Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Taste of the City by Esther Yip

Esther Yip's Taste of the City was exhibited at Cityzening, UP Vargas Museum 11Oct-Nov 2012

Considerations, challenges, triumphs, rooms for improvement of an independent art project

Delivered during artist talk for Dezipcoding 17Nov at SAM 8Q with theme Circumstances Engineering: Art initiative as social experiment

In 2010, I had the chance to look into the collection database of Singapore Art Museum that had been turned over to The National Art Gallery Singapore (now known as NAGA). At the same time the Collection and Curatorial Division headed by Low Sze Wee was working on a series of Singapore Master’s Exhibit including Cheong Soo Pieng, Yeh Chi Wei, Lui Kang, among others.

Let me bring you to the visual zone. These are the things I saw on CSP's works and these were my thoughts: [content purged, photos comparing CSP and Phil late moderns cannot be uploaded because they are owned by NAGA and I have not acquired permission to publish]. To summarize however, points of comparison were: form, composition and visual texture; for subject landscapes, images vernacular architecture, harbor/port, still life, women as muse, women as exotic, etc. 

I don’t know if it was just me missing home or it is already actually a light blub moment saying that it might be a good idea to put them together in a show. Art audience then will see that Singapore, does have something in its creative arsenal.

Many other things happened in between, but two conversations cemented my ideas on what is to be known today as Project Glocal. First, my teacher, Patrick Flores, curator of Vargas Museum, made me realize that curating old works will be a logistic nightmare.  With my original SG-PI project idea, the operative word is “old”, I have to double efforts ensuring security, exhibition space condition, insurance, paper works, research, among other things.  Another conversation was with arts managers while I was in University of London.  This was where I encountered “glocal” approach, especially when working with contemporary artists— as a simplified actualization of local and global phenomena—though, leaning largely on ‘managing’ creative enterprises aka how to view art as a business—this conversation was translated in my head as a probable if not actually a possible art project.

Considerations and Challenges
The major consideration of this project is finding artists.  Without the artists, there is no Project Glocal. So, how did I meet them? Long time ago, I saw Michael Lee and Jason Wee’s work in the Singapore Biennale (even before my Arts Associate Residency). Then, when I already had the seed of Project Glocal in my head, I talked to Yong Shu Hoong, a poet, an alumni of SIF and a friend. Originally my intention was to bounce the idea off to him, just so I get feedback if my head is in the right place.  Next thing he was helping me find Jason Wee or Michael Lee or Ang SooKoon or Song Ming Ang or all of the above.  I flew to Singapore and met the two gentlemen, Wee and Lee, after a “reprieve.” They gave me more names (Tang Ling Nah, Joo Choon Lin, Genevieve Chua [not with the project anymore]). Much later Ling Nah introduced me to Black Baroque Committee and Urich Lau. And the Team Singapore was complete.

For Bangkok, I emailed Win, Vichaya Mukdamanee, also an alumni of SIF arts associate and sounded off the project idea to him. Immediately he said “Yes, I’m in.” Few more days, he was sending me portfolio of possible artist participants. So we had Win, Warawut, Rutheirat and Preeyachanok. Mideo Cruz (of Manila) recommended Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy and Thosapol Boriboon. Then on the first art trip to Bangkok I saw Wantanee Siripattananuntakul. Team Bangkok complete.

In forming team Manila this was how it happened. Anton del Castillo and Riel Hilario were the first I invited; then Anton recommended Mideo Cruz and Marc Gaba (not with the project anymore); then I called Irma Lacorte, Mark Salvatus and Mac Valdezco (not with the project anymore). Later on Karen Flores, past-director of Cultural Center of the Philippines Division on Visual Arts recommended Mimi Tecson and Wesley Valenzuela. Team Manila complete.

 For HongKong, I first contacted Jaffa Lam, who is a co-alumni of Asian Cultural Council, like Anton, Mideo, Irma, Riel, Mark and myself. Jaffa recommended Tam WaiPing, Lukas Ching, Francis Yu and Ho Siu Kee. Then I found Tang Kwok Hin in a Michael Lee catalogue and online. Also Esther Yip Lai Man I found online.  Team HongKong was completed in 2 emails. Jaffa also recommended Bundith Phomsambartlert to be added in team Bangkok. He was with us for about 6 months but we couldn’t bring his work throughout because he is based in America.  And his work will concern too much funding.
This brings me to challenge number one: money. How can I ask anybody to make my idea happen and make them spend their own money along the way? There is no one decent answer for this question; at least none that can go in on textbooks. But here’s what happened. On my end, I sent proposal to any possible grant giving body, foundations, corporations, politicians, etc. I know for sure same goes for Win, Ling Nah and Urich. Some of those we approached (like SIF) did support us.  But the bulk of expenses in purely on us.  This is not all bad news though; I guess this is one reason why the project isn’t just mine now, but Ours.  We have all invested on it one way or another.

Challenge number two is time.  The artists that are involved in this project, at least 80% of them are active practitioners. By this I mean, they have an exhibit at least 3 times a year, plus residencies, plus conference, plus publication, plus classes, etc. This means also that we have to make time. And in committed conversations such as this project 1 hour a day is not enough.  Since we are far away, I needed to talk to them at least once a week, 1 hour or 1 email per person—it is but human to forget other things—and the point of a reminder is to make our project not an other thing.

Challenge number three is character. No matter how much we say that geopolitik is but geo, we still are different people from different cultures. And an icing on the cake, we are artists. The cliché is not true—artists are not bi-polar; they are multi-polar. We can create temperaments as there are many colors Pantone can offer.  The aim is to find way to understand each other. And the trick is to find the sweetspot and deal with them while they are on that zone.  Doing this for 1 person is difficult. Doing this with all 30 of them is…well Project Glocal.

