As an overview, An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season and Time Passes are exhibitions that are part of the Proposals for Novel Ways of Being – A collective response by the visual arts community to the global pandemic and its impact on the Singaporean community.
As mentioned by Syaheedah, she shared how Glitch Season looks at things on a macro scale whereas Time Passes looks at things on a micro scale. This was very interesting to me as despite the two exhibitions being dedicated to reflecting responses regarding the pandemic and its impacts, both exhibitions displayed stark differences.
The first thing that I noticed about Glitch Season was that indeed almost all of the artworks focused on the macro and it is evident in the scale of the artwork and also the physical execution of the artwork. Taking Kin Chui’s “Station 13010”, the artwork takes up a large area of the exhibition and the focal point of the artwork, a collage of QR codes, hung from the top of the ceiling, almost reaching down to the floor. This collage actually leads the audience to multiple links respectively and it had to be put together for people to make up the big picture that the artist is trying to convey. This is also applicable when looking at Clara Lim’s 3GHz as well as the collage of old advertisements created a pattern that raises the problematic themes advertisements of the past showcased.
As mentioned by Samantha, Time Passes looks at the “care” in the creation of the artworks and the relationship that is put across from the materials to the artists and then to the audience. This is where I believe the micro comes in is that these artworks showcases the seemingly little or previously ignored things in life and how it had changed after the pandemic happened. This brings me to the artwork that I would like to go more in detail.
“Render Tender” is a mixed media installation by Singaporean artist Divaagar. Divaagar (b.1992) is an interdisciplinary artist who works with installation, performance, and digital media. He works at the intersections of bodies, identities, and environments, imbuing narratives into places, spaces and situations. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts in 2018.
Divaagar’s “Render Tender” takes on the set-up of a fictional reiki studio that channels remote healing through the aid of projected visuals and a calming soundscape. Render Tender deems how acts of care persist and can be showcased and encountered in intimate isolation. Drawing from reiki, the artwork aims to provide a form 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.
Items on Side table
Overall setting of artwork
I was first drawn to the artwork due to its mysterious exterior with sheer curtains barely allowing me to make up what was on the other side. This instantly made me curious and drew me to enter.
Exterior of artwork taken from divaagar.com/render-tender
Right off the bat, I instantly felt a lot calmer as I understood that the artwork is trying to pass off as a meditative space in one’s home. It was comfortable yet it was weirdly intriguing. I scoped the entire setting and distracted myself with the hanging beads and items on the side table before I actually took a seat on one of the benches. It took me quite sometime to notice the projection above and it required extra effort to look up.
Projection showing from the ceiling
I thoroughly enjoyed the projection as I stared at it for almost a minute and found myself in almost a trance. The words projected almost sort of manifested in me as I say it out loud in my head. The reappearing hands in the projection also helped with the hypnotics as it manages to calm myself down and to focus on the different elements of the projection one by one. I also come to understand that the projection aims to “heal” the audience that are in isolation at home or in their room during the pandemic.
Although I appreciated how beautiful and addictive the projection is, I do sense some disconnect between the entire setting and the projection itself. The first pressing issue that I have to raise would be how the projection is placed. I’d like to think that the projection is the focal point of the entire exhibition but it was the last thing that I take notice of when I stepped into the artwork space. I wonder if placing actual yoga mats or even a simple carpet would help showcase the projection better as it would actually allow the audience to lie down and face the projection in its full glory.
Another issue would be the placement of the artwork in the exhibition. I’m not sure if this was intentional or a coincidence but Render Tender is placed right next to Chong Lii and Christian Kingo, “Blue Trapezium” where there were many loud erratic sound effects being played from time to time. This caused quite a distractions especially when Render Tender is aimed at allowing people to meditate and heal. However, I actually loved this placement as it actually reflect the world when the pandemic first struck as chaos broke loose and many people are actually trying so hard to try and get their mental health in check.
To summarise on the entire exhibition, I feel that moving forward in the next few years, artists and in fact all creators, would have to learn to adapt new ways of working and making their craft. Without realising, the pandemic almost changed all of our lives and it also created new genres of work that we never knew we would explore if it didn’t actually happen. I am also curious and also interested to see how art changes both locally and internationally as artists create works in reply or reflection to the pandemic.