BUFFER-KIT: What does the name mean?
The word ‘buffer’ refers to a person or thing that reduces a shock, or forms a barrier between adversaries. In Chemistry, it is a substance which resists changes in pH when an acid or alkali is added to it. Like a buffer, BUFFER-KIT hopes to be able to cushion any adversaries that it faces along its artistic path, and to take on any challenges that come its way—be it a collaborative project or a solo exhibition of its own.
Jun 2002-2004 - Artist/Key
Tang Ling Nah has been responsible for coordinating & administrating the various art projects of the group.
BUFFER-KIT: Biographies of
BUFFER-KIT is an informal and non-profit collective of artists who have been assembled for a specific art project—the artist exchange programme with Australian artists in 2002.
Currently, BUFFER-KIT consists of ten artists from diverse backgrounds. They work with a wide range of mediums, and explore different concerns in their artworks. All have notable achievements in various arenas. BUFFER-KIT will keep the group flexible and dynamic, recruiting young artists for specific projects it undertakes. The following are the biographies of all present members (note that nine of the members are involved in this exhibition and their full curricula vitae are available upon request):
Baidah Ahmad has a Bachelor of Biological Sciences from the National University of Singapore. Despite not having a formal art education, she has been very active in the arts. She works with various mediums. Being a cancer researcher, her latest art work attempts to marry both her art and research. Currently, she designs and sews for her own D.I.Y online fashion label, Nux Bloom. She has also designed posters, pamphlets, and other collaterals for the Biotechnology and Chemical Process Club. Being a theatre enthusiast, Baidah had acted in various school and inter-school plays. She was the art and props director of Kismet, a play staged at Victoria Theatre, Singapore. She has also been a participant of various national and international volunteer projects under Raleigh International.
Chia Chu Yia has been active in the Singapore art scene since obtaining her Bachelor of Arts from the School of Art at Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. Travelling widely, she has also participated in numerous exhibitions overseas. These include Bakat Muda Sezaman 2002, the Young Contemporary Artist Competition exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and The Need and Self, a two-man show at Red Mill Gallery in Vermont, USA. She had also exhibited in Peru and China. In 2002, she received a Certificate of Distinction Award at the 21st UOB Painting of the Year. She was also a recipient of the Asian Artist Fellowship Merit Awards 2001 at the 6th Annual Freeman Foundation Awards in Vermont. Her installations also grace many public places in Singapore.
Matt Chia Meow Siang is a founder of a multimedia company, Ninetrogen. He has been a multimedia designer since studying his Diploma in Visual Arts (Multimedia Art) in LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore. His excellent work earned him an Outstanding Student Award (Top Graduating Student from the School of Multimedia Art) of the College in 1999. In 2002, he received his Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Multimedia Art from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (University of Central England). He has also participated in many visual arts exhibitions, and was a guest dancer of The Somatic Object, a performance at the School of Dance Graduation Show (LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts) in 1998.
Han Kiang Siew is trained in architecture but holds a diverse portfolio of work that spans various mediums and scales—from architecture to product and furniture design to art. He believes in investigating his lived environment through such multifarious modes. Most often his works investigate the relationship between the body and its urban context. In art making, he often seeks to narrate the situations that constitute our modern urban condition. He has a Master of Architecture degree from the National University of Singapore. Beyond his academic work, he has participated actively in numerous art exhibitions since 1999. He has also won several awards for his work in design and art. His collaborative architectural design entry for the Pentagon Memorial Competition in 2002 was selected for exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. He clinched second prize and an honourable mention at the Haworth Asia Pacific Design Awards in 1999 and 2000 respectively. In 2003, he won first prize in the student category of the Furniture Design Competition 2003 organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and also received a highly commended award for the abstract category of the 22nd UOB Painting of the Year Competition. Most recently, he was awarded the Young Furniture Designer Award for year 2003 in the inaugural Singapore Furniture Industry Awards. Han’s past working experience include an internship with Nikken Sekkei International Ltd where he worked on several building projects in Singapore, India and China, ranging from office buildings to high-rise residential to retail projects.
