting for something to follow, waking up the sense of community in the hope of a future world: recognizing in ourselves a thirst for the absolute (vodka


Black Market International, Performance Art Konferenz, Berlin, Germany, 2005. Photo: Petra Arndt

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The 7th BMI principle is that time is not dissociable from the elementary presence of the artist with the public, when both negotiate each other’s presence. Since Fluxus, MACINAS was looking for “monostructural qualities…of a natural simple event”. It’s a rule of unity. This is why it is important to set a specific duration: the time of the basic event, from which we take conscience of others, element in which we get closer to each other but also in which we practice exclusion. The presence is overthrown by the passage of time because the situation is precarious and the participants are mortal. In the flux of time, objects and living people are all temporal actors, inert objects can become useful actors, and in fact they can become performers of equal value as the live ones. Cage had already discovered that all objects can “become Duchamp”. All stones, as long as they are willing to roll along with us on the gravel, would be Nieslony. With Norbert K., the flux of pedestrians walking on the sidewalk across the street from Le Lieu and that we can see through the window to his left and to his right, give the rhythm of time. The street life becomes a discreet actor in the performance. The performer throws flowers – symbol of the corruptible character of all things in time, he blows a white balloon – using breath as a component of the duration of the operation. Covered in a black veil, he passes a red thread from left to right, identifying himself with the three Parcae. There is no duration to this piece; the piece is nothing but this duration that unwinds in different ways.

The 8th principle of BMI is the exploration of ethnic and cultural dimensions that are lost in the usual tracking we do by using the most current ethno cultural markings. These aspects do not appear on the map on which we would like to frame the diversity of our times. A better knowledge of cultural territories enables us to trace the borders and to play with overlapping of cultures, hybridization and crossbreeding. We find a widening of the intermedia project that Dick Higgins is keen on, towards “interstitial” productions, intercultural poetics. Alastair M.’s performances deals with objects whose connotation is specific to certain regions: in Northern Ireland, an individual with a nylon stocking on his head that nails mackerels to the wall, doesn’t give the same impression as in, let’s say Italy. M. proposes an installation: on the wall (three small plastic ducks, three mackerels) and all the material on the floor, need an interpretation, just like the door through which he finally disappears.

Black Market International, Acciones en Route, Mexico, 2003. Photo: Jürgen Fritz

Black Market International, National Review of Live Art, Glasgow Scotland, 2008. Photo: Naranja 28 ////CONFABULATION CONFABULATION

The 9th BMI principle is that performance is an investigation of forms of attention, from the reflective or meditative attention to a purely instinctive attention. This instinct enables us to recognize instantly “what must be”, what corresponds to the right unwinding of the event, to the natural traveling of time. But we are not familiar with the logic of the event, we cannot narrate its course – it stems from an inner knowledge that is like the analogon of the structural unity of the world. Or it stems from the world that knows itself through us. APRIL 2010 // 29



The 11th BMI principle stipulates that it is in the heart of total solitude that we can find the greatest concentration that we can reach the utmost and accomplished being-entity. We think of Lee Wen’s solitude holding on to his stool to absorb the shock of his peppers, Nieslony’s solitude in which he realizes that the stone is his ally.

Black Market International, Asiatopia 10, Bnagkok, Thailand, 2008. Photo: Barbara Sturm

The 10th BMI principle is that all must occur in life. Here, we find Robert Filiou’s exhortation: “Art is where you live”. Art must be founded in life and merge with life so that in return life can take hold on art: esthetics must open the road of ethics. So the art of performance knows no limits, so life surfaces in its reinvented project, offering through its decisive actions, the impression of truth. Nieslony tries to create daily koan on life’s synopsis (Daily Life Plots Koan)

Black Market International, Performance Art Konferenz, Berlin, Germany, 2005. Photo: Petra Arndt

The 12th BMI principle aims at maintaining performance in an ontological paradox: the ambivalence of being and non-being, of visible and invisible – trying to give form to a third element, that of a differed existence, of a constantly imminent emergence. A lot of our experiences and perceptions are not stored because they don’t seem to contribute positively to our dichotomous and positivistic perception of the world. However we must find these experiences again, recognize them as sketches of another world, or of a multiplicity of worlds: as dreams dreaming themselves. Performance enables us to seize these experiences and perceptions, and to organize them according to what Daniel Charles calls “insular or compartmental structurations, rather than informative o sequential”.

