Exhibition opening: By All Estimates
SYDNEY. THURSDAY 11 APR 2019. 6.00 – 8.00PM
Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Chair of the Board of 4A, and
Mikala Tai, Director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
invite you to join us at the opening of:
By All Estimates
Exhibition opening: 6.00-8.00PM, Thursday 11 April
Artists: Jessica Bradford, Erika Tan + more to be announced.
Taking Singapore as a locus of multiple regional identities, By All Estimates brings together works by artists that give form to narratives obscured by the city-state’s rapid urban and social development and the coexistence of competing projections of cultural inheritance and recognition. Over the past decade especially, Singapore’s investment in cultural institutions has been seen as an attempt to position the nation as a beacon of cultural capital in Southeast Asia. Underpinning this expansion lies an ever evolving matrix of received and contested narratives that within certain contemporary public realms—from the streets of the city to the corridors of the museum—jostle, overlap or otherwise mingle in approximations of the influence of multiple ethnic representations and economic imperatives. This exhibition presents works by Singapore-born Sydney-based artist Jessica Bradford alongside Singaporean London-based artist Erika Tan, among others.
Jessica Bradford’s ongoing historical and present-day research around Singapore’s Haw Par Villa underpins her most recent body of work spanning painting, ceramics, video and installation. Formerly known as Tiger Balm Garden, Haw Par Villa’s website describes the site as ‘an 8.5-hectare Asian cultural park, the last of its kind in the world … The eclectic park is a treasure trove of Asian culture, history, philosophy and religion—quirky yet enlightening, at the same time.’ Established in 1937 by Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the developers of the famous Tiger Balm medicinal ointment, the park has was intended as a both an educational and entertaining experience that offered hundreds of statues and giant dioramas based on Chinese folk history, mythology and morality. In the 1980s, a period coinciding with Bradford’s early memories of visiting with her family as a child, the park was acquired by the Singaporean Government during a period of concentrated governmental debate around national identity marked by a renewed focus on ‘Asian values’. Over the years, sculptures have been added or removed, modified or relocated by various involved parties, often altering the intended symbolism or meaning of the statues, dioramas and the park itself. In her work, Bradford seeks to simultaneously excavate and further obfuscate Haw Par Villa’s layered representations of the intertwined projections of cultural and national identities and the forms they take within changing regional and global ideological and economic contexts alongside competing ideas around tradition and its processes of inheritance.
Erika Tan’s Repatriating The Object With No Shadow: Along, Against, Within and Through (2013–14) takes the structure of an A to Z (a ‘gesture’ towards the encyclopaedic or comprehensive), to approach a glossary of terms, events, artefacts and personal accounts which connect us to the historical through the specifics and the context of the colonial museum in Malaya. Beginning with ‘A is for adventure, advantage and advocate’, Tan’s video work employs archival anthropological films of indigenous tribes of the Malay peninsula, tracking shots of museum displays, animations of collection objects backed by green screens, and a voiceover narration that hovers between pedagogical lecture and fictional fable, among other audio-visual material, to create a mesmeric filmic montage that challenges past paradigms of ethnographic commission and omission, inclusion and exclusion, with broader contemporary resonances and implications.