Neng Mohd. Sa’at graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Fine Arts (Painting and Drawing) from the University of Huddersfield, England in 2003. Since then, she has been involved in a number of exhibitions. These include Incommunicado, a four-artists show at the Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore. Besides drawing, painting and printmaking, Neng is also a music maker. She was a co-producer of Force, Vomit and Bruce Lee, and produced music demos and full-length CD albums for local bands in Singapore. In 2001, she was a designer for the cover page of Big O, a local music magazine. She also wrote a chapter on the Singapore English music industry in a book called No Finer Time to be Alive published by Simpleman Books, Singapore. Neng has also worked as a Drawbase and Autocad Operator, and a draftsperson in architectural firms. One of her responsibilities include drawing architectural plans and sketches for conservation of shop houses. She was a recipient of NAC Arts Bursary in 2001.
Shiah Chyi Yun is a winner of Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) Visual Arts Bursary (Overseas) Award, and is currently pursuing her degree education at the Glasgow School of Arts. Since her earlier art education at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, she has won various awards and scholarships. These include a Special Mention Prize at the Art Against AIDS 2002 art competition, Georgette Chen Scholarship by NAC, and first prize at the Vanda Miss Joaquim Sculpture Competition in Singapore. She has also been active in many art projects, notably the International Snow Sculpture Event at the Quebec Carnival in Canada.
Nathanael Tan possesses a Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Visual Arts) with Diploma in Education from Nanyang Technological University/National Institute of Education, Singapore. He is currently an art teacher in Bedok North Secondary School. He has participated in many art exhibitions including ARTSingapore 2002, The Contemporary Asian Art Fair, and Media Series, a four-artists multimedia exhibition. His monoprints titled Tree and Landscape were selected for public display for six months at People’s Association Headquarters, Singapore.
Tang Ling Nah has a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) with Distinction from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University. In 2002, she held her first solo exhibition, activated C, showcasing her charcoal drawings of urban spaces in Singapore. Through her works, Tang seeks to reflect and address the conditions of the modern city, particularly the lack of interpersonal intimacy in urban life. She has participated in several group exhibitions, including X-Ray: Spatial Approaches and at Earl Lu Gallery I, Singapore. She was also involved in an Artist-in-Residency Programme managed by LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, at Studio 106—the former residential art studio of the late sculptor and Cultural Medallion recipient, Dr Ng Eng Teng at 106 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore. Besides her own art practice, she has also coordinated several exhibitions, including 10:10, and Deriving Spaces, an affiliate project of Nokia Singapore Art 2001–2. In April–May 2003, she co-curated Cinepolitans: Inhabitants of a Filmic City, a visual arts exhibition at Jendela, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay. She is a part-time lecturer at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore, where she conducts the Foundation Critical Studies and Drawing Workshop. She is one of the five Juror’s Choice for the Philip Morris Singapore-ASEAN Art Awards 2003, and represented Singapore for the ASEAN Art Awards in Bangkok in August 2004. She is also a winner of the Della Butcher Award 2000, and received an Honourable Mention at the Philip Morris Singapore Art Awards 2001/2. Two of her works were also highly commended at the 20th UOB Painting of the Year 2001.
Betsy Toh was a recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal Award for 2001–2. She is currently an art teacher at Peirce Secondary School, Singapore. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Visual Arts) with Diploma in Education from Nanyang Technological University/National Institute of Education. Though devoted in her teaching assignments, Toh continues to be active in her own art practice. She was one of the four artists who participated in a time- and community-based collaborative art project titled Blk 124 Kim Tian Place in Nokia Singapore Art 2001. The project involved interaction with the public, and had received overwhelming response. A versatile artist, Toh has explored various issues in her work, and has exhibited her installations and photographic works in Singapore.
Celine Yeo obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies and Sociology) from Murdoch University, Western Australia. She was the gallery manager at The Substation Ltd, Singapore, for more than two years. Having helped many artists put together their exhibitions, she has acquired extensive knowledge in curating exhibitions and gallery management. Her areas of interests are street photography, lomography and using acrylic as a sculptural form.
BUFFER-KIT’s First Solo
"Through the Looking Glass"
Baidah Ahmad, Betsy Toh, Chia Chu Yia, Matt Chia, Han Kiang Siew, Neng Mohd. Sa’at, Shiah Chyi Yun, Tang Ling Nah and Celine Yeo
The exhibition opens Fri, 19 Nov 2004, 7pm, and continues till Tue, 2 Dec 2004
un-titledGallery, China Square Central, Marsh & McLennan Centre, 18 Cross Street #B1-21, Singapore 048423
Tel: 6538 7050
Mon–Sat: 11am–8pm; Sun & Public Holidays: By appointment only
For more information, please contact:
Ms Tang Ling Nah
Artist & Curator
Email: type tlnartistsx and followed by @yahoo.com.sg
Ms Evelyn Ong
Tel: (65) 6538 7050
Email: type mail and followed by @un-titledgallery.com
In the work of art, it is with the return gaze that we begin.
