Description: Render Tender adopts the set-up of a fictional reiki studio that channels remote healing thought the aid of projected visuals and a calming soundscape. It considers how acts of care persist and can be performed and experience in intimate isolation. The artist draws on reiki, a form of spiritual healing operating through trust and touch that offers a poignant and adaptable model of sustaining intimacy in a pandemic where physical contact must be negotiated.
Walking past the installation, purple lights and sounds of singing bowls peak through the thin translucent curtains. An opening between the drapes invite me into the space designed by Divaagar.
I take a seat on one of the benches and start to absorb the ambiance. Along with singing bowl ringing gently from the centre piece, sounds of water trickling down a fountain immediately takes me away from the solemn atmosphere of the gallery into a familiar space; my yoga space. A sense of calm and serenity takes over me as I start to observe the space around me. Above the sitting area is a round panel with projections on it.
Having not read the installation description before entering the space, I have no idea what the palms being projected on the panel mean. I remain seated as I wish I could lie on the floor to watch the projections. I stand up, circle around the centre piece, and peek into the white box. AHHHH I am blinded by the projector. I take a moment to regain my eyesight and I walk to the panel on the wall to read what the installation is about. “ohhhhhhhhhh…”
Being the person I am, I am immediately drawn to spaces and works that are zen and contemplative. The quietness of the gallery was conducive for creating such an atmosphere for the installation, and I did feel a difference inside vs outside. I was able to spend a couple of minutes sitting in silence while observing the projections and sounds, but was then distracted by my classmates as they came in.
While I am unsure of what limitations the artist had while designing this space, whether by the gallery or for social distancing, I wish there had been a carpet or surface we could have laid on. From my understanding of Reiki, most of the session happen while being in a reclining position with the hand of the healer above you. A sense of energy is being transferred into the body and regulated around to promote spiritual healing and sometimes physical healing. This then brought me back to my previous installation assignment “From Womb to Tomb”. What are the ways we can project energy or an idea of energy in this installation. Additionally, having a different orientation of the chairs might have changed the interaction of the installation. While I thought having them lie down on the ground would be the best way to be positioned, maybe having them back to back or facing the centre piece could be more immersive.
Out of curiosity, I peeked into the box situated at the centre only to be blinded by the projector. I thought that the projector could have been better hidden, as it was not really a part of the installation. And by placing it in the middle, framed by plants and lights, it invited people to look inside.
Thoughts on the entire exhibition and Q&A with the curators:
I found the entire exhibition to be quite inspiring as mostly were interactive objects and spaces. The works invited me to explore similar options for my FYP and also gave me tip & tricks I could use. The session with the curators was extremely insightful as I got to understand how exhibitions are designed and organised. Of course learning how a curator work will help us designers/artist to better understand the brief and limitation better, and with that will allow us to create work that are more adaptable or suited for the exhibition.