The Life of Things – Exhibition @ Esplanade

The Life of Things exhibition can essentially be broken down into three different parts:

1) Subliminal City:

  • UuDam Tran NguyenSerpent’s Tails
  • Lim SokchanlinaUrban Street Night Club, Wrapped Future, National Road Number 5

2) Relics:

  • Phan Thao-Nguyen, Tropical Siesta, Education of a Poet
  • Sarker Protick, Exodus
  • Sim Chi Yin, One Day We’ll Understand

3) Museum of Modern Sympathy:

  • Kevin Fee, Misfortunes of the Inanimate, To Live and Let Live 

I felt that the whole exhibition did not really manage to successfully curate all the works of three components into a concise manner. The topics and mediums used for each work did not hold much relation to one another. For mediums used, there were photographs, videos, paintings, and a large physical installation.

However, personally I did enjoy the differences between all three parts of exhibition individually as I felt that each time I went to a different location, I was inspired by the freshness of the artists’ ideas was thoroughly interested in the work.

I especially liked Serpent’s Tails, Wrapped Future, Misfortunes of the Inanimate and One Minute Sympathy.

Serpent’s Tails by UuDam Tran Nguyen

I really enjoyed the use of three different screens to show the work instead of the usual one screen that would allow the audience to solely cast their attention on the centrepiece. I think three screens worked for this project because it contributed to the organic and disorganised feeling that I got from the work pertaining to pollution because of the overuse of motorcycles in Vietnam.

The footage was also chaotic, yet visually engaging because of the colours and the way the shots were taken. There was a good mix of abstract, close of shots as well as parts that allowed the viewer to see what was happening in the surroundings.

I feel like this was good for me in relation to my own project because it presented the information in a abstract, micro manner that focused on textures.

Wrapped Future by Lim Sokchanlina

I also enjoyed Wrapped Future as I feel that I can learn from this type of documentation style and presentation. I think Wrapped Future is the type of pure documentary work that creates a beautiful photograph, but at the same time keeps the style very clean and direct, presenting it to the viewer in a clear manner. Everything seems natural, in the sense that the subject matter had been photographed the way the photographer found it, and has not been altered or staged.

I also felt that the subject matter was very vibrant and carefully chosen because they all worked well together as a series.

Misfortunes of the Inanimate by Kevin Fee

I found this series very interesting as well because of the level of detail the artist gave to each photograph. The artist was likely to have been very alert to keep a lookout for his subject matter since I feel that things caught in an unfortunate situation are not easily found if one is not conscientiously looking.

I also felt that the size of the prints (about postcard sized) were just right for the work, as it was a good pairing with having 72 photographs up. The size also gave the work a more intimate kind of feeling. I think the fact that the photographer had 72 photographs contributed to making this series successful because it is one that requires many photos.

However, I am interested to know why the artist chose to photograph this series in the night/flash kind of aesthetic. 


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