Black Market International, Asiatopia 10, Bangkok, Thailand, 2008. Photo: Juliana Yasin


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Black Market International, LiveAction, Gotenberg, Sweden, 2009. Photo: Peter Lindl Black Market International, National Review of Live Art, Glasgow Scotland, 2008. Photo: Naranja

The 13th BMI principle is performativity. Performance, as seen by BMI, is not the search for a greater technical or utilitarian efficacy; it is neither the development of a narrative knowledge that may challenge the great tales of modernity, as in Lyotard’s proposed alternative. It is the performativity of a direct transmission, where saying is doing and doing is saying. In direct performativity – as in “direct provocation” – the discourse and the action merge: a thought or a word surfaces from the action, and it is a thought or a word that must become action. When accomplished, the word no longer has to be said, it becomes a virtuality of silence. Another aspect of performativity: when the literal and the figurative combine, the performative encounter will be positive and through manipulation, symbols will be either desecrated or sacralized. It is like this when Jacques V.P. makes believe he is regimenting his public, buries his flag, distributes fetishist objects, all with the help of a translator called Nathalie, in an action interspersed with the reading of chapters of Tao te King. And in the finale, a well-known Gilbert Bécaud song about a pretty guide in Moscow is played. As if we could hear this song only through the present situation we are living.


The 14th BMI principle is that we must stay away from common language; we must practice a game of non-communicative provocations that create in the end a deficit of interpretation, a hearing hindrance, and a spiritual embarrassment. Pro-vocation: provocare, “call (vocare) out”, place the voice outside, towards the outside. It is rather an ante-vocation, a call from inside. Auto-exhortation. The BMI performance, which has only a few vocal effects from the verbal sphere, suggest the passage from a verbal communication to a communication from self to self, self-oriented through vital energy. This concerns first of all the performer, who is carrying out a scenic activity disjointed from the reactions and participation of the public. Moments of energy that concern only him: Boris N. did not only carry a heavy stone, he made a crowd disappear, allowing it to become something else. On the gravel, under the highway, Nieslony is holding onto a piece of absoluteness. In fact, he is an admirer of Martin Buber, who said: “The words of he who wants to speak with human beings without speaking with God will not be accomplished; but the words of he who wants to speak with God without speaking with man will be lost”.

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21. Black Market International, National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland, 2007. Photo: Naranja

The 15th BMI principle is that all is possible. The simple fact of reminding this during a performance means inciting shock. It is putting on us the weight of the immensity of reality. Then, the room seems small, the action seems trifling, and our knowledge seems useless. The only thing we must know is that the real form of a work of art is its approaching the other, and its true color, its attraction, its impact etc., all this has no place except in the people.

Alastair MacLennan / Juliana Yasin / Helge Meyer & Marco Teubner (System HM2T) / Sabrina Koh / Boris Nieslony / Kai Lam / Elvira Santamaria-Torres / Angie Seah / Vichukorn Tanpaiboon / Melati Suryodarmo / Jeremy Hiah / Jürgen Fritz / Roi Vaara / Norbert Klassen / Jacques van Poppel / Amanda Heng / Myriam Laplante / Helge Meyer / Julie Andree T. / Zai Kuning / Lee Wen

When Roi V., sweating and panting, comes back from his vertigo, he tries to light a cigarette, but his lighter doesn’t work. Someone from the public comes up with another lighter, but Vaara crossly throws it out. We don’t leave a chance to possibilities because we determine from moment to moment what it should be! //

Myriam Laplante, Crying Ghost, Germany, 1998. Photo: Jürgen Fritz


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System HM2T (Helge Meyer & Marco Teubner), 21 Grams, Canada, 2004. Photo: HM2T

Alastair MacLennan, BALK IN TALK (8 hours performance) Sweden, 2009. Photo: Jürgen Fritz

Juliana Yasin, ‘The present (a secret)’, Australia, 2008. Photo: Richelle Spence 36 // CONFABULATION

Sabrina Koh, The Questioning Room, Germany, 2008. Photo: Sabrina Koh APRIL 2010 // 37



Kai Lam, Untitled (In the Name of...), Spain, 2009. Photo: Juan Casellas

Boris Nieslony, A Feather Fell Down on Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2007. Photo: Jesse Clockwork


Elvira Santamaria-Torres Carmaquia With Roses, Sweden. 2009. Photo: Giovanni Salaris. APRIL 2010 // 39


Angie Seah, The Samurai Melancholia, Japan, 2009. Photo: Hitomi

Vichukorn Tangpaiboon, Across The Line, Indonesia, 2009. Photo: Andri B.



