Florets and other precious things
‘Things kept, things left unkept,’
My home is a studio, place of work, a place of keepsakes, a place of storage, a place of making.
A place with tests, materials, samples, the unsold and the somewhat useful for some future time. With an unsteady income, keeping things has become a way of life. I save - store - hoard - keep all that I can because maybe tomorrow there will be nothing. The uncertainty is the rational for keeping that which has been collected, made, tried, tested… like a sketch, a memory of what might be possible for the future. My home/studio has become a place of materials and mementos. Unpacked they serve as a material diary of a life in Singapore, keeping these archives of events - successes and failures of the past 15 years - I surround myself with a life that has passed so quickly, in an instant it seems - impossible to know where the years have gone. Living in Singapore is a tenuous experience.
Yet, the weather is a constant – always hot, always humid – and provides no variation to mark the passing of seasons and the passing of time. Projects roll over – one to the next, with no real stop or start, they overlap, with a slow emergence and soft closures. Few lines are drawn in the sand, few days are celebrated as different – there is a constant consistency that flows through the years.
However - the approaching MRT subway station has signaled a shift, a change in life, which has arrived sooner than expected. All residences in Kuo Chuan will be ‘moved along’ and the street rebuilt. Forced to leave Kuo Chuan, my home for over 15 years, will be a substantial task. Collecting and amassing a great deal of stuff during this time, equipment and materials being the ‘essentials’ of my life, my trade and my living, means that the large and growing collection of glass, tools, samples, artworks, tests, leftovers and equipment gathered, requires a concerted process of sorting, clearing and removal.
Most hoarders in Singapore tend to collect newspapers and cardboard, readily available and collectable – exchanged for cash with the karung guni collectors. The need to leave my home facilitates a self-questioning with regards to the reasons why I have kept things for so long. I start the long process of clearing as I ask why do I keep this, how do I loss things and how do I remove things from my responsibility without remorse. Abstract items, objects, stuff imbued with memories of a time, yet soon they need to be cleared.
Archive as Art Project, was thus begun in 2016, started as a process of clearing, however as life, projects and exhibitions get in the way and the process stops and starts, the momentum is at times lost. At least I clear enough space to gain access to some wall space, yet I know the process must escalate towards the end of 2018 as I must move early 2019.
My focus, currently is on a commissioned based practice of large architectural installations, means I keep and collect many objects. One strategy to remove items from here was to use them to create new artworks for exhibitions - re-melting, recycling and re-making works only from what I have in the studio. Making new out of old - returning glass, unused, unsold, to a place of origin. Unpacking and repurposing brought into clear contrast my investigations of nostalgia.
Notions of home, place, culture, identity are seen through an investigation of self to find a sense of identity through the objects left on the shelf. The presentation and destruction of that which was precious allows an investigation into why an object, a material, an experience are of particular importance. Is it a retained memory or is it the object itself that is of significance?
Once the memory is acknowledged, is the object still of importance? The process of unpacking, rethinking, rewriting, recording and a re-making is of most importance – as it is the actions that connect to a time past. Yet, the object goes beyond language, cultural differences, is imbued with a set of expectations of what life is or was meant to be.
Collecting and storing creates a sense of safety, as I am cocooned in thickened walls of stuff, samples, materials, unsold objects, books, records of projects managed. A innate sense of safety is created, a protective shell created from things, useful, available, accessible, to use, to make things with, to keep creating and making.