Challenge number four and I would like to say is the easiest—art.  Gelling our art agenda together is easy. I chose them under a framework and the rest of the job is just keeping them in that framework or making them move from one framework to the other. A lot of this job has to do with reaping the fruits of 2nd and 3rd challenge (time and character). A wise person once told me that the only way to make people do what you want them to do is to pay them or befriend them. Since I don’t have the previous, I capitalize on the latter. Confidently I would say that our art manifests as a product of friendship. Yes, I am not the over intellectualized curator. I am one of those ridiculously romantic curator who believes that heart has to do with art, as Ella Wheeler Willcox would say.

There are three measures of success for our project:
One is getting things done, whether it is simply going around for an art walk, having a simple art talk, doing a satellite show or building a big show or producing the book; if we can get this done somehow, then we are ok. We don’t target spectacle. We have no cause to awe, we are not magicians or circus act—we are human. Having things done is allowing mistakes and little compromises in guise of spontaneity. This we were able to achieve in the 18 months of our relationship.

Two is keeping relationship. To date, this is perhaps our biggest triumph.  Knowing people is easy. This is Facebook’s realm.  Building relationship is another thing but keeping relationship is a whole different story. You just have to spend a meal with us to find proof to this.  We are not co-workers but friends who are trying to work together. Like how Win jokingly puts it the other day, “take care of your brothers.” In 2013, we have no plans to put up an exhibit. I also do not have any schedule to city-hop, so our relationship will be put to the test. Having said this, I secretly pray to the muses of the arts to keep us and help us prove that we indeed built a relationship worth keeping.

If one fine day, sometime next year, one of them (or all of them, if I am lucky) dropped me a message to say something like: what’s the next plan or where are we going next? Then this is the Mount Olympus of our triumphs. When the artists themselves takes the lead to get together, either for a project or for whatever, then I can go to a saloon and have myself pampered, because my work here is done—I come out beautiful and triumphant. 

Rooms for improvement
Rooms for improvement are spread-out between our challenges and triumphs. Picking out which ones we should improve and which one to ignore...well there is just too many at this point.  We would be threshing it out when we are finally able to sleep and left the high zone of in the middle of partying crowd.

This Dragon Year proved to be kind to me.  This is an exciting time; exciting enough for me to boast that Project Glocal has the potential to become a colossal project. But then again, I am realistic enough to admit that failures, shortcomings and low points of this project are ties that bind us on the ground.  Being reminded constantly that our Project is just a project among the many is precious. It never stops reminding us to wish that history (art history), hopefully will judge us fairly. 
Thank you and good afternoon.   

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ferry Tales by Riel Hilario

A day in life beside a body of water...for Dezipcoding Riel Hilario contributed a series of moving drawings featuring water vessels, cityscapes and landmarks.

Documentation of Video Car: Vision Collision by Urich Lau

Finding a home, building one & tearing one by Ling-Nah Tang

A documentation of the performance that accompanied Ling-Nah's work Finding a home, building one & tearing one at Project Glocal's Cityzening, exhibited 11Oct-11Nov at University of the Philippines Jorge Vargas Museum.

Performer: JM Cabling
Musician: Roan Opiso
Artist assistants: Anjo Bolarda, Ben Caliwara, RG Salazar

Clean State by Irma Lacorte, Mark Salvatus & Ling-Nah Tang

This was produced for Project Glocal's Dezipcoding on view in DiverseCity at SAM 8Q from 15Nov to 2Dec 2012.


Lady Tree in Manila

Lady Tree is a sculpture done by Jaffa Lam.

For Dezipcoding, our exhibit in DiverseCity at SAM 8Q, Anton del Castillo collaborated with Jaffa.  He situated the Lady Tree in Manila with a time lapse video of the tree and Manila streets.

The Lady Tree came from HongKong, it went to Shanghai in September and Manila in October. From 12Nov to 2Dec, they (the video and the tree) will be in Singapore before going back to HongKong.

Follow this link to view the video:

Dezipcoding: Project Glocal @ DiverseCity 8Q SAM

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rhizoming: Producing an independent curatorial project in Southeast Asia

[prepared for Southeast Asia Art Exchange, July 28, 2012, New Zero Art, Yangon, Myanmar]

            Let me first illustrate the context where I am coming from.  In my country, the Philippines, a teacher will tell you “Go home and plant camote (sweet yam)!”; by which she means, because you are no good in school you better consider being “just” a farmer.  In a country where art profession is an unpopular career, this seems appropriate.  I thought it is interesting to combine this local expression burdened by its local connotation with the palatable complexity of Gilles Delueze’ Rhizome philosophy[1] and somehow emphasize that art is a walking irony.
            Throughout the presentation, I used the metaphor of planting camote in relating my experience in producing curatorial project in Southeast Asian cities. 

Location Where I plant camote?
            Southeast Asia being a political boundary exists with all types of politics.  The borders are cartographically clear but culturally fluid.  For the purpose of my own research, I veered away from the border and focused on the center, particularly the Central Business District, its immediate outskirts which are usually entrepreneurial and residential districts, the emerging city which has the same quality of the outskirt city and the CBD combined, and the transient cities which is a melting pot of all sorts of trade—this is what I call the city.  A city is a place where people are not permanently engaged to land or water.  An indigent person can eventually or suddenly becomes the boss with the proper combination of hard work and patience, but sometimes pure luck is sufficient.  Something which is almost impossible, as history professes, in the serfdoms of the rural haciendas, where the fathers and forefathers of forefathers give birth to more generation of more farmers.  Whereas, in the city a hardware  owner, partners with a small contractor, the small contractor gets a huge building project, both the hardware and the contractor now builds half of an emerging city—true story. 
The decision to focus on cities is obviously influenced by my other interest that is commerce, trade, the exchanges of material and soft goods.   It has been my hypothesis, since research in younger days, that spaces of mercantilism optimizes the capability of man to reassign being.  Reassigning being is not simply changing suit; it is the ability to adapt to change; it is the willingness to at least reflect (and eventually) adapt the new; and to be mindful (at most times) to what was old or what have been.  The potential of fluidity of men in cities is a condition that enables opportunities.