Melati Suryodarmo, AlĂŠ Lino, Germany, 2007. Photo: Reinhard Lutz

Jeremy Hiah, Mr One Cent, China, 2009. Photo: Arai Shinichi

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Roi Vaara, 7x7 Chairs, USA, 2009. Photo: Pekka Kainulainen

J端rgen Fritz, Sitting With Sticks, Indonesia, 2008. Photo: Christine Biehler


Norbert Klassen, Viva Fluxus! Germany, 2009. Photo: Norbert Klassen

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Jacques Van Poppel, Self Medication0, Canada, 2009. Photo: Rebecca Belmore

Amanda Heng, Let’s Walk, Sweden, 2009. Photo: Peter Lind


Myriam Laplante, Mutant Mermaid. Germany, 1996. Photo by Jürgen Fritz

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Artist’s brief

Alastair MacLennan

The work is in part based on the realization that one can learn more of contemporary, ‘international’ culture from what it throws away, than from what it retains, a sort of recreation of the self-image. Helge Meyer Wann? When?, Germany, 2008. Photo: Peter M. Glantz.

Juliana Yasin

Souvenirs and tokens of affection may come to represent the past or the absent loved one. Collaboration is an exchange; ‘the present (a secret)’ is an intimate exchange between Juliana and Australian artist Cassandra Shultz.

Helge Meyer & Marco Teubner (System HM2T) Julie Andrée T. Climbing The Sky China, 2009. Photo: He Chengyao

Zai Kuning Mr One Cent, China, 2009. Photo: Arai Shinichi

System HM2T worked with the idea of the weight of the soul, 21 grams which apparently the weight of the soul. A myth says that our body in the moment of death losses 21 grams in weight. Through an examination of different body parts and scientific ideas of the body, System HM2T tried to find the truth.

Sabrina Koh

This site specific performance congests 2 coexisting systems into action; art and religion, supported by questions that may have no answers at the end of the day.

Boris Nieslony

Anthropometry Revision:Yellow period (after Yves Klein) #2. By Lee Wen with Lynn Lu, Arai Shinichi, music by Kai Lam and Jeremy Hiah, Singapore 2008. Photo by Chua Soo Bin 46 // CONFABULATION

Performance artist Siu Lan Ko (Hong Kong) reads 30 names of countries in a deliberately slow manner. The citizens of these countries died from capital punishment and human rights violations. With the naming of each country, Boris smashed a glass on his head. APRIL 2010 // 47


Kai Lam

This action started with the collection of portraits of artists who had passed away in the last twenty years. It is a performance paying homage to artists, writers and cultural producers, whose individual and collective works had inspired and informed Kai’s own art practice.


Elvira covered her left leg with red roses and made her way to the street. At the traffic junction she made simple gestures in relation to the red traffic light. Ordinary relationships were exposed to the symbolic yet concrete actions.

Angie Seah

Matsushiro is an old castle town of samurai families. Seah chances upon an accidental collaboration with a samurai, who was practicing his sword in the samurai school during the performance.

Vichukorn Tangpaiboon

By observing situations and evidences of his socio and political surroundings and environment, Vichukorn (Jon) constructs poetical actions in his performances. Through the immediate space of emotions and logics he creates his performance, where the public can enter his world without touching it.

Melati Suryodarmo

Alé Lino is a durational performance in which Melati stands on a plinth for three hours, with a pole pointing at her upper body. The performance was based on Melati’s research on the practice of the Bissus among the Bugis society in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.



Jeremy Hiah

Amanda Heng

This is a durational performance where Jeremy glued coins to a tuxedo, while wearing a balaclava, after which he wore and paraded his money-made suit wielding two huge meat cleavers to the audience.

A performance series employing the act of walking and the pleasure that derives from it. In the course of walking, Amanda and the participants explore and discover the relations and possibilities of the urban cities.

Jürgen Fritz

Myriam Laplante

Jürgen has performed this action on various occasions and sites. In this durational performance of 6 hours, it was important for him to concentrate and sustain physical effort, which resulted in a sculpture and was eventually transformed into a performative image.

Roi Vaara

Seven piles of chairs were laid in a row. Roi re-arranged the chairs, stacking them precariously. Finally the stacked chairs collapsed. During the performance, words of world news were audible.

Norbert Klassen

Norbert played with two hammers - hitting one against the other - in a 4/4 rhythm for quite some time until he stopped on the two beat and held the pose. Keeping attention through presence and purpose, he convinced the audience that there is something happening beyond the everyday while simultaneously paying extreme attention to the everyday.

