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MAAP in Singapore: GRAVITY

Oct 22-Nov 17

 Da Contents H2

October 22 2004
MAAP in Singapore 2004 - Gravity: Introduction
Keith Gallasch

GRAVITY - MAAP in Singapore
November 30 -1
A museum of accidents
Virginia Baxter

GRAVITY: Kim Kichul, Sound Drawing
An eye for sound
Gail Priest

SCAN: Asia Art Archive at The Substation
Archiving history face to face
Keith Gallasch talks to Angela Seng

GRAVITY:, alpha3.5crush
Computer juice
Gail Priest

GRAVITY, Singapore Art Museum
Conceptual leaps
Gail Priest

Symposium: GRAVITY
November 30 -1
Every available space
Virginia Baxter

-+-(negative plus negative)
Living the in-between
Keith Gallasch

MAAP artists' talk
Material boys
Keith Gallasch

Katawán, Satti
The body between: an interview/review
Keith Gallasch talks to Fatima Lasay

New Video Art From Australia
The inevitable body
Michael Lee Hong Hwee

-+-(negative plus negative)
November 30 -1
The pause that refreshes
Virginia Baxter

The Gravities of Sound Audio Tunnel/GRAVITY extended
The weight of public spaces
Gail Priest

New Video Art From Australia
The wild ones
Ho Tzu Nyen

GRAVITY, Singapore Art Museum
When words flail you
Gail Priest


Living the in-between

Keith Gallasch

Anthony Gross, From Here to Eternity II, Computer animation installation, UK, 2002 - present Anthony Gross, From Here to Eternity II, Computer animation installation, UK, 2002 - present
-+-(negative plus negative), is a contemplative, sometimes gently disorienting experience, a tautly curated exhibition (Gridthiya Gaweewong), modest in scale but richly suggestive, comprising works by Thai and Thailand-based British artists. It quietly embraces the domestic–a trio of large Bangkok family portraits vibrate in "the 'in-between' space of photography and animation"; the urban–a 3-screen "healing space [offers] refuge from the pressures of everyday life"; the political–roped monitors loop tense border crossing images; the cosmic–3D animated meteorites tumble and disintegrate; and the metaphysical–a projected, rotating mandala critiques the foolishness that brings on economic crises.

The sense of in-betweenness is pervasive in -+-(negative plus negative), sometimes triggering the curious dialectic suggested by the title, sometimes evoking suspension (and MAAP's gravity theme) both literally and metaphorically, and generating a reflective unease, a reminder that borders are not just lines to be crossed but states where being is denied or can evaporate.

In Wit Pinkanchanapan's Family Portrait (2002; see Virginia Baxter, "The pause that refreshes") the father hoses his hand in the garden. It's a still-life video with a little movement, a kind of involuntary vibration of body and globules of suspended water. There's an odd sense of vulnerability. In the next portrait, in a moment of control and anticipation, the mother in traditional dress holds up a treat for 3 large, eager dogs as high as her waist. The third portrait is of a young woman in a domestic storeroom holding a large blue plastic box labelled "PA Supply." The only subject to look at the camera, she smiles, moving the box ever so slightly up and down, suggesting both the weight of the task and her strength. Apparently she is not 'family.' The son is the portraitist. This woman is a maid, presumably with all the connotations of that role in South-East Asia in terms of labour, migration and exploitation, and the status of the servant as part of the family, or not. The vibration of minimal and repeated action in this trio of images reads like a capture for a time capsule, a quivering trace of middle class Thai life in the early 21st century.
Kamol Phaosavasdi, Techno Temple, Video Installation, Thailand, 2004 Kamol Phaosavasdi, Techno Temple, Video Installation, Thailand, 2004
Kamol Phaosavasdi's Techno Temple is also an experience of stasis and movement, but here the dynamic is of sustained stillness and sweeping flow rather than the minutiae of vibration. The image on the central screen is grey and white, flaring, still. The gallery text says it's a real time image of a room. The image to the left is of a busy intersection in the passage between light and dark, traffic moving in stop-start flows, the predictability of the rhythm exaggerated by running the camera slow so that the patterning is accelerated. Rather than the image inducing infamous Bangkok traffic anxiety, its effect is painterly and calming. The vehicles gather before the stoplights, neat and still before rushing away, merging and dissolving into long brush-like streaks of colour, a river of abstracted traffic, and from the other direction comes a transcendent flood of headlights. The accompanying sound score, among other things, is of the flow of water, a chorus of birds and perhaps temple chanting and bells in an otherworldly sonic constellation. Techno Temple is just like the refuge offered by real temples in the midst of busy Asian cities, where noise seems to be backgrounded or banished. The third screen displays a sandy surface over which screen-deep layers of words scroll left to right, rippling in and out of view as they pass over slight ridges. No explanation of their meaning is at hand, but their constant, gentle flow suggests again meditative reflection as part of a cumulative, 3-screen image of urban life, language and domestic space viewed from an easeful distance and transformed into ethereal forms.