It is an exhibition about the ‘self’—looking at the self from an artist’s point of view. It is about the portrait of an artist—a theme in art that no artist can escape but for various reasons, would avoid. Many artists would remember doing their first self-portraits in art school, but few actually deal with it as their main issue in their artistic pursuits. Some may argue that their works already show some of their traits, and there is no reason to deal with self-portraiture anymore. In addition, talking about the ‘self’ in an artwork appears too ‘egoistic’ and ‘narrow-minded’.
However, with the resurgence of figurative paintings in the last few years, portraiture appears to be returning to the limelight, assuming new roles, and emerging in different expressive forms . For instance, artists such as Cindy Sherman uses it to ‘challenge basic assumptions of authenticity, truth, and authorship’. There are also artists who employed it to deal with issues of identity like Rineke Dijkstra in her photographic portraits of teenagers and young adults, and to explore the boundaries between private self and public life as in the works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The forms of expression are also not restricted to just painting and drawing. They have now come to include a variety of ‘visual activity, from commissioned portraits, to family photographs and advertising images, to the work of artists who see portraiture as a revealer of “essence and truth”—and to those who challenge this assumption’. Hannah Wilke, for instance, used performance to explore the relationship between self and audience. With such increased interests, it is without doubt that self-portraiture will begin, or has begun to play a significant role in art today.
Besides being a ‘signifier of status, wealth, social class, a way to capture likeness, a way to catalogue people’ , the portrait of an artist takes on additional meanings and significance. How artists express or interpret their identities in their self-portraits would depend on the kind of societies and cultural backgrounds they are situated in. The resulting representation of an artist’s self could be affirmative of the society’s views and expectations of him/her, or a critique of social conventions and artistic traditions.
With the above in mind, and also essentially inspired by a project set out by Vogue magazine to eleven leading female artists, and a resulting article published in the December 2003 issue , BUFFER-KIT artists decide to challenge themselves to creating their own self-portraits by drawing upon their respective practices. It is noted that portraiture today is not just about the face, and artists like Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Francis Bacon, Jeff Wall, have presented us with self-portraits that are very much different from traditional portraiture. As Susan Rothenberg puts it in Vogue , there are three kinds of self-portraits: “One is analytical, based on observation…. The second is eidetic, done from memory…. And then there’s the psychological, trying to get the essence of oneself….” BUFFER-KIT will thus respond to the theme in different forms of self-expression, mediums, and approaches. However, it must be stressed that this exhibition is not an attempt by the group to re-define or re-assess the position of self-portraiture in contemporary art. It is too humongous a task!
The primary aim of the exhibition is to bring awareness to BUFFER-KIT. What better ways than to introduce its artist members through their self-portraits. As its first solo exhibition as a group, it is most apt to present artworks by, and about the individual artist member. In addition, working with a common theme would help in this first solo exhibition as BUFFER-KIT artists come from diverse backgrounds, and deal with various issues, and mediums in their individual art practices. Nine of the members will participtate in this exhibition. They are Baidah Ahmad, Betsy Toh, Chia Chu Yia, Matt Chia Meow Siang, Han Kiang Siew, Neng Mohd. Sa’at, Shiah Chyi Yun, Tang Ling Nah and Celine Yeo.
Visitors to the exhibition will not only learn about BUFFER-KIT, but also self-portraiture and the theme of identity in art. An exhibition brochure will be produced, and will be presented to visitors free of charge during the exhibition.
BUFFER-KIT: A Background
The Singapore artist group, BUFFER-KIT was formed in June 2002 in conjunction with an artist exchange project organised by Plastique Kinetic Worms, and The Substation Ltd (both are notable art spaces in Singapore). Initiated by Mr Cheo Chai-Hiang, artist, curator and former lecturer at the University of Western Australia, the artist exchange aims to bring together artists from two culturally diverse countries, namely Australia and Singapore, so as to foster an active relationship among them, as well as to explore new possibilities of art forms resulting from the collaboration. It is hoped that such an exchange will not only help establish good ties with foreign artists, but also provide BUFFER-KIT an opportunity to interact among themselves and gain exposure internationally.
