Print Friendly and PDF

Singapour mon amour: Singapore Electric Soul 12 June 2015 @ La Cinémathèque française.

Singapour mon amour: Singapore Electric Soul 3 July 2015 @ La Cinémathèque française

Seen from Europe, the genius of Singapore is in its formidable power of circulation: between the 64 islands of the archipelago and the rest of the world, within dense interlacing of communities and cultures, the flow of material and immaterial goods constantly grows and accelerates, articulated by a sudden historical movement, commonly summarised by the official syntagma "from mangrove to metropolis" that rendered, commensurate with urbanisation, visible layers of each step of development. Amongst the symbolic assets of the city circulate also its images. The usual representations of Singapore as a natural paradise or as a conquering city-state, a lookout for economic and architectural modernity, are yet challenged by more complex, elegant and sometimes unexpected propositions expressed by a generation of visual artists both critical and constructive. What news are these authors sending us from Singapore? What forms of description, definition, dynamics do these artists invent, eager to share various observations of their territory with the rest of the world? We searched their works for both, documentary dimensions and logics of projection on the past, the present and possible futures. 

Under a regime of censorship, crucial visual construction sites and subtle formal propositions multiply: pioneer Rajendra Gour defines the lineaments of a kinetic description of modern Singapore, visual artist Ho Tzu Nyen revisits the myths and founding legends and then creates his own. Numerous artists take charge of events or spectacular founding rituals of the modern history of the archipelago: the Independence by Kevin Foong, the national parade by Tan Pin Pin. Others address visionary visits of forgotten historical moments, secret sites, forbidden behaviours: the student riots on 13 May 1954 by Jason Soo, the forgotten or even repressed Malay heart rediscovered by Zai Kuning, Bukit Orang Salah by Jiekai Liao, homosexuality by Loo Zihan. Through the feminist films by Rajendra Gour and Sookoon Ang, the parodies and critical performances by Ming Wong, the formalist poems by Kent Chan, the reflexive diversions by Urich Lau, the investigational documentaries by Tan Pin Pin whose intensive political work requires a monographic programme, we outline the portrait of an Electric Soul (we borrow this title from Nelson Yeo) that claims the resources of a Neon Realism, based not on the capturing of appearances but the complexity of movements in exponential explosion, whose descriptive sparks by Eva Tang or Wesley Leon Aroozoo deliver us equally brilliant reflexions.

If each offers the singularity of its own perspective on Singapore, together, their images consolidate to form an additional chain of islands in the archipelago, a prismatic hub where findings and values, memories and innovations, profound schemes of ancient tales and phenomenal beauties of astonishing visual initiatives are exchanged.