Jacques van Poppel

In these performances Jacques invented situations, that break preconceived assumptions and welcome an intimacy with the audience through an original way of using objects to create a collage of imaginative interpretations and actions, which reclaims the infinite possibility of performance art.

Myriam was a mermaid, as a result of genetic mutations: she grew a fur tail and 3 breasts, dying by the riverside with furry fish that wiggle and cry (until their batteries died).

Helge Meyer

In an experimental theatre space, Helge uses different materials to explore the passing of time. He uses maggots as co-performers, whose movements create different images on the floor and on his body.

Julie Andrée T

In this performance, Julie plays with the binaries of strong and fragile, red and blue, identity and object. She is trying to reach the impossible, yet just being a moving drawing.

Zai Kuning

This is a durational performance where Jeremy glued coins to a tuxedo, while wearing a balaclava, after which he wore and paraded his moneymade suit wielding two huge meat cleavers to the audience.

Lee Wen

Based on the explorations by Yves Klein, Wen re-opened discussions of Klein’s work in contemporary situation and raises questions such as ‘why should the bodies be that of the female only?’ and ‘what is the position of painting in contemporary art practice with reference to Yves Klein and performance art? APRIL 2010 // 49


A Confoundedly Confutative Construal

A Confoundedly Confutative Construal: Performing the Perception of Performance Text: Bruce Quek

I have been performing for around five years. I don’t mean that in the sense of ‘Over the past five years or so, I have assiduously maintained a reasonably well-regarded performative practice.’ I mean that right now, as I’m writing this, I am still performing. On the other hand, I might very well not be performing, insofar as I only recently remembered that I might have been performing since 2005, and it hardly counts if I cheat retroactively. This regrettably confusing state of affairs has its origin at a friend’s event, a party of sorts with music, artwork and poetry. During this event, I had decided to present a performance piece that consisted, quite simply, of two declarations: that a performance would soon commence, and, some time later, that a performance had ended. Only the first declaration was made, though, and if we follow the logic of it to its dreadful end, I have been performing continuously since then. If we ascribe validity to this accident, an unavoidable consequence is that my perception of (and reaction to) performances over the past few years has been undertaken from the perspective of performance itself. This would include the readily apparent, such as sotto voce commentary or walking out on a boring performance, as well as such infinitesimals as, say, the mental visualisation of the fantastical futurity of Duan Ying Mei’s Yingmei, or the innervation of extraocular musculature in observing Cai Qing’s Transformation at the last Future of Imagination.

Tang Da Wu, Untitled,Singapore 2008. Photo by Bruce Quek


Such physical manifestations reflect the role I assume when encountering art, that of the suspicious peasant – intelligent, yet lacking in codes and contexts, wary of APRIL 2010 // 51


glibness and perpetually half-convinced that he has somehow been hoodwinked; a notional everyman denied generality by the city without memory. In other words, the approach is a sort of fictive paranoiacnaïveté, a situational deprecation of given aspects of the performance reliant on factors external to the performance – not, as a recently publicised study might imply, to enhance appreciation, but as a speculative inquiry concerning probable responses by a hypothetical outsider, as problematic as such a figure may be. Even when doubled by the aforementioned accident, in terms of perceptible stimuli such a role remains largely covert – unless the artist in question is, say, easily affected by gimlet-eyed stares and disconsolate mutterings. Unilateral action exceeding what may be typically observed in percipients is not, however, a prerequisite of performativity; in discussing the dramaturgy of the spectator in theatrical space, the theatre historian Marco de Marinis observes that the relative positioning of the performance and the percipients has a significant effect on the perception of the performance. Likewise, we may observe that this relative positioning would also have a significant effect on the performance; unless the artist initiates contact, one is admonished not to stray too close – suggesting a precarious equilibrium, not unlike photography, which balances uneasily between what it reveals and occludes. Nor are accidents required for perception to be performative; for instance, in Nightsea Crossing: The Observer (1984), an edition of Nightsea Crossing (1981-1987), Marina Abramovic and Ulay inducted Rémy Zaugg as a performative percipient, deliberately interposed between the supposed audience and the artists – to the extent that in the