Condition Plant camote...can!
I have wanted to do something within the Region since after I completed my research during college days.  My research then was focused on the Philippines. The natural progression, I thought was to go to the Region.  So I have been patiently working on ways to get-in the Southeast Asia art scene for quite some time.  I did apply to do internship, fellowship or research grants from institutions in Singapore and HongKong (English speaking SEA countries) but nothing came out of it. I did get something from North America, but since they were not my real interest, the research was just completed and never pursued further. So after 2 years of trying and not getting anything from SEA, I spent the next eight years working for La Sallian Brothers, teaching arts management courses and serving as consultant for social responsibility division of corporations. In retrospect, this “waiting phase” was a blessing because it allowed me to earn courage and some money in preparation for the endeavour I am currently undertaking.  It does require so much of both.    
Until my cue to actualize my wish finally arrived 2010.  Singapore International Foundation gave me a 100-days arts associate residency at The National Art Gallery Singapore in February 2010.  Through this grant, I was able to get acquainted with so many artists, not just from Singapore but also Thailand and eventually HongKong. Art has its own timing. My past passion to hold research in SEA was instantly ignited.
This gave birth to my Project Glocal—which is a contraction of local and global. Project Glocal is a cross cultural multi locale art project.  The agenda is to get to know cities and its dwellers, to find boundaries and intersections, to converse about it not to make grand narratives but to reflect on how it affects or even define our choices, preferences, our habits and consequently our lives.  I chose to work with cities where I know people—Bangkok there is Vichaya Mukdamanee, a co-alumni of SIF grant; HongKong there is Jaffa Lam, co-grantee of Asian Cultural Council; Manila is of course my home; and Singapore, well it is my other home for so many reasons even before my stint at SIF happened.  And of course these still are active trading cities.  I chose to work with artists simply because art is my agenda. 
Project Glocal formally started in July 2011 when I shared my research to artists I hope to work with. As of date, I am already working with 29 artists; we already had two exhibits in Manila; two small talks or conversation with art public; with two more big exhibits, one at the University of the Philippines in October and another at Singapore Art Museum 8Q in November; and two symposia.  Plans for 2013 are still on-hold awaiting funding or more courage, whichever comes first.
More than these numbers, my research or more so, my involvement in SEA arts affairs through Project Glocal now breath the air of congeniality and camaraderie amongst the artist participants and our respective institutions. We, myself and my artists collaborators, recognize our adversaries of course, but at least I am proud to say that our small talks do not dwell on what this city has and what the others don’t; nor what the others can and what the others cannot; we often hear a popular Mekong expression “same same but different;” which reveals that we reflect on our crossings as much as our being multi and diverse.
What we agreed-on so far is that our city is what we experience or how we chose to experience where we are.  And that we are city-zens by virtue of how we act on what we chose to act on.  City is not a matter of physical boundary but a cerebral kinaesthesia. As we now claim that artists maybe technically subjected to zip codes and taxes, being a city-zen is not. And it is in this condition that we see further opportunities for collaboration.  Like rhizomes, we found “that city” is somewhere we can plant our camotes. 
Anti-climactic however, art remains a subject of local and global gazes.  This is a talking point of our Project Glocal that requires more conversations.  We have the other half of this year to do so.
Challenge Time to bear fruit
            Project Glocal is not your typical research; where you formulate a hypothesis, gather data and write about it.  This is not even an applied research where a product or formula is produced in the process of research. Project Glocal, by lack of proper label, is a social experiment; where the subject of study is the doer of the experiment.  Activity involves finding each other, building relationship, and bearing fruit. So, ok it is more like speed dating that requires a child at the end of the roulette.  But in keeping with my chosen metaphor for this presentation, I’d like to say that we are planting camote.  We have to make our tops grow roots, hug the earth and ultimately bear fruit.
            Finding each other. All 30 of us found each other through the various art networks.  Some attended the same residency, some were from the same university, and some did projects in the past. So our networks are school, art/culture institution and work.
            Building relationship. Internet, especially Facebook, is our biggest asset in getting to know each other. We have been exchanging emails long before we met.  But at one point we have to meet in person.  I have met them all. I went to each city as often as time and finances allow me.  Not just to talk about our collective art agenda or to look at portfolios.  A time spent with them chatting about dreams, frustrations, family, love life, even favourites and fetishes, proved to be useful in enriching our understanding of each other, which enabled a more natural relationship, if not actually friendship.
            Bearing fruit. The first satellite show (titled Conversation of Cities) is a product of my initial personal meeting with the artists. I should say that the roots have sprouted from the plant but it has yet to hug the earth.  I am not too contended with the outcome.  It looks undone; incomplete.  Good thing though, the small talk that went with the exhibit catered to opening of a gamut possible talking points for Project Glocal.  Frankly, it was when I realized that I am running a huge project fuelled by my skimpy personal funds and a good bunch of enthusiasm. The following satellite show (HabitForming) is more solid.  It was a product of another round of emails and another round of visit to the cities.  While visually the show is solid, and somewhat the collaborating artists were more involved, our art public said very little during the talk because the conversation was routed to a more academic tone. It could be accidental or intentional (definitely accidental on my part and most of my artists).  But the change of flow of talk from informal chat to a more structured or deeper analytic talk surprised a lot of us.  Again, I realized that people have a great fascination for revising order; even if the order is to not have one. The next two exhibits and conversation with art public are in large scale.  Not biennale large, but at least it is larger than the first two.  I don’t want to predict what will happen.  I am hoping however that the fruits of our labor will be enticing enough to bear new fruits.

