SAM’s collection focuses on contemporary Southeast Asian art, while also encompassing the wider Asian region, such as China, India, Korea and Japan, to provide a broader cultural context for the core collection. Reflecting the character of contemporary art, works represented in SAM’s permanent collection span a broad spectrum of media and sensibilities, ranging from installation to video, to photography, painting, sculpture, and others. Through a robust cycle of acquisition, the SAM collection now features numerous iconic works of contemporary Southeast Asian art.
Trace connections in our collection through interpretive frameworks. Dossiers are open containers that present a set of stories about certain exhibitions, artist features, or themes together.
As advanced technologies lead to decentralisation and shifts in how the public participates and accesses art, what is the role of the art museum and how might it look at collecting, curating and exhibiting art during present times? Wikicliki: Collecting Habits on an Earth Filled with Smartphones was a presentation by Singapore Art Museum of recent acquisitions by Heman Chong and Charles Lim Yi Yong, alongside works by Debbie Ding, Chua Chye Teck, Amanda Heng and bani haykal. The exhibition sought to construct an ecology for exploring how artists are radically reworking formats and how contemporary art institutions can act in relation to these burgeoning concerns. The exhibition was titled after the constantly evolving work, http://dbbd.sg/wiki, by artist Debbie Ding. Maintained since 2008, Ding’s work traces emerging issues around society’s use of the internet, technology, design, architecture, linguistics and varied cultural topics.
Presented in 2021 at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Gallery of the National Gallery Singapore, the exhibition was devised by a curatorium composed of six artist-curator pairings. Based on wide-ranging conversations each of the curators had maintained with the artists, the exhibition carefully adapted artworks for Wikicliki that seemingly adopted new modes of presentation in relation to the traditional infrastructure of the white cube. While the individual artworks had been presented in other spaces and contexts, this iteration emphasised how each of the artists challenged taken-for-granted museum conventions – from the dematerialisation of the artwork such that it was merely an uttered statement that varied from performer to performer, to encouraging the public to put forward their reactions to an encounter with an image – which would, in turn, shift the manner in which the work could be perceived and read.
Overall, the six artists exemplified a new development in contemporary art referred to as the “aggregate,” a qualitative approach to collecting, organising and interpreting the frenzied array of images and data that increasingly govern our everyday lives. Their works activate anachronisms, fictions, improvisations and sympathies that articulate the predicaments of our current times. As the audience for art shifts its attention from the gallery space to the smartphone, these six artists stand at the centre of these new technologies of image circulation, highlighting the multi-faceted experience of Singapore’s industrial present and technological future.
As the exhibition and its associated programmes unfolded, a realisation emerged that art museums continue to shape the logic behind artworks. As a highlight of this ongoing debate, the dialogues registered in this dossier are a result of Wikicliki’s extensive programmes. Here, the curatorium reflects primarily on modes of working through focussed examinations of selected artworks that range across multiple fields: from human-machine intimacies and strategies for data collection, to post-apocalyptic game worlds in an age of digital information proliferation.
Click on the thumbnails below to find out more.
Electric Intimacies with bani haykal
'Wikicliki', In Conversation with Debbi Ding
Data Entries with Heman Chong