The first phase of the artist exchange project took place in January 2003, when the Australian artists (who call themselves LOOSE TOOTH) visited Singapore and worked with BUFFER-KIT to produce collaborative artworks in an exhibition titled 10:10. The event had allowed the two groups of artists to interact for the first time, and also introduced the Singapore art scene to the Australian artists.
The second phase of the project was held in Western Sydney in June 2003, with the staging of an exhibition titled Potluck at Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, and a documentation show at Con-Temporary Arts Access Centre, Parramatta. Besides preparing for the exhibition, part of the itinerary included visiting the University of Western Sydney (UWS), and meeting students from the Fine Art Department. As such, there was an exchange of artistic experiences between the Singapore artists and UWS students. There were also visits to galleries and museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Penrith Regional Gallery and the Lewers Bequest. The Singapore team therefore gained much exposure, and also got to learn how foreign museums and galleries present their exhibitions.
An Exhibition by 20 Artists from LOOSE TOOTH, Australia, and
BUFFER-KIT, Singapore, in an Artists Exchange Programme co-hosted by The SUBSTATION LTD and PLASTIQUE KINETIC WORMS
Singapore…BUFFER-KIT Australia…LOOSE TOOTH
Han Kiang Siew (NUS) Annamarie Uren
Betsy Toh (NIE) Karen Young
Nathanael Tan (NIE) Tanya White
Tang Ling Nah (LASALLE-SIA) Samantha Rath
Matt Chia (LASALLE-SIA) Cecile Cummings
Celine Yeo (Substation) Meg Buchecker
Shiah Chyi Yun (NAFA) Janine Fenton-Sager
Neng Mohd Sa’at (NAFA) Carli Collins
Chia Chu Yia (NAFA) Glenn Capps-Jenner
Baidah Ahmad (SGH) Sari Kivinen Carli Collins
Opens Fri 24 January 2003
7:00pm The Substation Ltd
8:30pm Plastique Kinetic Worms (PKW)
Exhibition continues till Wed 19 February 2003
Guest of Honour
Mr Gary Quinlan
Australian High Commissioner
The Substation Ltd
45 Armenian Street Singapore 179936
Tel (065) 6 337 7535, Fax (065) 6 337 2729
Mon–Sun, 11am–9pm, Closed on Public Holidays
Plastique Kinetic Worms
61 Kerbau Road Singapore 219185
Tel (065) 6 292 7783, Fax (065) 6 292 2936
Tues–Sat, 11am–6pm, Closed on Sun, Mon & Public Holidays
Ms Celine Yeo (Programme Executive—Visual Arts, The Substation Ltd)
Tel (065) 6 337 7535, Fax (065) 6 337 2729
Ms Tang Ling Nah (Artist, Part-time Arts Administrator, PKW)
Tel (065) 6 292 7783, Fax (065) 6 292 2936
Email: type tlnartistsx and followed by @yahoo.com.sg
10:10 is the exhibition title of the Artists Exchange 2003, which is co-organised by The Substation Ltd and Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore. “10:10” could refer to a score of ten on both sides of two competitors or the time as read on a digital clock or watch. Here, it essentially points to the interaction between the ten artists representing each country for this exchange project.
Initiated by the University of Western Sydney, Australia, the project seeks to foster an active relationship among the culturally diverse artists, as well as to explore new possibilities of art forms resulting from the collaboration. It is hoped that such an exchange will not only help establish good ties with foreign artists, but also provide the local young artists an opportunity to interact among themselves and gain exposure internationally.
The first phase of the programme takes place in January 2003. It consists of hosting the Australian artists (who call themselves LOOSE TOOTH) here in Singapore, as they get involved in the production process along with their partners—the local artists (who call themselves BUFFER-KIT). Each local artist would pair up with an Australian counterpart to produce a final collaborative artwork. The collaborative efforts will culminate in a joint exhibition held at the Substation and Plastique Kinetic Worms galleries.
The second phase would occur in June 2003, in which the local artists would travel to Sydney, Australia, and engage in a similar collaborative exhibition. In this way, the local artists would be exposed to a foreign culture and learn to respond to the Australian context with an artwork by interacting with their Australian counterparts.
The local artists come from various backgrounds, such as the National University of Singapore (NUS), LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts (LASALLE-SIA), Nanyang Academy of Fine Art (NAFA) and National Institute of Education (NIE).