            In summary, I would like to say that in doing curatorial project for Southeast Asia, one should consider well were she would want to set her plant.  Because in this industry it is not enough to grow roots, it is necessary that your roots will hug the earth, and to bear fruits that are birthed directly from the roots, deep with the same earth that nourishes. This is what I did and doing now, because one day I hope to harvest my camote and eat it too. -END-

[1] Referring to “A thousand plateaus”; a theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dezipcoding: Project Glocal at DiverseCity

(Part of SIF's DiverseCity)

Venue: 4.12 Gallery, Singapore Art Museum 8Q
Duration: 15Nov-2Dec 2012
14Nov (schedule and program TBA)
15Nov 9AM to 2PM SAM 8Q 4.12 Workshop/performance with Luke Ching
[for participation on the workshop please email or leave PM for Dayang Yraola on Facebook]
17Nov (schedule and program TBA)

The idea for this satellite show is to create a suitcase exhibit. A suitcase exhibit refers to a set of works that are designed to travel.  It is an exhibit that can expand or shrink its size depending on the exhibit space allocated for it. Choosing this format means that the artists and curator of Project Glocal are ready to travel, to meet more people, to expand our horizons, to involve more people in our committed conversations.  DiverseCity is an opportunity for Project Glocal to test the extent of the relationship that we forged.

The theme, coming from working title Dezipcoding, are conjoined words—decoding and zipcode.  In this show, Project Glocal is decoding zipcodes, which implies that we are not just talking about blurring boundaries; this time we are participating in the blurring.

The section devoted to Project Glocal in the SIF exhibit DiverseCity will have three types of work: new projects, on-going projects and collaborative projects.

New projects are supposedly product of the artist’s exploration of city that is part of Project Glocal other than his own. As of date the following expressed their interest to produce new works: Urich Lau, Black Baroque Committee, Mark Salvatus, Jason Wee, Song Ming Ang and Riel Hilario.

Luke Ching will bring his on-going project "Folk Art Series", a performance/workshop.

Collaborative works are also new works envisioned during conversations of Project Glocal artists in the past. Those who are currently working are:
  1. Vichaya Mukdamanee, Wantanee Siripattanuntakul, Warawut Tourawong, Rutheirat Kumsrichan and Esther Yip Lai Man
  2. Tang Kwok Hin and Mimi Tecson
  3. Tang Ling Nah, Irma Lacorte and Mark Salvatus
  4. Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy, Thosapol Boribon, Preeyachanok, Mideo Cruz and Wesley Valenzuela 
  5. Anton del Castillo and Jaffa Lam

In partnership with:

Supported by:

Cityzening: We talk, we walk, we are cityzens!

Welcome message from Dayang

We talk, we walk, we are cityzens!

To the representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in the Philippines,  colleagues, family and friends.  Thank you all for coming over this afternoon.

Before I begin, I would like to thank the Vargas Museum of the College of Arts and Letters for hosting Cityzening, the Singapore International Foundation-Project Glocal partner, the Asian Cultural Council for supporting the final leg of my research for this project, Tin-Aw Gallery and Artinformal for hosting our first two satellite shows, the UP Artists Circle for logistic support and my home unit, the U.P. Center for Ethnomusicology for so many things.

This afternoon, we are fortunate to be joined by at least 80% of the Project Glocal artists.  I would like to introduce Tang Kwok Hin, Urich Lau, Tang Ling Nah, The Black Baroque Committee, Vichaya Mukdamanee, Thosapol Boribon, Jittagarn Kaewtingkoy, Rutheirat Kumsrichan, Jaffa Lam, Tam Wai Ping, Francis Yu, Esther Yip Lai Man, Preeyachanok Ketsuwan, Irma Lacorte, Mark Salvatus, Mideo Cruz, Wesley Valenzuela and Anton del Castillo. Our artist assistants RG Salazar, Roan Opiso, Anjo Bolarda, Marcel Gaspar and JM Cabling. And our project assistant Philip Noveras and Mang Ed Carlos.

This exhibit that you are about to view is a product of an 18 month labor: tears, blood, sweat, bargaining, borrowing and begging.  I started this project with a deranged ego, that since I have multiple personalities, I would be able to multi-task mentally and physically.  And today, I close a chapter of this Project, with a depleted ego and an even more depleted bank account. I am an exhausted mortal. But an exhausted mortal with so much joy in her heart.

I am a permanent resident of the cultural world, by choice and default, and there is nothing more important for me than to learn and experience culture—my own and that of my neighbours—and I was able to achieve that by dragging along 28 other souls (at the very least), in this search of “knowing”.

Reflecting on how this project transpired is a difficult task.  It is almost impossible to give you an account or some sort of travelogue, in few minutes, that would actually make sense, because Project Glocal is not just this exhibit.  What I could share with you now are keywords that could very well represent the process that we have all engaged in.

  1. Circumstances engineering: Project Glocal, the mothership of Cityzening is a scheme to engineer circumstances for artists to engage, not necessarily for an exhibit, but to engage with each other as colleagues, or even better, as friends;
  2. Committed conversation: This is the pretense of this project. Committed conversation is talking to another person with the full intention of understanding them and allowing them to enter you comfort zone, to the point of agreeing to subject your agenda (in our case, art) with his. Conversation is easy. The commitment is a whole different story, because it requires us to invest, which brings me to the final point. 
  3. Investment: The artists, who are involved in this project, have invested their time, effort, money, patience, ears, kidney, lungs, and whatever else was required from them to enable us to make Project Glocal happen. At the same time, Project Glocal is an investment for us. Our bank book of relationships and experiences beefed up a plenty over the past months.
I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Project Glocal proved to be a real demanding work for all of us. However, as cityzens, we are filthy rich people. We are filthy from the toils of our labor; but richer than the Sultan of Brunei for the same reason that we are filthy.