A Confoundedly Confutative Construal

subsequent video, the back of Zaugg’s head fills most of the frame, the smoke of his cigarette occasionally obliterating Abramovic and Ulay. However, while Zaugg’s presence as a performer-percipient questions the viability of both roles, the critique loses a certain amount of force when one notes that Zaugg had been deliberately included, and the overall effect of his role had, to some extent, been anticipated, incorporated and curtailed. The monolithic presence of such a performer-sponsored percipient-performer would seem to restrict the performative potential of the general mass of percipients, reinvesting the authority of the artist in the performance space in permitting a limited re-negotiation of the percipient’s role. It would seem, therefore, that any apparent attempt on the part of the artist to question or alter the role of the percipient leads, ironically enough, to the solidification of their respective roles. Parallel to this would be exhibition texts for ostensibly interactive artworks that enjoin the interaction of the percipient, reducing interaction to simple obedience. Good percipient! You twiddled the knob, well done. However, supposing the distinction between percipient and performer were to be discarded, we might substitute Roland Barthes’ figure of the scriptor; given the contemporaneous nature of performance art, such a translation might be particularly apt, insofar as Barthes noted that the scriptor is born simultaneously with his text. Thus, as opposed to a defined separation between performer and percipient, there is a given set of scriptors, with fluctuating values of performativity and perception at any given time – an agonistic approach to performance dialogue.

The upshot of this would be that what we would conventionally designate as an audience is not, by default, a passive receptor of the artist’s transformative performance. By default, the socalled audience is instead a loose conglomeration of performative individuals, acting in concert with the apparent performance. This is not just to say that the percipient is an active participant in the process of meaning-making, or the interpretation of a performance that is presented to them – Rather, as scriptors coequal to the apparent performer, their participation is a fundamental determinant of the overall situation. Perhaps an interesting effect of such participatory pluralisation, in its riotous cacophony, would be the transition from the revelation of a single truth, or even variable truths generated by individual reading to a field of occultations and deceptions; from Elysium to elisions. As a fertile field of risk, such situations may be distinguished from another apparently participatory phenomenon of recent years – the flash mob, which might be readily defined by such retrograde terms as obedience and resorbability, if postings on the artscommunity mailing list are anything to go by. Discarding such facile formulations, we might consider the possibility that a Carnivalesque plurality of consciousnesses remains viable, though it remains to be seen what form such a thing might take under present conditions. All such matters aside, what of the performative accident at the origin of this trajectory of inquiry? A dimly remembered event attested to by nothing and no-one, adrift in an indeterminate limbo. In being revealed, however, it attains a fleeting brilliance, a decaying satellite screaming through the stratosphere. It is fitting that a project of uncertain origin achieves a definitive denouement – prolonging it would be cheekily facetious, an interminably stale game of Guess-the-Intent to which the only response would be a short, sharp poke in the eye. So if you, fellow scriptor, are inclined to agree, these are the very last words of the performance. //

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Talking shop with Noor Effendy Ibrahim Text: Richard Chua


Richard Chua: I know you hate classifications. But for the benefit of the readers of this interview (and I know you will kill me for this) I am going to choose the best label for you – Contemporary art. Contemporary refers to the present, now. Art that reflects what’s going now is called contemporary art. Can? Noor Effendy Ibrahim: (With great non-chalance) Ok.

Now you make me look like an idiot (Laughs). Ok. What’s theatre to you? Is it an experience? Or, maybe we could put it in more general terms, when you are doing your “wellknown” contraption. It is an experience of sort. It is more practice, actually. Experience may not be rigourous enough. It is more of the practice, as in how do I strategise the practice and formulate the practice.

Rigour, from an artist’s point of view? Experience is just momentary. It is very specific. Experience is a state of consciousness, or the subconscious, where you remember something you did but not immediately sensed. Experience is part of a bigger thing, the practice. I am not looking at the product. The practice will inform where the product is heading towards. The practice does not restrict on a particular project, but time. It is not like I could isolate a project and focused on it. I usually think of something else when I am working a project. Like, right now, as the artistic director of The Substation, I am also thinking of other things. How these things inform or inspire certain decisions I have to make, as an Artistic Director (AD). My negotiations and practice also informs me. So when I meet different artists, policy-makers etc, with due considerations given to these constraints, CSOs and others, it informs back.

Effendy Ibrahim (with Jason Lim), Si Woof Woof, Singapore, 2006. Photo by Effendy Ibrahim.


It is getting more and more abstract. Let me try to make sense of this so that this interview will not become an selfindulgent affair. Can I say that your practice is more about dealing with problems that come you way? Now, being an AD, you encounter different problems, so as we negotiate your way through them, there must a aim, a destination, and manymore destinations. How would your thought process like, to first go with the flow, or subvert it? APRIL 2010 // 55


It is a mix of all, depending on the situation. I am very conscious of my environment and problems that come to me in the moment. Sometimes I have to subvert it, sometimes make a U-turn, or even to challenge it.

