“Primavera” – Vernissage on 16 Nov 2012

Thank you to all who came down to our Vernissage on 16 Nov 2012. The exhibition is still open until 1 Dec at Immanence (21 Av du Maine) so if you are in Paris please do come down to visit while its there!

Here are some photos from opening night.


Before the opening: Hafiz, Debbie, Valentine, and Elio!






We were honoured to receive a visit by the Singapore Ambassador to France, Tan York Chor.




A few people from National Arts Council in Singapore also flew in specially to support our show!







Some of our friends also living at the Recollets also came by!
















And thanks to George South for helping to take these excellent photos.

“Primavera” – Works by artists at the Dena Foundation Paris Residency 2012-2013

Elio Germani - Postcar (Work-in-progress) (2012)

Elio Germani – Postcar (Work-in-progress) (2012)

Hafiz Osman - Dessiner moi KOTA Paris (2012)

Hafiz Osman – Dessiner moi KOTA Paris (2012)

Debbie Ding - Extracts from A Record of Postdated Memories (2012)

Debbie Ding – Extracts from A Record of Postdated Memories (2012)

Les artistes de la Dena Foundation présentent leurs projets effectués pendant la résidence 2012-2013. Avec le soutien du National Arts Council of Singapour.

Primavera évoque bien sûr le printemps, et aussi les (re)-commencements. Qu’est-ce qu’être un artiste qui recommence ailleurs ? Comment habiter un espace où je ne fais que passer sans tomber dans la standardisation ? Comment intégrer le lieu d’accueil et créer mon propre chemin à l’intérieur d’une forêt de signes étrangers ? Comment manipuler l’iconographie pour sortir de mon propre folklore ? Comment Paris me met en mouvement ? Comment procéder à l’élagage, au transcodage, à la traduction ?

“Exposition dans le cadre de la programmation culturelle hors-les-murs à l’occasion de l’exposition Retour à l’intime, la collection Giuliana et Tommaso Setari à la Maison Rouge (réseau Tram) – 20/10/2012- 13/01/2013”

“Telepathy” / “Pedestrian Racing” (Documentation of Work, Goodman Arts Centre, Sept 2012)

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I just recalled that on the eve of my departure from Singapore I had spent some time scurrying around the Goodman Arts Centre applying some vinyls to the ground in anticipation of this year’s Goodman Arts Centre Open House. Although I was not in Singapore at the time to see people’s responses or interactions with it, I hope that someone out there actually saw it.

Here are two psychogeographical games presented by the Singapore Psychogeographical Society + Studio Thirteen at the GAC Open House 2012 – “Telepathy” and “Pedestrian Racing” – located at the 3rd, 4rd, and 5th floors of Block B, based on the fact that the upper floors of Block B offer a kind of panopticonic view of the entire compound and everyone walking in…:



Pedestrian Racing



If attempting the foolhardy task of applying many vinyl text to the ground by oneself, do check at the printer if they have missed out any dots or the letter i. Next, clean the ground with a rag rather than pouring a bucket onto it or it will TAKE HOURS TO DRY. These were things I wish I knew before I had to cut out my own dots for letters, and before I gaily tossed a bucket of water on the ground and had to wait a few hours for it to dry – hours which I could scarcely afford on what was literally the eve of my departure. In the end, I ran out of time and part of the installation had to be completed with the help of Kent Chan! Thanks so much Kent!



Postdated Paris (Work-in-progress) / “Primavera”, Immanence, 16 Nov 2012


I am currently working on a project to document all the dates that I find on roads in Paris, and to match them with a story.

It began with the image of 05/09/12 that I found on the 05/09/12 itself while walking to the Louvre. I arrived in Paris on 03/09/12 and it was the third day that I was in Paris, and there was a new pavement being made. It was perfectly black and shiny and the heat was still coming off it. It looked like a sign, like it had just appeared so that I could find it!


Subsequently, for the last two months I have been walking around in Paris on foot collecting dates and also asking people if they can remember what they were doing on one of these dates. I ask people to write me a description of the day as if they were writing me a postcard from that date. The dates were assigned at random from the pool of dates that I have collected. The most magical part is probably seeing people’s reaction to being asked to recall a date very far back in their past. As of today, 5 November 2012, I have collected and processed 201 unique dates and 79 stories.

