Threads & Tensions – Stories from Southeast Asia

Dates: 4 November 2017 – 7 January 2018

Location : Yeo Workshop, Gillman Barracks, Singapore

Yeo Workshop presents Threads & Tensions – Stories from Southeast Asia, an exhibition showcasing the work of four contemporary artists who document changing life in the region. A disparate mix of aesthetics and artistic expression, the bodies of works by these artists are tied together by their purpose; they explore stages of development in the different countries and reflect a forgotten or endangered lifestyle in Southeast Asia.

In the main gallery, Santi Wangchuan’s Weaving of Memorable Space presents a new body of weaving works in a smaller format than his usual works. The presentation of these works is informed by Wangchuan’s desire to capture an endangered weaving craft, one that is under-celebrated and presented in an uncompromisingly organic style. Like an encompassing snapshot of this culture and economy, each detail in Santi’s work informs about an element and allows for continuous re-visitation.

This framing of history through artistic means is also practiced by street portrait photographer Loke Hong Seng. Through his photographs, Loke exposes the dramatic transformation in Singapore’s way of life since the founding years, till the nation’s development took a new path. Here he is documenting the changing industries and how the people lived and felt through this time. The historical documentation is complemented by the decisive eye in his photographic practice.

Kanchana Gupta’s Work In Progress, which borrows from images of migrant labour in the construction industry, acts as a disruptive force in the gallery’s main exhibition space. The blue tarpaulin is a ubiquitous object both in the slums of her native India and current home, the ever-evolving Singapore. Reference to urbanism and city-dwelling is integral to Gupta’s work, but its presence is about temporariness, movement and concealment; something wrapped and under construction.

Jim Allen Abel (JIMBO) re-visits historical events and the reportage of them to create experiences that inform and remind audiences that the current conditions are scripted from our understanding of it. His 3-part photography series Burning Down the History is a fictionalization of the manipulation of history that the artist explores.

Threads & Tensions – Stories from Southeast Asia invites us to observe contemporary Southeast Asian life through the stories and research of the artists. These artists find themselves part of contemporary efforts to document endangered “threads” of Southeast Asian history. The works presented in the exhibition come together as an experience of obsolete cultural practices and histories forgotten. These accounts through morsels of our past through important regional culture are repurposed as tools for re-examining our present and its known constants.

Santi Wangchuan

Born in 1988, Santi Wangchuan earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Thai Art (Second Class Honors) from the Faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, and recently graduated with an MFA in Visual Arts, the Faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, Bangkok. Most recently in 2015, Wangchuan was awarded the “3rd Honoured Bronze Award” at the 61st National Exhibition of Art, Bangkok, Thailand. He has participated in multiple art exhibitions, such as the 35th Bualuang Painting Exhibition, The Queen’s Gallery, Bangkok in 2013, and the Amata Foundation’s ‘Art Awards’.

Loke Hong Seng

Loke Hong Seng was born in Singapore in 1943. In 1973, he received the Golden Award from the 3rd Singapore Photo Art Photography Society, and in 1974, contributed one work that was selected at the Photokina Exhibition in Cologne, Germany, with “One World for All” UNESCO Award. He also exhibited at the Unesco Headquarters in Paris in 1975 with “Human Settlement”. Exhibitions for the artist include group presentations at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts entitled Vernacula_As Seen Through Art, Film & Photography, 24 April – 19 May 2015; The World Around Us at The American Club Singapore from 1 May – 30 June 2015; a public display of Singapore River and its Trade at the Raffles Place Park MRT station from 1 July 2015 – 30 August 2015; and at the UOB public plaza during August 2015.

Kanchana Gupta

Kanchana Gupta is an artist of Indian origin who lives and works in Singapore. She completed an MA in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of Arts and works with paint, installation and mixed media supports. Her paintings and mixed media works have been part of two solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions in Singapore. Her current research and practice explores the shifting relationships between pieces through a process of construction, deconstruction and re-construction of painting surfaces using tearing and peeling methods. Kanchana is also a recipient of the Winston Oh Travel Research Award, 2015.

Jim Allen Abel

Jim Allen Abel (b. 1975 Makassar, Indonesia) aka JIMBO. He studied photography and interior design at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta, completing in 20015. Based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Jimbo is an active member of Mes56, an artist collective focused on the critical exploration of contemporary photographic practices, since its inception in 2002. Jimbo’s works primarily respond to and comment on the ways historical events are interpreted through the prism of power politics, investigating hierarchical power structures and their effects on social and interpersonal relationships.