In celebration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, visual arts exhibition EX PARTE will open at London’s Brick Lane Gallery on 17 June. It will bring together extraordinary works of Singaporean and UK artists. These artists have spent time living and working in Singapore, contributing to the arts and creative industries in Singapore. As an official partner event to Singapore Tourism Board’s ‘Singapore: Inside Out”, EX PARTE also aims to present the perspective of Singaporean artists through various multimedia platforms for the audience in UK.
We spoke to Annie Jael Kwan, who is the curator of EX PARTE. She shared her experience and thoughts on Singapore’s effort to promote our arts and creativity to the rest of the world.
You have been away from Singapore for two decades. In a short span of 6 months in 2015, you completed prominent Singaporean themed projects such as Theatre Memories: 50 Years of Singapore Theatre and Singapore Tourism Board’s Singapore: Inside Out travelling showcase. Could you tell us more about what drives you?
This is a very exciting year for Singapore, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. I am grateful for the opportunities, having co-curated an irememberSG project some time back. The project saw the gathering of Singapore theatre memories back home earlier this year I was also invited to curate an exhibition in response to the Singapore Tourism Board’s Singapore: Inside Out travelling showcase, which will be popping up here in June.
Working on these projects has provided an invaluable opportunity to reflect on the many changes that have happened in Singapore so quickly; the incredible growth of the artistic scene. It gives me the chance to ponder on the kind of community I would like to build in the future. At the same time, it has also stirred contemplation about my Singaporean identity, and a rediscovery of my relationship to our island nation.
And perhaps, this is why the last few months have been so meaningful. With these projects, there is a reclaiming of my own connection to Singapore and fellow Singaporeans. I also feel a reconnection with my own history. Being a part of this extended community is also about finding out how to contribute from home or away. I hope everyone can come to view the exhibition and support these artists. They’re making Singapore proud, not only in London, but across the world.
EX PARTE pays tribute to prominent works of Singaporean and UK artists. Why did you choose to curate it and how has your experience been like?
EX PARTE, which will be shown in Shoreditch during June, is a curatorial response to this year’s global cultural campaign to celebrate the arts and creative industries in Singapore. Having lived and worked in UK/Europe for many years and moving constantly between home and here, I wanted to give my “fellow-commuter” artists who have also lived and worked here for extended periods of time, an opportunity to express their unique perspectives and experiences.
It has been very pleasurable to spend time with the artists, a mix of both Singaporean and British nationalities, who have these bits of Singaporean DNA in them. Being together, there is shared shorthand – I know we’ve seen the same things, smelt the same places – and have common delight in places where we eat (yes, indeed). Being together was like, briefly being transported back to Singapore. Working together with their works has also given a deeper understanding of these different perspectives about life and art both in Singapore and in London.