Ng Siew Kuan

Who shot Guy Debord? in New Criteria

A Pictorial Supplement, Ray Langenbach, Suzann Victor, Ng Siew Kuan & Jason Lim ... When capital accumulates to a great enough degree, it becomes an image and it is this image that the French artist, Guy Debord, calls the ‘spectacle’. Meaning lives not within any image but in the charged space between viewer and image, where the viewer has become mere image as well. The simple act of seeing becomes an act of self consumption or what Langenbach calls ‘panoptic cannibalism’. Because this charged space contains veils of information imposed by an alienating capitalist economy culture, one can only arrive at ‘true meaning’ (if there is such a thing) through a strategy of acknowledging the alienation in the work of art.

The focus of Suzann Victor’s art is the body. Her work concerns the shift between gender and body politics, and challenges perceptions of power relations in the art world and society as a whole. Victor’s work for New Criteria will feature a series of stools or highback chairs, which will carry images of genitalia and gynaecological views of an infant’s head at various stages of birth. Spurred by the women´s movement and western art-historical traditions, Victor’s work has elements of indecorous patterning and allegorises household domesticity. It is building on a groundwork for a more feminised art and more vigorous questioning of contemporary attitudes towards the different roles within life´s rituals.

For Jason Lim and Ng Siew Kuan, clay is a medium to scrutinise, analyse and redefine the physical form and inner values of their art. Their point of view recalls the work of the environmental-artists of the early 70’s which maintained that any meaningful creative activity should put both the artists and the audience/participants in touch with nature in special ways. This first-time collaboration between Ng and Lim at The Substation is an engaging ‘sculptural event’. With the entire inner end of the gallery covered with a mixture of clay and grog, the artists and audience are invited to fashion container/vessels which are to be housed on shelves, placed midway in the gallery also serve as a screen demarcate the active working space from the passive space in the other half of the gallery. At this side, Lim and Ng will arrange and manipulate polaroid photographs of the actual interaction that will take place throughout the duration of the installation......

Source: Ray Langenbach

Following text from New Criteria III, dialog with Siew Kuan and Amanda Heng about on collaboration

.......Siew Kuan: No, I don´t think so. I tend to approach art from a formalist angle. If I were to try and say something it will be when I have honed myself enough to say it in a subtle way or through some sort of satire. That kind of approach I will adopt rather than open confrontation That I will do only if the situation becomes so critical that it warrants an open confrontation We really have to sit and think and weigh out what the whole thing means: how you think, how you feel at that point of time. If everything is not so politicised then sometimes coming in to rock the boat just to make some noise - I don’t know if that is really wise. Sometimes you don’t have to say what you have to say with loud actions.

Amanda: I think that depends on the individual’s personality

Siew Kuan: Definitely.

Amanda: Is there any difference to you between collaborating with a woman or a man?

Siew Kuan: I don’t think it’s so gender specific, but you could always argue that a man has certain sensitivities and a woman has certain sensitivities. I know you tend to take a very feminist stance on things but working with you, I did not so much see you as female, it was more about seeing you as a Person, and the same thing with working with Jason. It is based more on personalities than on gender. I want to add that this is not just a collaboration between me and Jason. The whole ‘New Criteria’ thing is also working with Ray and Suzann.

Amanda: So you see the whole project as a collaboration.

Siew Nuan: I think it is a sort of partnership, a sharing of responsibilities. You come to it with certain inputs and I come with certain inputs and the audience comes with certain inputs. Inevitably, just like performance art or any collaboration that allows this kind of process, there is always the question of who is in complete control?

Amanda: That’s right. This is precisely what performance art is; it’s about challenging traditional art practices. It is basically trying to decentralise the control of power.

Amanda Heng is a practising artist.

Source: Ray Langenbach

Project Four Exhibition by Low Eng Teong, Ng Siew Kuan, Chua Chye Teck and Sivakumaran

29.05. - 17.06.1998     PLASTIQUE KINETIC WORMS