On this note, I invite you all to Cityzening.
Again thank you for coming.

Cityzening: On exhibit


In this exhibit, Cityzening, the artists shares their views, their own definition, and their own questions of their cityzenship.

The works are grouped in three main themes to represent three actors or factors in cityzening—In this site focuses on space; Crowding source on people; and Source crowding on ownable things.

In this site…
“The street offers casual encounters, the possibilities of engagement, the adoption or relinquishing of a personality (…)” —Malcolm Miles, 1997

MICHAEL LEE, After human, 2011. These photographs speculates on the fiction of post-human world. The images of collapsed buildings made of 3D models, sometimes with the hand of the artist alluding a pseudo divine intervention of a carer or a destroyer, explores the issues of what will happen to the world without human as well as the continuation of human spirit. The artist notes that: “The word ‘After’ in this series title refers as much to the time beyond the present as the payment of homage and the relentless pursuit of a better world.” [with reference to show in 2011 with the same title at Give Art Space, curated by Tolla Sloane].

MIDEO CRUZ, Terra incognita, 2009-ongoing. This work is comprised of three world maps. One map is a blueprint of the world map accompanied by a bag of price tag stickers, spray paint and a stencil screen with the words “terra incognita” (translated in Filipino). Audience are encouraged to fill the map with price tag stickers until the whole blueprint has been covered. Two other maps are fully covered with stickers, which suggest how the boundaries are blurred if not actually merged. This work demonstrates how man contribute in knowing the unknown territories and revising it to its own likeness

MARK SALVATUS, Model City (Phase III), 2012. The project is a series of construction / reconstruction. Manila is under a very massive development – especially in the realty sector and this is the jump-off point for the project. While walking in different malls and establishments the artist collected brochures of site constructions that were given to prospect buyers- people usually throw this away. Mark used these brochures; cut them out and made into a construction site. These condominiums also reflects the people’s desires and aspirations to live in a comfortable place amidst the chaos of the city – you can see them in the copy ad of the brochures- like “Live the life you Love” or “Elegant living in the city” – this copy is then recorded as a voice over that is part of the installation.[First seen in Ateneo de Manila University for the show Territories (2012) and Short Memory in Drawing Room Singapore (2012)].

JASON WEE, A Plan for 38 Pyramids, 2012. The drawing brings the viewer to peep in a hole to screen what appears to be a plan to erect a new fictitious cityscape; a vertical horizon that borrows temperament from ageless fascination over Mayan prophecies and alienology. This work brings us further to reflect on the unrivalled sophistication of ancient building technology and compared it to our almost faux permanent, if not actually ephemeral vertical cities.

SONG MING ANG, ACDC Lane Melbourne, 2010. This work is a photographic record of music posters found in an alley of the same name in Australia. AC/DC Lane was named in honor of Australian rock band AC/DC in October 2004. How AC/DC Lane in Australia got its name is a manifestation of people's affection to music/musicians that it materializes or translated into a physical city space. Much like how most streets are named after heroes.

The artist recalls how he came to create this project in this short note: “I went to ACDC Lane in Melbourne, like how a tourist in Japan would try to take a photo of Mount Fuji – it's a sort of simple, almost naïve pilgrimage. I didn't know what I would find, but one of the things I found was that there wasn't only graffiti of ACDC, but also music billboards of other bands. It was like a polytheistic holy ground set in a small, rough-looking lane. The music billboards interested me because they weren't really supposed to be there...”

FRANCIS YU, Iron Road Barrier Made of Plastic, 2012. The road barrier is now made of colourful plastic. It is no longer metallic although Hong Kong people still call it “Iron horse”. The iron horse is an icon of the streets as its image and name is synonymous to infrastructure maintenance and development. As an inspiration to art making, Yu recognized that he has a mundane fascination to the iron horse because of its form and color that is attractive as much as it is utilitarian.

In the context of cities, iron horses or however the road barrier is called locally are “progress indicators”, its quality, condition, design, uniformity somehow tells us whether a city is moving up or forward, going backward, or in a state of total neglect or abuse.

TANG LING NAH, Finding a home, building one and tearing one, 2012. Places where we stay, what we call homes have now turned into commodities and subject of investment and monetary transactions. Buying property now becomes an indication of wealth, a status symbol of city-dwellers. A house in no longer just a roof to protect us from the exterior environment. This work confront the viewers with the prevalence of such ‘housing transactions’. The newspapers used on this installation are housing advertisement collected by the artist from Manila and Singapore. The fragility of paper and the impermanence of charcoal symbolize the ephemeral state of our homes and buildings in the city (an inevitable situation of urbanity). Today it is here, but on the next day, it may be gone!

URICH LAU, Video Car: Vision Collision, 2012. The city is a stagnant pool if without a system of mobility. Mobility begets communication and interactivity of ideas and thoughts. Without communication and interactivity, contemporary art would fail to grow and stays in stagnancy. The work is from a series of interactive video installations that utilizes cars and transform them into “video boxes” with the windscreens used as video displays. Cars and automobiles are an essential element in the modernization of the city, as much as a bane to the environment. It could be one of the greatest man-made dilemmas. Video Car: Vision Collision is a work that looks into the dilemma between the proverbial beauty and chaos.

TANG KWOK HIN, Reminiscences of the Eastern Capital, 2012. This project is inspired by a record for a period of history about Kaifang in Northern Song Dynasty under Emperor of Hui-tsung. The Book mentions that there are more than 100 different stores situated in the center of the city. This is the time truly contending and prosperous.

This 3-channel video shows scenes from downtown Hong Kong where chain-stores are opening and small boutique stores are closing, the former overlaps the image of the latter. It is a the artist lament on the changing of guard of the consumeristic universe. The artist asks: “Does trading behaviour in stores form a major part of human living culture, as well as values of the public? It means that personality (like commodity) can gradually be worn down.”