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Random sample of road dates in Paris
I find that the spaces in cities are experienced in trajectories rather than in zones and their boundaries. I have been walking a certain path from the Gare de l’Est to the Porte Saint Martin, and then to the Boulevard de Sebastopol until I reach the River Seine, and into the Ile-de-France, and then onwards to the Latin Quarter. Sometimes I take the 38 bus up and down. I have repeated this so many times that the entire path has become familiar. After becoming familiar with that path, I started exploring other paths. Along the way, one frequently encounters dates on the pavement, like chronological monuments physically etched into the city, embedding the markers of time and dates into the fabric of the city. All the photos I take are geotagged so that later, I can map out the positions of these dates, forming the outline of my trajectory through Paris. By looking at the markers on the map, I can recall what I was doing on that particular day.

A friend who was a writer told me that he “stored” his memories in the books that he was writing, because by doing so he would not have to carry them with him all the time; he reasoned that if their stories were written into his books, then he could always go to the shelves of someone else who might have a copy of his book, and he would always be able to find them back.

I wonder if more stories can be stored inside these dates in the streets. For me, the geotagged pictures of dates on the roads are the markers of my own trajectory and journey as I travel through the streets of Paris. I wonder about the trajectories and the journeys of others. By fitting stories to dates in the roads in Paris, I want to make monuments of these dates that have been marked into the roads. Mundane, serious, vague, or foggy, I collect them all. The journey is a process, and the process is in the journey.

I am working towards a presentation of this work in a group exhibition on 16/11/12 at Immanence, at 21 Avenue du Maine. If you are in Paris, please come to see the show!

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Les artistes de la Dena Foundation présentent leurs projets effectués pendant la résidence 2012-2013. Avec le soutien du National Arts Council of Singapour.

Primavera évoque bien sûr le printemps, et aussi les (re)-commencements. Qu’est-ce qu’être un artiste qui recommence ailleurs ? Comment habiter un espace où je ne fais que passer sans tomber dans la standardisation ? Comment intégrer le lieu d’accueil et créer mon propre chemin à l’intérieur d’une forêt de signes étrangers ? Comment manipuler l’iconographie pour sortir de mon propre folklore ? Comment Paris me met en mouvement ? Comment procéder à l’élagage, au transcodage, à la traduction ?

Exposition dans le cadre de la programmation culturelle hors-les-murs à l’occasion de l’exposition La collection Giuliana et Tommaso Setari, retour à l’intime. à la Maison Rouge (réseau Tram) – 20/10/2012- 13/01/2013

The artists of the Dena Foundation 2012-2013 Residency Program present their ongoing projects.
With the support of the National Arts Council of Singapour
Curator : Valentine Meyer
Artists : Santo Alessandro Badolato (Italie), Debbie Ding (Singapour), Matteo Fato (Italie), Elio Germani (Italie), Hafiz B Osman (Singapour)

Du 16 novembre au 1 décembre 2012
vernissage le 16 novembre 2012 à partir de 18h
21 Avenue du Maine / fond de cour
75015 Paris

Literature and Luxury in Saint-Germain

Mysterious white car along Saint Germain
Yesterday we were in Saint-Germain, and I realised that I have been blindly going to Saint-Germain for some time but not really connecting the dots of its actual historical significance – until now! Now! Now I have figured it out!

I have been frequenting a cinema near the Rue de Ecoles by taking the Bus 38 from the Gare de l’est down to the Saint Germain area, and using the “ruins” as a landmark to tell myself when to get off the bus. But I finally found out that they aren’t just any random “ruins”, its technically the Abbey of the Saint Germain-des-Pres, from which the area of Saint-Germain actually takes its name. For those easily confused by the geography of Paris, its next to the Latin Quarter (to the east) and very close to the Luxeumbourg gardens and the Eiffel Tower (to the west).

As Valentine (the directrice of our residency programme) explained to us, some areas in Paris are just plain old “fashionable chic”, but this is an area that separates itself by trying to characterise itself as “intellectual chic”.

Saint-Germain is famous for being the home of many publishers and one could probably say the thing that makes the area something special are the prestigious ecoles (universities such as Beaux Art and Science-Po), the libraries (publishers and bookstores), and the cafes which are touted as being the discussion spots of “intellectuals”, writers, thinkers, and politicians.

One such cafe that is famed for its intellectual clientele is Cafe de Flore. If you go there, you apparently have to go to the 1st floor.

