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5 installations to check out at SAM’s latest exhibition on modern cinema

It doesn’t take a cinephile to appreciate good art

By Amanda Chai | Nov 16, 2017

  • 5 installations to check out at SAM’s latest exhibition on modern cinema
    Maze Out, 2017 by oomleo

If you’re starting to find the current art offerings in Singapore a little stale, the Singapore Art Museum’s newest exhibition might just do the trick. From Nov 17-Mar 25, 2018, SAM at 8Q will be home to Cinerama: Art and the Moving Image in Southeast Asia, an immersive series of installations by 10 contemporary artists and art collectives from around the region.  

It may just be 10 works, but the varied curation—ranging from a 42-minute video of photocopying to a full-blown mixed media installation involving furry walls, bean bags, and a textured floor that looks like the tunnels in the Upside Down (from Stranger Things)—will ensure you’re enthralled for a full day. Here’s a preview of what you can expect.

Maze Out by oomleo (Indonesia)

We’re calling it now that Indonesian artist Narpati Awangga’s (or oomleo) exhibit will be the fan favorite of the entire exhibition. Utilizing pixel art, the work comprises a 3:45 mins video screened in a glass room, alongside a giant mural as a continuation of the GIF animation onscreen. The narrative is shaped by characters inspired by Awangga’s own friends, as well as everyday observations in Indonesian society. The best part? An interactive sticker installation in the form of the extended mural, where you can place stickers provided by the artist anywhere on the white spaces of the wall, to add your own piece of the story.

The Man Who by Victor Balanon (Philippines)

Commissioned by SAM, Balanon’s single-channel video projection combines stop-motion, time-lapse, and various other film and animation techniques, in an experimental film exploring the inter-relationships of film and cinema. Film buff or not, you’ll surely recognize the homage to the silent movie era of black-and-white films; though cinephiles will appreciate the technical references to cinema greats like Fritz Lang and David Lynch. (Stop by to spot them for yourself.)

The work, in all its solemnity and repetition, is also meant to shed light on the conditions and aspirations of nameless animators who work behind the camera in any film studio. In particular, a running man motif incorporated into the stop-motion functions as a tribute to Balanon’s past experiences as a newbie animator, where he was made to practice and perfect the inane sequence over and over again.

Zsa Zsa Zsu by Tromarama (Indonesia)

When Carrie Bradshaw first spoke about the zsa zsa zsu, she set the rest of the world off on a relentless pursuit of it—that electric connection you feel when you meet Mr/Ms Right. She clearly inspired Bandung-based music band, Rock N’ Roll Mafia, too, who released a single exactly titled that in 2007. The stop-motion animation, then, is the accompanying music video, produced by art collective Tromarama. Thousands of buttons come together in a dynamic and surely laborious work of art, for two simple but intriguing reasons—the first, that buttons are akin to pixels, identical and easy to use and replicate in animation; the second, as a tribute to the artists’ hometown of Bandung, a place known for its garment manufacturing. Don’t forget to watch with the headphones for the full zsa zsa zsu effect.

AK-47 vs. M16 by The Propeller Group (Vietnam/USA)

Artist collective The Propeller Group would like to remind you just how prevalent and normalized gun violence has become in our society today—just in case, you know, you forgot. In two separate installations, they break down and expose the aesthetics of war and violence. The first features the collision of AK-47 and M16 bullets in a ballistics gel block—a larger comment on the collision of ideologies, wherein war is reduced down to the literal impact of two bullets meeting. Fun fact: the gel blocks simulate the consistency of human flesh, which should be fun to consider when you’re watching them reverberate uncomfortably.

Part two is less visceral but no less poignant; a 41-minute film splices together scenes from war movies and news reports—but removes the protagonists, to show how the real “stars” with the most screen time are, surprise surprise, weapons.

Making Chinatown by Ming Wong (Singapore)

You’ve heard all the backlash about whitewashing and orientalist interpretations of Asian culture in Hollywood (Chow Yun Fatt welcoming us to Singapore in Pirates of the Caribbean III will probably haunt us forever). Local artist Ming Wong actively confronts that in “Making Chinatown”, a reinterpretation of Roman Polanski’s classic 1974 film Chinatown, wherein he replaces all the actors in the Neo-noir film with… himself. A full one-man-show, Wong shot himself in front of backdrops printed with stills from the film, then projected it back onto the sets, arranged in the installation to recreate the studio backlots of Hollywood—so as to emphasize the makeshift quality and artifice of cinematic production. Well, nobody said cinema was an easy game.


Cinerama: Art and the Moving Image in Southeast Asia takes place from Nov 17-Mar 25, 2018 at SAM at 8Q, 8 Queen Street. More info here

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