What’s the difference, the problems you encounter in a performance art piece, as opposed to a theatre production? In a nutshell, in theatre we usually work with living objects, and in your other practice, in performance art, with non-living objects? What are the problems, and in turn relationships? Do you love human beings more, for they have emotions? I see them as extensions. Hence, my machines; they are extensions to the bodies, or bodies are extensions to the machines. But that doesn’t mean that they should be literal extensions. For example, I could still perform in an empty space where the space between me, and, for example, the wall, or the audience member, is an extension. It should be highly charged space. How they see, how they smell, how they feel, how they remember the viscerality of what’s happening before their eyes, or how it invokes their senses. That space between me, or the performance, and that person, needs to be highly charged. So when I create a work, even in theatre, what’s the space on the stage (the performance space), between the stage and audience? I am not a fan of proscenium staging. For me the most ideal space is environmental theatre, where people are in the space. These people cannot merely be voyuers. They should be really active participants, even as a passive event-watching audience. So, I think, what’s important to me is to create the space in-between, the meeting



point. The meeting point is a place is where the performance is also responding to how audiences engage it or responding to it. It is much easier to achieve this in performance art, but for theatre, it is definitely more rehearsed, more controlled and contained. But at the same time, it is also a live performance. Every actor will definitely have different performances every time they do it. I usually will leave the space open so that actors could own that space, so that they are able to respond.

And also they are able to change... Eveything will be formed by how audiences respond to them. That does not mean playing up to the audiences. No, it is not about that. It is about being in the character. The character needs to be there, in that moment.

I see a difference. A spectator in live arts, in relationship with the performance artist, will find ease in responding to each other, given the time and space both share. You would want them to more active than passive. This can also be archieved in the theatre? Actually spectators in performance art are usually more active than passive. Passive is more apt to describe audiences in the theatre, or they come into the theatre thinking that they are passive.

Ah! Then right after they watch the performance, they might realise that they are more active than they thought they would be. Does this apply to both performance art spectators and theatre audiences? The most challenging thing is that performance art spectators have to sit down throughout the performance. For example, if there is no smell, how could they smell something in the performance, there and

then, at that moment; the sweat, the blood. In the theatre, it is still rather performative -- in the way how theatre understands it -- theatricality, not living.

Switch off all the theatre lights, up the house lights and get the actors to right to the audience to interact with the audience members! That blurs the lines. But it is still a very controlled theatre event. What’s most important is to make the audience members complicit with what’s happening on stage? What’s happening on stage is to play the reality.

Ok, we are moving into murky waters here. Confusion, it is. An audience member in theatre has to paricipate in the reality on stage, not reality in a traditional sense, but with what’s going on on stage and establishing a relationship with it. On a contrary, in performance art, spectators are involved directly with the performance artist in that space, at that time. Lots of similarities here. So what’s the intricate differences? Suspension of disbelief.

In theatre, we suspend disbelief, and belief. In performance art, we have nothing to suspend. It is there. In the theatre, I want to make audience members suspend and yet not suspend their disbelief.

Damn, cruel, lor, you! (Laughs) You see! It is what’s happening on stage... regardless whether it is theatre or not!

You know what’s most exciting on a theatre stage? It is when an actor’s dress, mustache, wig drops right to the ground. For that moment, we all know that it is real, and we are waiting for the real thing that’s going to happen, not rehearsed, just like people watching the World Cup; It is not about the ball, it is about how players conduct themselves too. That moment is also a rather “performance art” moment? Somewhat, yeah! (drinks coffee) //

APRIL 2010 // 57



A Brief on Asian Performance Art

A Brief on Asian Performance Art

Original text in Chinese: 蔡青 Qing Sonnenberg Translated to English: Richard Chua

I moved to Singapore from New York two years ago, aimed at providing convenience for me to return to China and other neighbouring countries for performance art events. Performance art in Asia is bustling with life, those participating in them filled with fervour liken that of a devotee of a religion. There are many excellent art-works here. For example, in October 2008, Taiwan performance artist Lin Qi Wei’s spectator interactive piece in the UP-ON International Performance Art Festival in Chengdu, China is one good example. He made the spectators sit together, while dishing out strips of cloths from the centre of the sitting area with repeated and ‘hybrid’ words written on them. All spectators chanted the words and made them into a melody, with occasional single tones rising from the midst. In this sea of melody, we could sense the united-ness of Asian performance artists. Performance art in China is on the rise, mainly due to rapid developments in the arts market. But some performance artist still turn to painting as profession. For paintings are of demand, not the works of a performance artist. In Chengdu, Sichuan and Xian, performance art is still Cai Qing Sadness of A Rock on Mekong River, Thailand, 2009. Photo: Jeremy Hiah