Crowding source…
“The city is not a map, but a three-dimensional lived space.” -Madalina Diaconu, 2011

RUTHAIRAT KUMSRICHAN, Family Trapunto: Blanket of Love, 2009; Mountain of Love, 2008; Yai Om, 2009. Kumsrichan’s works are labor intensive as it involves arranging, stitching, and embroidering patterns, drawings and other textile materials together to form a formative abstract portrait of her chosen subject—family. The artist has been reflecting on love and warmth of family relationship that is usually associated with the countryside. Her choice of more a painstaking and time consuming technique, embroidery and trapunto, is an irony against the fast track pacie of city life.

TAM WAI PING, Dream, 2012. This is an installation of photograph of a soldier and a policeman sleeping, mounted on a aluminium sheet and shot by 9mm gun. The artist reflects: “Dream is something that not quite understandable but everyone want to find out what it is, whereas the reality is something too palpable that you don’t want to deal with it daily...... then what is the truth?” Does a solider is a patriot? Is it a lifetime career? Is a tool for the national machine? Has become a privilege class? Is a father of his children? Is a husband of a wife? Wake him up from his dream by using violence, he shall think about before to use the power of force.”

HO SIU KEE, Aureola Series – Mongkok, 2012. This work is comprised of digital prints where the artist is featured on top of a platform apparatus/sculpture, a photo of him was taken on one of the most famous shopping landmark in Hong Kong. The artist reflects that: “Our bodies have been experiencing extension in the functional sense…the wheel as extension of foot, book as extension of eye, clothing as extension of skin, electric circuit as extension of central nervous system (McLuhan, 1967). As a living being capable of activity and possesses gesture, the body is also the object of perception. This manifests the communicative function of the body. Putting the body in a specific setting, using the senses as the contact point and taking the perceptual world as the field of imagination is often the basic requirement for creation and interpretation of works of art.”

THOSAPOL BORIBOON, Wrinkled head, Hole and Swallow, 2012. Constant and consistent use of internet confuses the artist which coordinate he actually belongs. It can be said that this is an evolution of the social being becoming a netizen, a subculture of cityzen. They live in a world without physical boundaries and identity. It is highly influential to the existence of life in the present. In this series, painted are structures representing the image of the invisible highway where the netizen traverses. The “concrete”, “physical” or “multidimensional human” showed entering a fragile, complex but familiar space; men hanging on at the same time living within data, either processing or stored in memory, waiting to be accessed.

WANTANEE SIRIPATTANANUNTAKU, International curator, 2012. This piece is a variation of earlier interactive video work that elaborates on the artist’s fascination or curiosity over people’s obsession with “bagging” international recognition. Wantanee’s recent projects contribute the more robust aesthetic experiences questioning the myths and metaphors in contemporary culture. She conceptualizes her works from the inclination among Asian contemporary art in which many artists seem to overwhelm with the idea of national identity and shared discourse on the role of western culture in the formation of Asian societal structures. In this way the audience have to find answers to questions about the meaning and purpose of the art works.

PREEYACHANOK KETSUWAN, Dream Girl, 2012. The artist demystifies the illusion that modern society enables women to enjoy equal opportunities with men. She brought the unease a little further by confessing that other women can be a source of oppression as much as men. Being a Buddhist, the artist takes relief that she can choose what or who she will be in the next life. Surprising enough, she will still choose to become a woman. For next life time, the artist dreams that she would not need to cry and mumble; that she her struggles as a poor girl in a society will be alleviated. She dreams that next time, she will be heard. She is hopeful that one day a female will speak, do and protect ourselves.

JITTAGARN KAEWTINKOY, Conversation of Terrorist Leader, 2012. Societies evolve. Capitalism has its chance for power in specific social structures. It could be a source, a base or a major player; it could be coming from the West; but could also be coming from the East now. In this work, the terrorist leaders are masked in what appears like a ninja suit to make them anonymous—they could be anybody or nobody. All type of powers is in pursuit of resources and benefits; but sometimes they are simply in “pursuit of integration in the global settlement." In various guises the capitalist interference causes wars, depletes natural resources, and complicates human relations for the sole purpose of profit. This was represented in this work by depicting the terrorist leaders on the act of drinking from straw, sucking the very air that surrounds them.

WARAWUT TOURAWONG, Man Under the Chair, 2012. In his painting, the man or the chair could be upside down. Living in a city is like playing musical chair, except that you are only playing with yourself and going around a single chair. This is how the artist illustrates that truth is not only relative; it is by far one of the most abstract thought a man could think of. It is teasing between original understandings, the position of man, his mannerisms, and how meanings are conveyed. According to the artist, “there is no one set of truth, because after all the set or the truth might be both abstract.”

LUKE CHING, Cockroach (from the Folk Art Series), 2011. Every society with a long history has its own folk art. It is the result of wisdom of people living there. Hong Kong lacks of original folk art due to its relatively short history. Folk art series aims to develop a form of folk art that is originated from the modern Hong Kong experience by developing a unique skill of making cockroach and spreading the skill to as many people as possible.

WESLEY VALENZUELA Untitled work, 2012. This work revolves around the idea of assimilation, specifically on how people tend to lose their inner identity by way of adapting to the dictates of the environment (social, political, spiritual, material, etc etc). In relation to this concept, the artist will work on found objects in creating hybrid forms (human/mechanical, animal/human, etc) in depicting the various state and outcome of human transformation.

