The Singapore Art Museum is casting its net far and wide with a new exhibition that brings together moving-image artists from throughout Southeast Asia. The traditional cinematic form is explored by the likes of Ming Wong, whose Making Chinatown, 2012, reworks key scenes from Roman Polanski’s original 1974 film, Chinatown, which featured Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The artist casts himself in each starring role against a backdrop of stills, examining the geographical significance of Los Angeles and the artifice of theatrical narrative within the picture.
Fellow Singaporean Sarah Choo Jing is similarly preoccupied with urban landscapes. Her installations highlight commonalities found in different cultural districts throughout the metropolis: the distinct transient environment of the hotel and the isolating nature of working in a modern office. Hayati Mokhtar investigates themes of cultural objects and identity in a video observing the heritage of Falim House, a historical colonial property in Ipoh, Malaysia.
More lo-fi methods are employed by the Indonesian collective Tromarama, known for its stop-motion animations created from simple household objects. In Zsa Zsa Zsu, 2007, thousands of buttons and beads are employed to create a Technicolor performance by the rock band RNRM (Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia). Thai “pixel artist” Oomleo also uses a methodology based on binary repetition. His complex graphic works recall the 8-bit computer games of the 1980s and reimagine the world around him, bringing together the aesthetic of outmoded, nostalgic technologies to convey contemporary concerns.
Cinerama: Art and the Moving Image in Southeast Asia is on view at the Singapore Art Museum, 17 November 2017 – 18 March 2018.