In a long, darkened space, 2 meteorites in From Here to Eternity II, by British artist Anthony Gross, appear one at a time on separate screens angled slightly towards each other. As one meteorite forms suddenly from a small cluster of tiny stars and rolls through space, the other on the second screen becomes transparent, flares with colour and explodes, and the cycle starts up again. In each appearance the shape of the large meteorite is the same, but it is the colour and texture of the surface which fascinates as it changes cycle to cycle, from a crusty white, to grey, to orange flecked with reds, looking sometimes precious, sometimes hot, snakeskin-like, sometimes stark, icy and threatening. The 'Eternity' evoked here is of endless creation and destruction, a sameness relieved by the beauties of the transformations allowed by colour and form. From Here to Eternity is a novel (and subsequently a famous film) by James Jones about tensions of race, class and sex within the American forces in World War II. Gross' vision offers no narrative and no such specificity, just a series of not big but small beautiful bangs. The overarching rhythm of the turning meteorites punctuated by explosions and the dance of stars prior to re-creation places us again in the in-between, in a visual mantra of the acceptance of cycle and change.

In the 16-minute video loop installation A Song for No Man, Jim Prevett & McArthur (the aggregate name of just one artist) hangs one video monitor from the ceiling with thick rope, tying it to another placed facing it on a chair. On the hung monitor a man hangs in space, we see him from the waist down, jerking about, the result of editing but uncomfortably like watching a hanging. He is suspended over a road that leads to a border control station. People cross the border on a sunny day, officers go about their tasks, while the hanged man is ignored, stuck in-between, between nation states, between life and death. On the second monitor, people wait in transit in what looks like an airport customs control section. A veiled woman stands by her luggage trolleys interminably waiting, but suddenly 2 men wheel them away for her. The soundtrack grumbles with slowed down voices, the dark murmur of authority. Here people seem to pass through the in-between of borders, but slowly. The light of one image, the darkness of the other, the tortuous fixity of the first and the underworld gloom but fluidity of the second play out a grim dynamic.
Sakarin Krue-on, Circle of Hope, Single-screen video, 5-min loop, Thailand, 2003 Sakarin Krue-on, Circle of Hope, Single-screen video, 5-min loop, Thailand, 2003
Sakarin Krue-on's Circle of Hope is a 5 minute video loop in which the image of Nang Gwag, the goddess of prosperity (whose image graces the entrances of many a Thai shopfront) is multiplied many times over in low definition, forming a large rotating circle within which concentric circles multiply, expand and contract, pushing the largest circle out, the whole pulsing with ever-changing lurid colours–pinks, blues, greens, yellows in many permutations against a black background. This mobile mandala is like a giant transparent jellyfish, rippling with colour, swelling and compacting as it moves through deep dark waters. And perhaps it's as toxic as a jellyfish: the gallery text says that the artist's target is the lure of prosperity that creates national economic crises. Seductively beautiful in itself, Circle of Hope is an ironic, mesmeric meditation on prosperity, portraying desire as a living thing. The in-between suggested by this work resides in the disjunction between the beauty of the image and the false hope it conjures.

-+-(negative plus negative) is a satisfying and well deployed gathering of works in which border states are experienced not just as content, whether political, moral or psychological, but in vibrations, pulsing and flows, a visual musicality that links all the works in their very different evocations of in-between states.

-+-(negative plus negative), curator Gridthiya Gaweewong, Project 304, Chiangmai, Thailand; organised by Earl Lu Gallery, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts and MAAP; MAAP in Singapore-GRAVITY, Oct 7-31

RealTime issue #77 Feb-March 2007

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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