Source crowding... 
“The spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made in production and its corollary consumption.” -Guy-Ernest Debord, 1967, 1971

ANTON DEL CASTILLO, Bargain, 2012. In this project the artist attempts to simulate through installation a bazaar booth, Bugis (Singapore), Chatuchak (Bangkok), Tsim Shat Sui (HongKOng) and Greenhills (Manila). On the booth are bags made of metal plate and video projection of vendors. For the artist experiencing this type of setting enables him to reflect on choices associated with desires and necessities. Proliferation of fake or imitation of luxury merchandise professes that branding as an effective tool for social positioning.

BLACK BAROQUE COMMITTEE, Do Not Send These Dangerous Goods, 2012. Black Baroque Committee through their imaginary Red Herring Postal Service critiques the First World’s attempt to save the world by sending relief goods, as much as they send arms to the Third World. They claim that it is a condescending gesture instead of alleviating the misery or resolving the problem.

IRMA LACORTE Compressed Can, 2012. Canned goods are staple of kitchen cupboard in cities. In this work, the artist drew compressed cans, photocopied on two reams of paper and stacked on a pedestal that has been wrapped with cans. Typically people do not problematize this problem because we focus on how to prosper. Viewers are encouraged to take a copy of the drawing, not as a memento but an advertisement for audience to ponder how much rubbish we produce everyday that we tend to ignore, despite reminders of proper waste disposal.

JOO CHOON LIN Resolution of Reality, 2012 and Travelling Matte, 2012. These videos are artist’s reflection on how nature correlates with nature, like how water fall is similar to a printer spewing out printed paper. According to Choon Lin much of her work draws upon ideas and imagery relating to natural and man-made environments. She is inclined to bringing the narrative potential of landscape and its relationship to technology and environment.

VICHAYA MUKDAMANEE, Re-Assembling of Three Closets, 2012. This is a documented performance of how the artist. He literally re-assembled the furniture to create different sculpture pieces. For the artist furniture such as lightweight closet is an object or an icon of the portability of city living. He chose pieces that were made of cheap material, its low quality production disguised by using colors as an additional statement or critique of the portable type of living that is prevalent in the city.

ESTHER YIP LAI MAN Taste of the City, 2012. Toys with the idea of pop-up food to relate to the city. Our memories of habitation and travel are commonly populated by what we ate, how it tasted like, how different was it from what we are used to, how similar it is from what we have. Next to sight, taste maybe the most loaded sense in a city. This work attempts to represent gastronomic exploration of cities.

MIMI TECSON At Home, 2012. This assemblage is a suitcase filled with small objects in small compartments. It is composed like a doll house. The objects are those usually associated with house or home. This work reflects on how we are all citizens of the world, and wherever we are regardless of race or country, we meet kind people who nurture us and treat us as family or who’ll make us feel at home. It is as if all that we need to survive really can fit into a suitcase.

JAFFA LAM Micro Economy, 2008-ongoing. This work is a product of a continuous collaboration of the artist with Hong Kong Women Workers’ Society since 2008. This group of women were former seamstress that who were part of the Hong Kong’s work force during manufacturing boom in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They were displaced when the city-state started to restructure. Most of them now work as part-time cleaning ladies. The project is for them to assist the artist in constructing a “meditation tent”. The tent is an “asylum” made of recycled umbrella fabric. Much as the materials were recycled, enabling seamstress to once again sew is another form of recycling. The tent therefore serves as a shelter, a space of refuge, a temporary destination that can stop all kinds of time. The tent therefore is a project of redefining collaboration, from 'producing' to 'serving and providing'.

In the end the artist asks: Does transforming these discarded objects – broken umbrellas – into functional forms and usable things serve to reorient perspectives for an audience considering what do we need? And what do we not? Is it the issue only for us, citizen in metropolitan?

The city that we walked on might not be the same city that is will be tomorrow or next year or later. Our walk, our talk, our train rides and hawkers center feasts might mean something else. Nothing wasted. Friends gain. Life lived. And like a well-worn cloth, the city has constantly to be re-made (McEwan, 1993 in Miles 1997).


Erik Swyngedouw (1997) ‘The Specter of the Phoenix—Reflections on the contemporary urban condition’ in Bosma K., Helliga H. (eds.) Mastering the City I, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam/EFL Publications, The Hague/Distributed Art Publishers, New York.

Erik Swyngedouw and Maria Kaika (2003) The Making of ‘Glocal’ Urban Modernities: Exploring the Cracks in the Mirror’, City: Analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action 7(1): 5-21.

Malcolm Miles (1997), “The City”, Art, Space and the City: Public Art & Urban Futures. London, US, Canada: Routledge

Gerardo Mosquera and Jean Fisher, eds., Over Here: International Perspectives on Art and Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004

Madalina Diaconu (2011) “City Walks and Tactile Experience”, Contemporary Aesthetics, Vol.9.

Guy-Ernest Debord (1967, 1971) The Society of the Spectacle. Paris: Champ Libre.

Erik Swyngedouw (2004) “Globalisation or ‘Glocalisation’? Networks, Terretories and Rescaling,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 17(1) April, pp25-48.

Jan Suchacek (2008) “On the Emergence of Glocalisation” Munch Personal RepEc Archive Paper, 

Cityzening: Curatorial Note

Curatorial notes

We have called Project Glocal by many names: art project, multi-locale, cross-cultural, social experiment, cultural experiment, collaborative project, etc. After more than a year of brewing the idea, and some more months of producing public activities to provide the project a tangible entity, we came to believe that Project Glocal is an act of CIRCUMSTANCES ENGINEERING. As characters of city, we tried to engineer circumstances to enable us to get-in-touch, relate and engage; to plot our destinations or to trace our paths; to evaluate our pacing or simply to allow us to pace in whatever route we chose to be in and whatever mode we favour.


The Project started with an impression that we are doing a cartographer’s project, one of those projects that culminate with an exhibit of cityscapes as in skyscrapers, streets, traffic and more skyscrapers—thus, city as a physical entity.

