Vote for Your Fave Regional Signature Artwork @SAM!

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Ever read about a “Best Artwork” award winner and immediately exclaimed to yourself, “Like that also can win?” Well, here’s your chance to push your artistic opinion forward on what you constitute as good art. The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is currently hosting The Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Finalists Exhibition featuring 15 contemporary works from regional countries including Australia, China, India, Thailand and Singapore. In addition to a $60,000 Grand Prize and two Jurors’ Choice Awards, there will also be a People’s Choice Award where the public can cast their votes for what they think is the best artwork. The artist who gets the most votes wins $10,000. And truth be told: most of the finalist artworks – ranging from room-size sculptures to multi-channel video installations – are really worth voting for…

Though the works can be viewed at a dedicated micro-site and their individual Facebook pages, I highly recommend that you pop down to SAM and viewed them as they are presented. Kudos to SAM curator Sam I-shan who installed the works in unique site-specific spaces in the museum – including the walls of a staircase! – such that each work is duly given the right ambience, bringing out the best of its qualities.

Thanks to the media preview that Musings on the M49 was invited to, here are my faves:

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1. Golden Eyedrop (Arin Rungjang, Thailand)
You have to see this sculpture “in the flesh” as pictures don’t do it justice. Made up of 11,000 – count em! – bronze balls suspended symmetically to form the, er, eyedrop, the work alludes to a traditional Portuguese egg-yolk dessert introduced to the 17th century Siamese court by a Portuguese-Bengali-Japanese woman. Installation artist Arin said he and his team took two days to set this up. We reckoned he meant two days of 24 solid hours each! Accompanied by a 30-minute documentary video which tells of the making of the Golden Teardrop. Really awesome (the sculpture, ie).
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2. House of Opaque Water (Ranbir Kaleka, India)
This three-screen video installation tells the haunting story of a man who lost his home and entire island to the river waters that provide for his and fellow villagers’ livelihood and daily subsistence. Sited in a dark room with reflective flooring, the enlarged imagery of the documentary – which primarily shows people living off the river and accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack – offers observers the feeling that  they are sitting “by the banks” as they watch the villagers’ tragic stories unfold. Effective, like.
L10901583. Trace (Liu Jianhua, China)
When we first saw these “stain marks” as we walked up the staircase to the second floor, we thought it was cool that SAM even had their staircase decorated in art. When we learnt that it was part of the Finalists exhibition, this sculptural installation significantly became even more cool! Especially when we learnt that the artist wanted it to look – and which it does – “water stains on the wall”. Made of porcelain and great use of site space, thumbs up for originality!
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4. Custos Cavum (Guardian of the Hole) (Choe U-Ram, South Korea)
According to the notes,  artist Choe loves to “create intricate kinetic sculptures out of metal, motors and machinery and giving them Latin titles as if they were a new species”. Well, I simply love this ‘cos it looks like an alien creature from a sci-fi movie. (Which I’m pretty sure that’s where he gets his inspiration from!) It has a little well-lit, black-curtained gallery to itself but upon approaching it, those long stems of gold leaves will be gently gesturing to you from the metal eel-like body lying on the ground which itself seem to have a life of its own…

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5. In Pursuit of Venus (Lisa Reihana, New Zealand)
Simply put, this 2-channel HD video on continuous loop (right to left) is a live action-cum-animation montage of a 20-panel panoramic wallpaper created in 1804 that depicted people and places encountered by Captain Cook in the Pacific Islands. It is literally seeing exotic wallpaper come to life complete with real-life actors performing dances, rituals and daily activities native to Moari and Pacific life in the 1800s amidst painted scenic backdrops as seen in the classic wallpaper. Ingenious.
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6. I’m A Ghost in My Own House (Melati Suryodarmo, Indonesia)
This is represented by a 12-hour video showing performance artist Melati grinding and crushing pieces of charcoal into dust.  The idea is that charcoal is commonly used in South-east Asia; it is life-sustaining offering heat and fire, yet it can also burn and destroy. As people go through the motions in life, soon they will realised that time has gone by very quickly indeed. This gets a special mention as Melati will be performing this live on Jan 21, 2015 from 9am to 9pm at this balcony set-up (above). Go and support her if you can!


How to Vote:
Public can cast their votes at the Museum itself or via http://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg/signatureartprize from now till Jan 21, 2015. All you need is to log in with a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Weibo account. Voters stand to win prizes such as an iPad Air 2 and exclusive SAM merchandise.

The APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014 Finalists Exhibition runs till Mar 15, 2015, with the Prize winners to be announced on Jan 22, 2015 during Singapore Art Week.


Photos Credit: Marguerita Tan Photography. No text or photos to be used without permission from the blog author.

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