SIGNED, DATED 2005 AND NUMBERED 4/10 ON THE REVERSE
THIS WORK IS NUMBER 4 FROM AN EDITION OF 8 PLUS 2 ARTIST'S PROOFS
Kuala Lumpur, Goethe-Insitut, ARTCONNEXIONS: SYD-MLA-KUL, 2005, exh. cat., p. 40-41, illustrated in colour (another edition)
Berlin; Stuggart, ifa Gallery; Melbourne, Goethe-Institut, artconneXions, June 9 - October 29, 2006 (another edition)
Singapore, The CIty Hall, BELIEF: 1st Singapore Biennale 2006, September 1 - November 12, 2006, exh. cat. (another edition)
Karlsruhe, ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves, June 15 - November 4, 2007, exh cat., illustrated. (another edition)
Milan, Primo Marella Gallery, POST-TSUNAMI ART: Emerging Artists from South-East Asia, February 11 - April 5, 2009, exh. cat., p. 11, illustrated in colour (another edition)
Sydney, UTS: Gallery, Littoral Drift, 2 June - 3 July, 2009 (another edition)
Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Negotiating Home, History and Nation, Two Decades of Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia, 1991 – 2011, March 12 -June 26, 2011, exh. cat. (another edition)
Beverly Yong and Adeline Ooi, eds., Yee I-Lann: Fluid World, Kuala Lumpur, 2010, p. 96, illustrated in colour (another edition)
"...[We] know we are connected; our histories, fate and horizon line is shared. A Sabahan in the Philippines has no option but to address Sulu, I just wasn't sure where to begin...
I would journey to the place and photograph the physical vistas, the sea, the sky, the islands. The simultaneous journeys I would take would be as a librarian, a collector, sorter of stories and as a researcher using those libraries of information, heavy with baggage, to find a temperament, tempest, temple, template to address Sulu. I was attracted by the idea of photographing 'empty' land/ seascapes, just to hold still the physical space with my camera. My journeys as a librarian and researcher would fill that space, that which was not framed by time, with a mnemonic database.
...I stand on the Malaysian Pulau Selingan off the coast of Sandakan in Sabah. I see two islands in front of me. On the left is Pulau Bakkungan, Philippines, on my right Pulau Bakkungan Kecil, Malaysia. The three islands form a triangle; I am told we are all about 4 kilometers apart. Somewhere between us is a watery formless border but I neither see it nor sense it. We are in a zone not quite Filipino, not quite Malaysian, but very aware of being Sulu. At night I see a giant green back turtle lay her eggs. The guide tells me she has not been previously tagged; she is probably laying her first batch of eggs. He goes on to tell me turtles return to their place of birth when it is time for them to give birth. He estimates this mother to be about thirty years old. I think to myself, here is the communion of landscape and memory, as I help release day old green back turtle hatchlings into the Sulu Sea carrying with them the genetic memory of their being and place."
YEE I-LANN CITED IN THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT, JUNE 2005
PHOTOGRAPHY AND NEW MEDIA ART
"Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man."
Edward Steichen (American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator, 1879 – 1973)
What will our world look like a century from now? The speed with which we move today is alarming. Anyone who has lived or is living in a metropolis would be able to relate to the peak hour rush, the impatience of waiting, the obsession with text messaging or instant information on the web. Technology enables humanity to be constantly on the run, sometimes being in three different continents in less than twenty four hours, leaving behind a blur of fragmented memories. Photography has the magic to perpetuate a sight, a memory, a landscape, and a dream. Further than that, however, it also conjures an alternate universe in which not only imagination but ideals come to life.
Most of Agan Harahap's works stem from the idea of documenting events as if they had really occurred in history. This is seen in both his Safari and Superhero series, which were executed in black and white and appeared like journalistic photograph documentation. In The Cabaret Show (Lot 565), he does the opposite by creating a theatrical stage set that at first glance appears surreal, yet can be duplicated in reality. Three male ballerinas, dressed in fluttering tulle tutus and wearing gas masks, dance and soar against a background of a green forest. However, closer observation reveals that the forest is only a printed cloth. Juxtaposed against the presence of the gas mask, there is a subtle inference that within The Cabaret Show, perhaps trees and forest are things of the past and that the world that we know today is merely make-believe.