Eventually, we came to realize that we operate in what Erik Swyngedouw calls a new urban multiplex which is “a fragmented kaleidoscope of apparently disjointed spaces and places, a collage and patchwork of images, signs, functions and activities that are nevertheless globally connected in myriad ways” (Swyngedouw, 1997).

We came to ponder that the city is a conglomerate of sort, which is not purely glass and concrete infrastructure. It is as much human, it is as much nostalgic, it is much melancholic, or absurd as any other platform. It is by far one of the most abstract inventions of modern history. And it is a fluid blueprint that could accommodate our ridiculous and/or brilliant ideas.


Gabriel Peluffo Linari, says that “artists in occasions form ephemeral groups that is dynamic, transformational (…), revealing evidence of society remnants, and where cultural complicities are shared” (in Mosquera, 2004). True enough our coming together for the purpose of this project was designed to be ephemeral; where the relationship terminates (or take on a new form) after the work has been done. However, our encounters online and as multidimensional humans weaved a relationship that enabled us to reveal our person, to recognize similarities and to ignore, justify or challenge differences and to some extent, to like each other. We have created a network or a congregation that is all fuelled up and gearing to churn and spew our hearts’ desires.


In view of the quilt-type characteristic of City and capitalizing on the ephemeral transformational characteristic of artists as a group, we decided to focus our gaze to city-dwellers/dwelling.

So in Project Glocal, the collaborating artists and myself, went ahead to engineer circumstances where we talk, walk, plan, argue, agree, relate, commit and act, together, with each other and other people we met while in, on the way in, or, on the way out of a city.

The What of the CITY?

In our collective sojourn, the city was defined as something more than a place or location. It is where the local and the global do exist, but do not matter. It is a dimension, an idea, an instance, an occasion and/or an event that exists in the everyday and the other days. It is not a boundary but the extent which cover preferences, choices, habits, actions and reactions. It is a system where hard and soft goods are traded with or against necessities or luxuries.

And it is through this system where the ability of man to reassign being is optimized. Reassigning being is not simply changing suit; it is the ability to adapt to change; it is the willingness to at least reflect and (eventually) adapt the new; by referencing or being mindful (at most times) to what was old, what was usual or what have been. In this spirit, the citizen or people who live in the city are reassigned as the cityzen or people who are cities. Cityzenship is what we experience or how we chose to experience what we are. And that we are cityzens by virtue of how we act on what we chose to act on.

Simply, Jan Suchacek (2008) defined the glocal to mean the human capability to overarch (at least mentally) the various territorial scales (local and global). CITYZEN is therefore a person of CEREBRAL KINAESTHESIA. Artists as citizens maybe technically subjected to zip codes and taxes; being a cityzen is not. The potential fluidity of cityzen is a condition that enables further opportunities for collaboration, inclusion, among others.

CITYZENING is the act of being a cityzen; and cityzenship is the inclusion in the process or series of cityzening. These are thoughts and actions of exercising the cerebral aerobics (to some extent acrobatics) that is vested on those who recognize it.

Cityzening: New Words for New Worlds

New Words for New Worlds

There are two curious words in this project: glocal and cityzening. Both are awkwardly crafted, perhaps meant to stage the difficulty of describing a condition in the also always-already fraught site of contemporary language, or in theory as in fact a literary articulation of the present.

The word glocal seems to be a hybrid of the global and the local, which tends to overcome the conjunction between local and global. The term foregoes the slash or even the hyphen as in local/global or local-global. Instead, it mints a portmanteau that fuses common and overlapping syllables of the two modes of nominating a geography or modifying some stuff of history that happens. One may fault the admixture for eliding the tensions between the words, putting in place a seamless, coherent, self-contained term. But one may also appreciate it for being productive, for surmounting a dialectic and an antinomy, and creating a new semantic universe to intuit a new notion of the universal.

The rubric of cityzening is more idiosyncratic. It alludes to two utterances: the city and the citizen. But it might be a gerund, too, so it should be able to refer to the process of becoming a citizen, or the relationship between the city and the citizen, caught up in the volatile weather of generating a situation or an ecology.

This exhibition, therefore, ought to internalize the implications of this play and this vexation. The relay from local to global to city to citizen is a livewire of so many currents and valences. It is the challenge of this undertaking to track the wavelength of this energy field, the full ethical responsibility of cohabiting space in dense vicinities and the lightness of generosity in the intervals of relations.

Patrick D. Flores
Curator, UP Vargas Museum

Cityzening: Communities through the arts

Communities through the arts

Intercultural communication occurs when two artists from different cultures come together to exchange verbal and non-verbal symbols. Out of that exchange can come an entirely new world of values, beliefs and experiences that enrich one’s artistic perspective and practices, producing fresh and stronger works. Such arts exchanges also connect with international publics who might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with gl obal artists and their ideas. By sharing collaborations among the arts community with the rest of the world, we promote deeper discourse on and foster cross-cultural understanding.

The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) is proud to be the main partner of Project Glocal (Manila). At the heart of the project is the cross cultural conversations, cross pollination of ideas, and the collaborative works that connect communities and deepen understanding to enrich lives.

Project Glocal was initiated by SIF programme alumna, Dayang Yraola. After the debut exhibition in Manila, Dayang will present the Singapore leg of Project Glocal at SIF’s annual showcase of the arts on 15 November 2012 at Singapore Art Museum’s 8Q. Called DiverseCity, the exhibition is a celebration of the diversity and richness of Singapore art, and the collaborative efforts between Singapore and international artists.

The SIF is proud to support its alumni in their role as ambassadors in connecting world communities through the arts. Project Glocal demonstrates the growing tapestry of relations forged among and within different communities through the arts. We hope you will enjoy the exhibition and be inspired to share your ideas for bridging world communities with us.

Jean Tan
Executive Director
Singapore International Foundation