APRIL 2010 // 59


active. In fact, Chengdu is considered one of the biggest performance art districts in China. Artists Zhou Bin and Chen Mo are key figures in the scene. For many young performance artists are constantly presenting their works in the midst of veterans. Just like artist Xiang Xi Shi in Xian, he has been organising a small performance art festival called Gu Yu Performance Art Festival during the Chinese New Year season. Not forgetting another venue in Beijing, Song Zhuang, Xian’s Wang Chu Yu have gathered fellow performance art colleagues in presenting The Square Performance Art Workshops on the 10th of every calendar month. Workshop venues get rotated among the said artists residence or studios. In Singapore, the Future of Imagination 5 International Performance Art Festival is probably the most intricate performance art festival I have ever attended. From the selection of artists to the actual planning of the festival, everything was well taken care of. Till date, the impression Polish performance artist Dariuz Fodczuk left in me was fresh, for his piece The Tiny Therapeutic Theatre was indeed a surprising piece of work, allowing people to get into wild imaginations. In addition, Belgian artist Gwendoline Robin’s work Where is the Future? was also impressive. She actually set fire to her helmet, resulting in a ball of fire right on top of her head. Indonesian artist Melati Suryodarno’s Rainbow and Singapore artist Jason Lim’s The Last Drop were also very intricate. Impressive, indeed. 60 // CONFABULATION

A Brief on Asian Performance Art

At year end in 2008, I was fortunate to have attended the 10th Asiatopia International Performance Art Festival in Thailand, and saw a renowned collective Black Market’s collective performance. This international group has invited Singaporean performance artist Lee Wen as one of their members; a significant addition to the group giving it an international stature. In that performance lasting 2 hours, they had also invited Singaporean artist Jason Lim into the performance. Jason Lim’s nuanced actions have made the performance even more memorable. The very next year end in 2009, I attended Thai performance artists ‘s festival called the Mekong River Project, an event orgainzed by artists Jittima Pholsawek and Paisan Plienbangchang. We travelled down the river, going against the currents; researching, observing, creating, for 3 weeks. This activity -- as a performance art event -- is a direct response to building of a dam, where the project has contributed to the damage of the natural ecological system in that area. They had hoped that the event would be an effective response.

Jason Lim, Last Drop, 7a*11d, Toronto, Canada, 2008. Photo: Henry Chan

Black Market International, LiveAction 09, Gotenberg, Sweden, 2009. Photo: Peter Lindl and Christian Brevens

Recently Singaporean performance artist Lee Wen has initiated a project called Rooted in The Ephemeral Speak (RITES) , where performance artists could choose a venue of their choice to showcase their works, aimed at linking up performance art and everyday activities, not to represent performance art as a “performance on stage”. This is indeed a fresh start.

Jason Lim, Last Drop, 7a*11d, Toronto, Canada, 2008. Photo: Henry Chan

As an artist staying in Singapore, located in the rich Southeast Asia, I hope I could travel to more neighbouring countries, getting into the pulse of performance art in this region and to participate in them. //

Black Market International, LiveAction 09, Gotenberg, Sweden, 2009. Photo: Peter Lindl and Christian Brevens

What moved me most is the festival entitled Bunga 2001 in the Philippines. The organizers, together with the artists, has gathered everybody together, resulting in great unity among the artists and organizers. As much as limited financial resources is a problem, they have made the festival a success, albeit in meagre resources. In addition, their vigour and enthusiasm has also been shown in their performance art performances.

Jason Lim, Last Drop, 7a*11d, Toronto, Canada, 2008. Photo: Henry Chan APRIL 2010 // 61


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+ Art directory

Leading visitors on a walking tour in a dark warehouse, Lynn reads excerpts from love letters written by historical figures (King Henry VIII, Beethoven, et al) to their partners, in romances that ultimately crashed and burned. From time to time, she takes a flash photograph of a blank wall. The blinding light charges up corresponding post-heartbreak realizations of her own, written in glowin-the-dark paint. The text glows for a few moments, then fades back into the shadows. // Lynn Lu When Love Departs, Reason Returns (or, Notes To Self For Next Time), Singapore, 2009. Photo: Tan Ngiap Heng and Lynn Lu


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APRIL 2010 // 65



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APRIL 2010 // 67



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APRIL 2010 // 69


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Art of the meeting Black Market International Kunst der Begegnung Text: June Yap