Juan Caguicla's Trinity Series #01 (Lot 569) is both glamorous and enigmatic. An earthly angel with a splendid physique is seated in a provocative pose. Her head is thrown back, exposing a column of fair-skinned throat which is completely bare except for a bloody gash across it. Shot in an angle reminsicent of fashion photography, the wound almost looks like a choker necklace. Despite her wound, the angel's posture was determined and strong. She is, in fact, very much alive.
In Common Oddities (Lot 566), MM Yu lovingly and meticulously gathered images of peculiar objects she comes across while roaming the city of Manila over a period of eight years. Representing childhood memories and characteristically Filipino items, such as Jollibee plushies or red, blue and yellow plastic containers, these compositions were not staged. The present work focuses on bright rainbow-like colours, which stands out vividly against its environment of abandoned walls, empty streets or little corners. In the wall installation, duratrans lightboxes are scattered amid matte-finish prints, giving a glow that would look jewel-like in the contrast. Through this humble collection of "common oddities", MM Yu delights in finding beauty where one would least expect it, leading us to rethink what our minds already know and rediscover what our eyes have already seen.
A similar setting is found in Wimo Ambala Bayang's High Hope series (Lot 567), in which he photographs various people with a mound of cotton obscuring their faces and asks them to reveal their innermost hope. The present work features a figure he refers to as Mrs. Kabul. She is a humble street sweeper, standing proudly erect with a broom in her hand while a dilapidated building structure is visible behind her. As humble and simple as she is, however, her hope is for her family to be blessed and to live in God's path. It is a prayer any mother can identify with. With his playful yet profound work, Wimo captures the quintessence of being human, that regardless of nationality, religion, profession or appearance, it is hope that gives us the courage to keep on going, even if we don't see the path we are walking on.
Yee I-Lann's acclaimed Sulu Stories Series (Lot 568) is also one of her most poetic. In the present work, a portrait of a woman on the foreground is juxtaposed against her male counterpart, with only his back visible to the viewer. Strands from her long hair find their way to his back, creating the silhouette of a map. In this ethereal scene, Map merges the compelling mystery of the sea with the legends which history and culture pass on from one generation to another. Past and future is linked by strands of genealogical and cultural heritage and perhaps, by the longing to be connected.
Davy Linggar's Thinking Home (Lot 572) illustrates the transience of memory and our inevitable wish to contain it, immortalize it and bring with us wherever we are. Consisting of 80 boxes, each filled with polaroids, drawings, doodles and painting, the work relates different stories at different stages of life. Its installation is intentionally free-style, such that the work can communicate with its surrounding's unique characteristics. Angki Purbandono's Circus of Doraemon (Lot 573) also exhibits a box of memories of some sort. The objects there represent the toys that the artist played with in his childhood. Each painstaking detail in both works speaks loudly about the unconscious nature of longing and of the humane desire to preserve fleeting moments.
Wawi Navarroza and Tanapol Kaewpring (Lots 570 and 571, respectively), use the grandness of nature to juxtapose the tension between humanity and the environment, between the landscape in our mind and the one that nature gives us, between the parameters we set for ourselves and the untamed intangibility of life.
In the current collection, nine artists working in the field of photography and new media art in Southeast Asia created markedly different visual aesthetics. Some, like Agan Harahap and Juan Caguicla, project a surreal tableau that recalls theatrical performances, while MM Yu and Wimo Ambala Bayang choose to highlight raw grittiness of urban environment. There is also an interesting juxtaposition between using human forms and natural landscape to convey an ethereal atmosphere, like Yee I-Lann, Wawi Navarroza and Tanapol Kaewpring. Davy Linggar and Angki Purbandono evoke a sense of nostalgia in absence and longing. Regardless of the style or subject matter, the thread that links them together is humanity's universal ability to love, to dream, to connect and to find beauty, no matter how fleeting it is.
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