Naima Morelli

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Tag "contemporary art"

Ruangsak

CoBo has just published one of my favourite interview from my reportage in Thailand, the one to Bangkok-based artist Ruangsak Anuwatwimon.

Ruangsak feels compelled to fight for environmental awareness. His poetic installations take on this cause, revealing the brutality of humans towards the Earth, buried under a beautiful surface.

Here is the link to the interview

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Pattana

Another article from my reportage in Thailand. This is an interview with artist and photographer Pattana Chuenmana, and has been just published by CoBo.

Here is the link to the interview

 

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Torlarp
More from my reportage on Thai contemporary. This piece, just published by CoBo, is an interview to Chiang Mai artist Torlarp Larpjaroensook, owner of Seescape Gallery. I have really great admiration for this self-made-man, and of course self-made-artist, who is all about the community.

And as a side note, I started doing this job, arts writing, more than 10 years ago now. And yet, every time an article of mine is published, I’m still so thrilled and grateful. The interviews, the chance to ask questions, the artworks, the artists, the magazines I write for and my incredible editors, the people I met, the people I traveled with, the chance to explore the world, to learn about it through its artists, the impressions, the learning, the struggles and still being here to tell tale.

I feel incredible blessed to live this life, doing this job. Hopefully some glimmer of the bliss, both mine and the one of Torlarp’s, will transpire through the lines.

Here is the link of the interview

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Donna Ong

Part of the charm of the forest is that it is supposed to be dangerous and mysterious. In this way you can still appreciate it but in a safe way. It’s an interesting metaphor about what is happening in Singapore. In the first chapter we have already talked about the work of Donna Ong in respect to the idea of tropical nature. We looked at “The Forest Speaks Back” which explored the idea of the tropics, by conveying two different points of view: that of the colonisers, and those of natives. Donna is interested in how the narrative for nature in Singapore has changed and evolved: “I think previously there was a lot of emphasis on the Garden City, so we had tropical nature but made it into a garden. A tamed tropical garden rather than a forest.”

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MoroccoEuropeAfrica

The webmagazine Middle East Monitor has just published my article “While Europe looks at Moroccan art, Moroccan art looks at Africa.” I am developing a growing interest towards this country which has such a rich and diverse culture, and can’t wait to delve deeper. So stay tuned!

Here is the link to the article

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HDB

“Yearning is the dominant theme that runs through all of my work,” said the outstanding photographer Nguan to The Straits Times. “Singaporeans are restless by nature – we have wandering hearts. This picture describes the longing to be in a different place or time.” Nguan is probably the artist who best caught the poetic, ineffable, paster colour heat of Singapore. In his delicate photographs, depicting mundane moments, suspended in silence, he is able to capture the soft alienation of his own city.

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URBAN/NATURE

In this book, I used opposite categories not as parallel dichotomies or binaries that never touch each other, but rather as two extremes of a spectrum. This also goes for one of the core themes that many Singaporean artists measure themselves with: that of the urban space and the natural space. Again, we will examine the matter from different angles. At the level of the artwork, city and nature are themes many artists muse on. Then we will look at the space itself and the way the physical structure and size of artist studios, art spaces, galleries, houses and where they are located in the city have an effect on the art production. On top of that, we will look at the idea of nature as a way to go – quite literally – back to the roots. Indeed, the attitudes of Singaporeans towards nature and art are very similar, so it is almost inevitable to draw parallels. As something that is supposed to grow organically and spontaneously, art has always been seen as something “natural” to humans. This goes for the whole art ecosystem. Precisely an ecosystem, as we can’t help using a nature-related terminology here.

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Ruben Pang

“Wait! Is it allowed to talk about incest on the Singapore metro?” I abruptly asked with an alarmed note in my voice to the scrawny guy in front of me, holding onto the bar of the red line. I looked for a reaction in the faces of the people on the metro. Nothing. Someone told me that Singaporeans don’t complain to your face. In their heads though, they had probably already labelled me as a loud-speaking Italian as soon as I opened my mouth.

“We can talk about whatever we want!” replied Ruben Pang in a stubborn tone which implied than yes, it was not advisable to talk about incest on the Singapore metro, but rules didn’t apply to us free-thinkers.

Ah, the fleeting camaraderie you establish for a few hours with some of the artists you interview! I really liked Ruben Pang, but I was wary. In three hours, he had already told me three times that he is a person who gets easily bored. The thing with these ultra-nice people is that they never say what they truly want. They endure boredom, endure struggles, and they act as if everything is fine. On top of that, Ruben also declared to passionately admire the stoics, especially Seneca. He finds their endurance in the face of sufferings and the fact they never complain, totally badass.

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Gerald Leow

“Why should the government pay you to have fun?”

Yeah, right, why? Gerald Leow was the first person who phrased the question in this way. It shows that the kind of questions you ask, and the way you ask it, can result in overturning an entire vision, or perhaps making some hidden dynamics come to the surface.

This very simple question is one which artists from other countries would have asked themselves visiting Singapore, but a question that perhaps not many Singaporeans are asking themselves, perhaps not in this way. Gerald is aware of it: “I have very controversial views. I think as an artist…”, he hesitates as he ponders the words. “That’s the only thing that makes you special. It’s your mojo, you know? And then instead of protecting this thing and having full autonomy over it, you give it to someone else and say, “Here: how about you dictate what kind of work should I do?” To me it sounds ridiculous.”

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Funding Shaping the Work of Artists

Let’s go back to The Substation for a second. We mentioned that when the space started in 1990, it was the very first art space in Singapore, before SAM, before the Esplanade and much earlier than the National Gallery. In the narrative of the local art world, the existence of this place encouraged many people to gather to appreciate and make art, music or writing in a way that couldn’t be found anywhere else in Singapore. This was a sign for the government, who acknowledged the situation, observed a spontaneous surge of creativity and cultural momentum, and decided it was high time to open up an art museum five years later. “We were actually forcing to government to shape policies in some way last time,” said Alan Oei during our conversation: “But once they shaped the policies, we kind of have been sucked into their policies and we haven’t made them change anything for a long time.”

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Lim Tzay-Chuen’s elliptical approach

It’s a matter of fact that when a concept is so deeply embedded in a society, often artists tackle it not as a separate topic, but in its many manifestations. As Tan Boon Hui Calvin, Vice President, Global Arts & Cultural Programs and Director, Asia Society Museum, NY, à Asia Society, puts it : “The best work engaging with the concept of bureaucracy is the elliptical in approach. I honestly do not think it will be as blunt as ‘bureaucracy’.” One example of this elliptical approach is the work of Lim Tzay Chuen.

The artist describes his work as being concerned with “offering” solutions to possible problems, becoming about administration and organisation – aspects that are an integral part of the art world, but are usually left out from the official narrative. For the Biennale of Sydney, he designed and coordinated an open proposition to the public: “Enterprising” persons who got hold of certain pages from the 2004 Biennale catalogues would enjoy the privilege of using the Artspace Gallery 1, AUD $4000, 4 nights of hotel accommodation and official inclusion as one of the invited “artists” to the Biennale.

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Dinh Q. Lê’s Pure Land: Beauty in Everything

One of the most interesting, beautiful and disquieting shows I have visited in Bangkok was “Pure Land” at Tang Contemporary in Bangkok, a show by artist Dinh Q. Lê’s, curated by Loredana Paracciani. I have written about it for CoBo.

Here is the link to the review

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