There is no good translation for the German ‘Begegnung’. It relies a lot on the definition of ‘communitas’ which Victor Turner mentions in his book From Ritual to Theater: The Human Seriousness of Play (2001). Performance Art as a picture of events that constitutes the society - the gesture of Black Market International - Boris Nieslony

June Yap: Let’s start with a line lifted from the publicity info for the Future of Imagination, “the title ‘Black Market’ does not designate a group, but rather an idea of working”. What is this ‘idea of working’ that grounds BMI’s public activities? Boris Nielsony: In the 1970s, when I was running a space for performance, installation and intermedia art, I met so many people, not just artists, with an interest in cooperation and collaboration. For myself, it was a profound question: how can people, artists, work together and how can I frame this kind of encountering. Some facts were seminal for me: that there should be no leadership, an open situation, no guidelines in themes and aesthetic paths, an exchange of values as a pure encounter. For this kind of framework, I had had some experiences since 1980, particularly in the project ‘The Council’ (1981), and we came to, in a discussion with Zygmunt Piotrowski, the name, Black Market.

How does one, or collectively, operate to resist the pull to centralise, thematise, and be read in this manner? There is no description for works I do as a performance. BMI is a performance, when I write it down, I’m a writer, not a performer.

You mentioned that the decision to invite particular individuals to participate in BMI is based on their practice. What sort of performance practices and artists are then considered ‘interesting’ to BMI, or have been the reason for their invitation to be part of BMI’s work? To be a professional, to be a ‘figure’ (a character), to be full of utopian thoughts, to be full of love for fellow humans, to be radical.

How is ‘radical’ defined? [The Council project was realised in September 1981 in Stuttgart in collaboration with the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, organized by Uli Bernhardt. It was a 30-day performance, 24 hours of each day. We invited 40 artists, (70 finally became involved) from Europe and Germany to confront contemporary questions. In the field of contemporary art, performance and social activities. The research for the project focused more on the thoughts within our heads, the feelings within our souls and our social behaviour. The one-month research resulted in a lot of elements, ideas and tools, from which some basic projects were then built upon.] The term black market suggests trafficking, resistance and critique. However the parallel performances that are presented under the framework of BMI cannot help but be read as related. It is not trafficking but an exchange of values which are not compatible in the traditional cultural market. Cultural values, developed by the each participants from his own life, in his cultural and social education and behaviour. When we do not fail, the audiences will get to see one work. The audience asks no questions. When we fail – the audience will see several, good performances at the same time, in the same space. In Black Market we do not raise the question about being a collective, about being a group, or cooperation, leadership and so on. We have to eliminate these questions when we work. The fact is the work itself. How we encounter, is for us dependent on the selection of individuals we invite. The selection is based on the practices of the various artists we meet at different festivals and such. We do not have to create a collective aesthetic. No BMI work is the same. We do not know what will emerge, when a BMI work takes place (and when we do not fail).


It is without any description, without any relation, to be real as a character, as a work. For example in The Third Network- a poetical mode of collaboration [a work by BN from 1980]: Persons in the intellectual network cannot form groups, not to mention any type of society. Networking becomes a spirit, an attitude, a lifestyle in the social capacity with subversive tactics, which result from ethical notions, without establishing rules of a social order (i.e. without moral judgement). The intellectual personality is not creative, he lives in the encounter with other persons, at the same time with living and dead persons. This person is not active, does not work. He/she is in attention. The mental being, the ritual life, is the community of the “ART of ACTION”. The mental being between the persons, objects, spaces and times transforms the “between” into the incomparable.

What do you foresee for the BMI performance at FOI? Nothing. We will give a very good performance without any question of predictions, plans or hopes. It will be good!

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APRIL 2010 // 73


masquerade by Hii Shiew Eng

Neon VI, 90 x 120 cm, Oil on Canvas Roi stands on a frozen sea, 50km east of Helsinki. In this performance, he shares with the viewers the moments of life and to convey the feelings of existence through an art form that is direct. Artist’s Dilemma is a performance made for the camera. Roi Vaara Artist’s Dilemma (video still), Finland 1997. Photo: Naranja


24 April - 22 May 2010

MULAN GALLERY 19 Tanglin Road #02-33 Tanglin Shopping Centre Singapore 247909 T: (65) 6738 0810 | E: APRIL 2010 // 75



APRIL 2010 // 1 Organised by: 2 // CONFABULATION APRIL 2010 // 3 4 // CONFABULATION APRIL 2010 // 5 6 // CONFABULATION APRIL 2010 // 7 8 //...

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