Captivating might be a suitable word to describe the latest exhibition from ARCOLABS At Edwin’s Gallery. Titled “ City, Remembrance and Reimagining “,the ASEAN-ROK Contemporary Art Exhibition is said to be providing a cultural sphere among the citizens of ASEAN and Korea which needed a bigger and deeper understanding of each other’s enriched culture. As we contemplate whether the diversity between countries in Southeast Asia is an asset or liability, Jeong-ok Jeon and Evelyn Huang; as curators for this exhibition have molded a premise of which built one of many versions that could answer the question, changes have brutally and eloquently upgraded a country to a new state. Or, we can say downgrade, by the uncountable rules that have been broken in order to make a living place for all levels of citizens.
This exhibition curated some of ASEAN’s aspirational artists – Song Sung Jin, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Surapong Sudasna Na Ayudhya, Eric De Leon Zamuco, Sokchanlina Lim, Michael Lee, Ain Lim, Phuan Thai Meng, Bounpaul Phothyzan, Thu Myat, UuDam Tran Nguyen – who took modernization upon heavy cultures, local traditions and belief systems among others. Three themes were made to categorize the issues, “Urban Structure & Megalopolis” where rapid organization and whatnots became challenges in Southeast Asia, then “History & Cultural Space”, of course talks about the revitalization of public space to the heavy rotation over cultural-related issues. The third theme “City & Human” contains bittersweet storytelling between city, human and art. Equally strong, all themes delivered sexy stimulants for citizens to act instead being cows, waiting to be fed and demanding for something rhetorical.
With convivial settings, all artists came up with artistic actions in order making a new point of view to ASEAN’s megapolitans. The hub, or should we say melting pot, is usually forced to have new forms as every second there’s a new idea in labor. When it happens on everyone, try to sum that up and think how to gather, map and decode urban thoughts often time-consuming while there’s no time left. Having that in mind, all artworks invite people to revisit issues around cultural heritage and replay mementos of the ‘ol good times before the impulse to preserve the cities they live in is stimulated.
It took us long enough to analyze each artwork. But we found it very indescribable yet thoughtful at the same time. One of the showstoppers is UuDam Tran Nguyen (Vietnam) who took the scooters phenomenon in Saigon or if you can relate, the motorcycles wave in Jakarta. Nguyen put the phenomenon aligned with the story of Saint Gióng, a Vietnamese folk hero who fought invaders with iron armor and iron rod. Nowadays, Nguyen sees scooters as urban iron horses for its riders have hard-hitting road to be conquered over pollution, toxic water and even food in Vietnam. What makes it head-tilting? Nguyen brought the idea onto video and photography containing alternative views of what we have in mind if we heard the word scooter. Using color-coded plastic ponchos and strong motions, Nguyen’s piece shares the irony of the people’s life who live in big cities in mind-altering world.
Showcasing varied interpretations, this exhibition needs longer period though for intricate and multi-layered meaning all over the place begging to be discussed over drinks.
Exhibition period: October 28th–November 8th2015
Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5.30 pm
Sunday, 12 am – 5.30 pm
Closed on Public Holidays
Jl. Kemang Raya No. 21, Kemang
P: (021) 7194721, 71790049
F: (021) 71790278
Word and photos by FA