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When Nothing is Something: A review of the eccentric yet intriguing contemporary art exhibition at Mizuma Gallery

Mizuma Gallery at Gillman Barracks recently presented an unconventional and very thought-provoking contemporary art exhibition entitled what it is about when it is about nothing. The exhibition primarily seeks to conceptualise the notion of nothing and nothingness – can nothing actually means something?

 

This exhibition showcases 20 works from Adeline Kueh, Ho Rui An, Homa Shojaie, Jennis Li Cheng Tien, Michael Lee, Perception3 and Robert Zhao Renhui, and is cleverly curated by guest curator, Michael Lee. Works in this exhibition were carefully selected, “as a respite from the buzz”, to tackle the burning question of what is Singapore and what’s so interesting about Singapore. Perhaps, nothing.

 

Perception 3, Terminus

Perception 3, Terminus

A work that caught my attention was Terminus by Perception3. It is a video portraying a void deck: a public space which is personal to many Singaporeans. The artist aims to capture the ubiquitous presence under each public housing block in Singapore that eventually becomes rather empty. It is indeed a very lyrical work as it manages to encapsulate the irony of life: the sense of connection as well as disconnection in our modern city life. The void deck is supposedly a place where many of us would have walked through and been at but somehow the interaction amongst people seems minimal especially in today’s time. I feel that through the work, the artist is able to inform us of the solitude and isolation that is slowly creeping into our lives albeit there being platforms and spaces to actually interact with one another.

 

I also like the fact that the work skillfully employs the intricate technique of depth, which allows you to appreciate the work from a multiple perspectives. If you view the video from a 2D plane perspective, you’ll see an empty void deck. However, if you view the video from a 3D plane perspective, you might be able to see a bottomless pit that leads to somewhere very deep. It can perhaps be understood as what our life have eventually become – an abyss of nothingness.

 

Adeline Kueh, The Distance Between My Bed and Yours

Adeline Kueh, The Distance Between My Bed and Yours

Another work that caught my attention is The Distance Between My Bed and Yours by Adeline Kueh. It is a mixed media installation that comprises of a robe made from sheet slept on for 15 years by the artist, reconfigured geta slippers and a video projection. The artist wants to examine the intricacy of our desire for closeness and connection albeit the growing obsession over the ideals of individualism in today’s world. The word vacancy somehow personifies this specific urban social issue accurately. This work fascinates me as it seems to translate a narrative about a girl who lives in contemporary times, who is conflicted between the concept of intimacy and independence. It could have actually been Adeline’s very own firsthand experience, or it might not be.

Robert Zhao Renhui, Spayed Feral Cat in its Natural Habitat

Robert Zhao Renhui, Spayed Feral Cat in its Natural Habitat

But, my favourite at the exhibition was Spayed Feral Cat in its Natural Habitat by Robert Zhao. It is an archival piezographic print of a stray cat in the woods. It is utterly captivating. The artist tackles the concept of nothingness through the topic of stray cats. While some of us find them lovely, there are also a handful of people that want to get rid of stray cats in the neighbourhood. The work exudes an air of mystery and enigma. The usage of dark colour tones also intensifies the melancholy feeling as you look and admire the work. Having a subject (the cat) in the centre, surrounded by nature, also illustrates the sense of loneliness one can feel despite being surrounded by the chaos and hectic pace of present days. It is seemingly telling you something deep and complex, but could also be otherwise. Being a cat lover myself, it is no surprise that I was quite attracted to this brilliant work of art.

Apart from these three works, other works at the exhibition are also worth checking out. Each of the works interestingly attempts to explore and define nothing, using various types of mediums from oil on canvas to lighting displays!

What it is about when it is about nothing, runs from 25 September – 25 October, at Mizuma Gallery at Gillman Barracks is a definite must-see!

 

Zakaria is an outgoing introvert who loves reading and strongly believes that the pen is mightier than the sword. From dancing to playing the clarinet to Acapella singing, he is indeed an artholic who feels that art is the window to your soul. 

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