Reflection on art show ‘regeneration-ways of being’

Several stages took place in the process of organising the background for this art project.

1. Art project brief
2. Mind Map

This is the art project brief which I wrote to start the process rolling. It was primarily located within the field of labour and aesthetics. As it is a sculptural show, the artist and the art work become the important site(environmental space) for investigating the theme, known as ‘Regeneration’.

It has since become particularly interesting to me that industry 4.0 has since complicated the ‘production of art works’. We shall see this appearance mentioned in Yang Jie’s writing in the zine1 on humane technology and Joey.SPL writing on the ‘making’ which links biology process such as neurology, movement and psychology supplementing the broader implications involving machines of our times. Timothy Soh has also written about the contrast of permanence of solid objects and intangible NFTs in general sense.

1. Art project brief:
Title: Regeneration – Ways of Being

How do artists and their practices support regenerative or restorative possibilities towards people, environment, and the things of everyday life. Regeneration refers to environmental consciousness. It is also about how we become concerned and engaged with the world. The durability of the art object and the toil of the artists. The artist liberates earthy materials from the position of rapid consumption to one of durability, stability, and reflection. Could it move towards a far-sighted approach to world connectedness?

1.;rgn=main, Reflecting the Pacific, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Welsch
2. Doing aesthetics with Arendt, how to see things.

2. Mind Map

Regeneration is about – never concluding.

I think in this exhibition, we asked questions more then answer them. The premise by which the questions propose is not in binaries, rather the possibilities in which artists employed their art making materials, tools and ideas to expand on the conversation. It is an active process. Every artists are interested in different areas within their art practices.2 So we see the diversity of subject matters which engages with these questions that addresses experiences different artist encounters and takes an interest in. The subject matters can be roughly broken down into 3 areas, art making process, materials and spaces. The sculptures bear the marks of the artists, the maintenance in the form of handmade objects possessing a sense of time passing, a romantic version of labour. Sometimes, the marks are passed on from traditions as seen in Shayne Phua’s works.

Kendi Kundika(detail view)
Shayne Phua
Shayne used design from vintage pastries moulds and pressed her ceramics clay into them to build her ceramics art pieces. Shayne likes to go to the museum and she takes an interests in old objects. Shayne directs us to have the best of both worlds, the old merging with the new in the appreciation of craftsmanships or in her case, craft’woman’ships.

The ideas are really secondary focus for this exhibition because possibilities are open ended, developments expand beyond the art project and the ideas are not stagnant or immortalise in this art show. There is no objective image of this collective show to move towards to, in other words these contributions by the body of works attempts to collectively find their place in this world to connect to ourselves and the audience. We think and create with art to make possible the collective images which is a flux of constant navigation from individuals to individuals. Reinventing (Material resistance -resist the final form in an end, the conclusion) with everyday or traditional materials to create anew forms, structures, imaginations, fictions, sensations. It contributes to a horizon of appearances and speaks and gets re-spoken by others. 

The question of restoration need not necessary be a return to the past. Its appearances transform and perhaps its not a question of time. Materials deteriorate over time. Appearances reappear through transformation. The emphasis of using the prefix ‘Re’ necessitates an acknowledgement of a ‘past’. The ‘past’ locatlity can be hinted from the materials that artists uses to create their artworks. Such as Syamil Dasuki, Yang Jie and myself. Restoring can be an act of confidence or rejection in old objects and inventiveness in prolonging the lifespan of the old objects through disintegration and reintegration or reconfigurations. To speak of the new object from the old, we have to start from the stories of the old objects. We learn to live with them and acknowledge their presence. 

Not cups and a Flat plate(detail view)
Syamil Dasuki
Using kintsugi method to mend broken ceramics

Yang Jie
Repaired ceramics and interactive sculpture

Unstate 06 Series
Ong Xiao Yun
Paper marche sculpture using recycled paper

In the art works, we will find that weight has an important role in Mahyuddin Chan and Joey.SPL ’s art works. The materials used in the art works gives the sense of lightness and heaviness. I have used a table format to illustrate this. 

Mahyuddin ChanCottonLightSpirituality




Table illustration of ‘weight’ in artists art works

For example in Mahyuddin Chan’s interactive art work, the expression of lightness is found in the material of cotton. Further enhancing the ‘act’ of connection to light, the audience are required to embrace the cotton cloud to activate the light which brighten the soft sculpture. In Joey’s art work, there is the idea of ascension and acclimation. The nature is found in the urban. Both Mahyuddin Chan and Joey.SPL motif of cycles are mimic of the circulation of the cosmology.

Mahyuddin Chan
Cotton cloud, soft sculpture with interactive elements

The Hermit & The Mountain
Dome shaped cement sculptures with light, crystals and gravels

In the second part of reflection, let’s focus our attention to the labouring process for the sculptures. The labouring process for myself would qualify if the art work is repetitive actions and a product is produce, vis a vis, the sculpture in this case. This is also the production of the meaning, being the owner of the meaning and reproduce or coproduce the meaning with the material in actions.

Let’s take for example in Cynthia Foong knitting art pieces. We could use action and intelligence related words to describe her craft pieces, such as methodological, routine, dedicated, concentration, reflective, meditative. In her artist talk, Cynthia discuss her laborious process by counting her stitches and engages the audience with a quiz on the number of stitches she used. There is a connection to the larger part of the world which is the ocean and its expressed as a form of love and protection for the health of the ocean.

Enchanting Predators
Cynthia Foong
The sea anemones are predatory marine animals.  Some breed by breaking themselves into smaller pieces to regenerate into smaller anemones. Their vibrant colours result from the pigments of an algae in them.

Resources to find out more about the exhibition
1. Youtube archive of artist talks
2. Regeneration Zine1 which features exhibiting artists process and their elaborations of their art practice. Feature additional artists quotes on ‘making’.

2 Whether art process produce the ideas or the ideas produce and reinvent the processes

1.;rgn=main, Reflecting the Pacific, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Welsch
2. Doing aesthetics with Arendt, how to see things.
3. Sparling, Robert. “Theory and Praxis: Simone Weil and Marx on the Dignity of Labor.” The Review of Politics 74, no. 1 (2012): 87–107.
4. Sayers, Sean. “The Concept of Labor: Marx and His Critics.” Science & Society 71, no. 4 (2007): 431–54.
5. Surfing the Third Wave, Alvin And Heidi Toffler, On Life And Work In The Information Age By Mary Eisenhart,