For Immediate Release






A solo exhibition by John Clang

Friday 11th June to Sunday 11th July 2004

Jendela Gallery, The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay



At a Glance


CLANG. A SELF PORTRAIT. is New York-based artist John Clang's visual diary of expressions on issues that he feels relevant to his identity as a Singaporean.  Through a series of photography works featuring a disarmingly real protagonist by the name of BeOn[1], Clang reflects on topics as diverse as reactions to last year's SARS epidemic and universal loneliness in the HDB[2] heartland.  Witty and tongue-in-cheek, there is nevertheless a serious undertone to Clang's work that deftly captures the poignancy of dreams and realities shared in Singapore urbanscape. 



The Exhibition



Clang. A Self Portrait. (Sleeping)


Photography, site-specific Installation

13.5 x 10 cm, series of 9



Clang. A Self Portrait. (SARs)


Photography, site-specific Installation

29 x 43 cm, series of 9






Artist-photographer John Clang has created a new site-specific installation work for his first solo exhibition in Singapore - Clang. A Self Portrait.


A selection of photographs taken from his BeOn series (2003-2004) form the mainstay of the show, which Clang has chosen to stage in the beautiful, if challenging, Jendela Gallery space.


Tales of the city unfold in almost-cinematic tableaus as the completely trusting and unselfconscious BeOn submits to Clang’s direction. Exploring the dynamics of a collaborative creative relationship, the artist and his subject exchange roles at various points as they give expression to the artist’s feelings about events and happenings in Singapore.


In Sleeping, the first of the series, BeOn becomes a traffic-stopper, of people and vehicles. Defiantly falling asleep in the path of danger, BeOn waves a valiant but futile flag for people slow down their frantic pace of life in Singapore.


SARs is a hilariously ironic parody of the irrational panic that swept through the city during the epidemic.  BeOn wears a mask everywhere he goes, even in a swimming pool.  BeOn’s challenging gaze dares you to make fun of him, even as his portraits become symbol of all the faceless fears that cause walls to come up between people.


The third series, Stray Cat, highlights the loneliness and isolation of urban life, cast in relief by the SARs epidemic.  BeOn is a street cat under threat of being culled, having been fingered as the carrier of the mysterious virus.  The once-familiar shadows of home take on an ominous air of danger as BeOn searches out spaces of refuge in the concrete jungle.


In order to create an immersive visual experience for the audience, Clang has worked with oft-time collaborator Theseus Chan to design an exhibition space conspicuously devoid of panel text and other conventional signage.  Forced to rely on their own interpretation of the scenes, the audience is compelled to enter into a wordless dialogue with Clang’s humorous, if sometimes uncomfortable, musings about life for the everyman in Singapore.


Is BeOn Clang or is Clang BeOn?  This perplexing riddle is thrown to the audience who may well end up seeing themselves in Clang’s photographs.


Clang’s move out of Singapore six years ago has only served to sharpen his insights about events and changes in the country he grew up in.  There is a Chinese proverb about how an observer’s view of the situation is always clearer than that of one embroiled in the action.  Clang. A Self Portrait. demonstrates the truth to that saying.



About the Artist


John Clang has exhibited his art internationally since 2000.  Backs (2001), his solo exhibition at the DVF Studio, New York, was soon followed by Porn? (2002), a group show at Proud Galleries, London.  Last year, Clang held two solo exhibitions - Fear of Losing the Existence Bank (2003) in Los Angeles and They were in Colour  (2003) at the Galerie Colette, Paris.  Clang first exhibited in Singapore as a member of the controversial (and now defunct) Singapore art group 5th Passage.  His works were also shown in a group show at the Singapore Art Museum in 2001. Clang. A Self Portrait.,Clang’s first solo exhibition in Singapore, will be held in 2004 at the Jendela Gallery, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.



- End -


Clang. A Self Portrait. is curated by Michelle Lim, and project managed by Yong Lipeng (Art Vital) and Elin Tew (Clang Photography). For more information or high-resolution (300dpi) images, please contact Michelle Lim at







by John Clang



Opening Dates & Times



Friday 11 June 2004 – Sunday 11 July 2004

11am to 8.30pm daily



Preview Evening:


7 pm, Thursday 10th June 2004











Michelle Lim, Curator


Agnes Lim, Programming Officer (Visual Arts)

Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
Tel:      (65) 6828 8254


Address & Directions


Jendela Gallery

Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay

1 Esplanade Drive
Singapore 038981

(Nearest MRT: City Hall Station)


Other Notes of Interest



·         Clang will host a portfolio discussion with young artists and photographers at the Jendela Gallery on Saturday 12 June 2004. (By registration only)


·         As one of the most established young Singaporean photographers around, Clang’s commercial work is familiar to audiences all over the world. He has worked with clients as diverse as Levi’s, Nordstrom, IBM, Adidas, Nylon, Surface and The New York Times Magazine. Clang has also received numerous awards, including PDN’s 30 2001, New York Art Director’s Club and London ACP Awards.


·         Clang’s website is at



[1] BeOn’s name is derived from a command often used on young Singaporean soldiers serving their National Service. The instruction, “Be On!” is the Singaporean colloquial version of the phrase “to be on the ball”.

[2] HDB: Housing Development Board, the Singapore public housing development authority.