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Sub-Monument

What is an arts centre and how does it work? How do artists visualise its workings? I imagine it as a big piece of absurdist hardware - mystically attracting the energies of artist-programmers who keep this signal processor running as it amplifies or removes specific features to generate various artistic manifestations.



Debbie Ding Sub-Monument, 2019. As part of Bachelorette Machines at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College, until 5 May 2019. Photo: Wong Jing Wei

The diversity of my own artistic practice over the years is mirrored in the diversity of activities that goes on in one of Singapore's most beloved art spaces, The Substation. "A Home for the Arts" that has nurtured everything from visual art, theatre, dance, performance art, music, literature, collaborations, residencies, conferences, forums, dialogue sessions, etc.

The artworkers within are usually referred to as "arts programmers", and very often they too are hybrids artist-practitioners taking on this kind of art work. However, therein lies a contradictory tension between balancing one's practice and one's art working for the greater good of the artistic community.

Laser cutting

Assembly
I wanted to make a mysterious diagram, depicting an arts centre as a kind of haunted machine, or diabolical signal processing hardware; a machine into which all the ideas and intentions of the artists and arts programmers and artistic director trickled into... or maybe not so gently. Maybe the energies of all these artists and programmers and art workers were being uncontrollably sucked up into, brutally chewed up, and then this big machine spat it all out as art, scattering it randomly into the sky, broadcasting it far and wide, without total control on how it rained down or haphazardly drizzled upon the audiences.


What keeps the arts centre runnning? What kept the artists going? Where did they come from? How was it that there were always new generations of artists and programmers returning to feed it and keep it going? Was it simply the insatiable hunger of the arts machine demanding to be fed more fodder? And as time wore on, I want you to imagine the frightful sounds of the wear and tear on the various essential parts of this strange hardware: the groaning from the repetitive motion of gears, and the creaks from all the pressures of delivering this non-stop service, the echoes of lost voices within this highly emotional social space...

Exhibition guide

Exhibition view, Praxis Gallery
Exhibited at Bachelorette Machines, ICAS. 5 April 2019 - 5 May 2019.
Curated by Caterina Riva, Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore, Lasalle.
Read more: Documentation of Process