Cafe de Flore
Right next to the Cafe Flore is a peculiar salon that I found out was once the site of La Hune, a historic and notable bookstore in the area. This shop is now apparently newly owned by Louis Vuitton, and is currently occupied by a very strange exhibition titled “L’Ecriture est un Voyage” (“Writing is a Journey”), featuring an exhibition of books on traveling, and apparently hosting a series of literary talks and conversations.


If you walked in you would be forgiven for having mistaken it for a bookstore. But it is not a bookstore, you cannot buy the books at the exhibition, but you can buy the books at La Hune, which people will be glad to find has NOT been erased from the map by Louis Vuitton, but has moved a block down to the other side of the abbey, apparently assisted by Louis Vuitton.



It is a truly confusing space at the moment. The text on the wall says:

“Louis Vuitton welcomes you for a passing cultural stopover: “Writing is a Journey”. Right at the heart of Saint Germain, a district whose soul was constantly nourished by the legendary writers who frequented it, “Writing is a journey” invites us on an original sculptural stroll, on a unique and intimate journey to the heart of writing through unusual libraries and iconic works of art…”

Naturally, my first thought on seeing this bizarre LV-hosted literature exhibition was, how could the rest of the bookstores survive and pay the rents in an area full of high-end luxury retailers, teeming with the likes of Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton and all the high-end luxury fashion, furnishings, handbags, chocolatiers, and pastries? How could the mere sales and publication of books make enough money for the booksellers and publishers to stay in this ridiculously expensive area? The image of the writer as a pauper or starving artist is something that I have never in my life seen dispelled as a fantasy (but instead, sadly reaffirmed as the unfortunate state that many writers remain in); I still think of literature as one of the purest forms of expression and I wonder why there isn’t a literary-world equivalent of the luxury fine art auction market that has developed today and in which millions of dollars exchange hands for.

If you replace all the bookstores with high-end retailers who attract a clientele which is only defined by spending power (i.e.: the massive sizes of their disposable income), then the writers and thinkers aren’t necessarily going to be amongst them – and then what would be the point of Saint-Germain trying to be an area that sells itself as an cultural attraction on basis of intellectual and literary significance? If so, then Louis Vuitton’s literary themed exhibition would be read as nothing more than a cultural hijacking; an attempt to soften the blow of LV’s invasion and occupation of the site of the former La Hune and to ride on the coat-tails of its literary legacy.

But surely I cannot be the only one to speculate as such based on the superficial details, especially since I am merely a passer-by in this area. Unfortunately, english language information on the state of affairs in the area is moderately scarce, but an interesting article in Le Parisien does shed a little more light on La Hune, which it says was pushed out by high rent, despite apparently already receiving some form of government assistance to run (I could not find more details on this in English unfortunately). Clearly sentiments run high on the issue; there is a quote from Jean-Pierre Lecoq, the mayor of the 6th arrondissement saying: “Je me serais couché sur le boulevard pour empêcher la fermeture de la Hune!” (I’d be lying on the street to prevent the closure of the Hune!), also echoed by others saying that bookstores should be the winner in this, not the commercial luxury shops. It is not by mere coincidence that a few of the bookstores survived the ravages of commercialism in an area where the rent is naturally sky high.

At the same time, the non-bookstore exhibition of books is also the precise expression of luxury. For them to dedicate the entire retail space to something entirely uncommercial (and probably confusing for most visitors) is daring, and intriguing to me. I did enjoy going through the exhibition and trying to make sense of it. But I wonder, is it anything more than a polite gesture, or opportunism, or how much thought did they really put into it? I do not know. When it goes back to being a retail/fashion shop after the end of the exhibition in December, what will it look like? What will it be replaced by? Will it be horrible? Or will everything simply blend into a big sea of mundanity, with nary more than a murmur of confusion over the shop relocation of La Hune?

I wonder why books and writing aren’t usually marketed as something that sells, that people are dying to read and have, I mean isn’t it inherently interesting? And imagine how much learning and experience a person has to accrue in order to be a great writer! It’s a life’s work! Why don’t we have little shops at which people will help you write your letters or your diary or memoirs, like in the old french movies, where people could go to a shop and have someone write a love letter on their behalf so they could impress somebody? How did those shops die out anyway? I mean, I would pay for that. I would pay for someone to write me stories. Stories only for me. Rephrase the story and rewrite your history. Now that would be a luxury.

The new site of La Hune around the corner


La Hune


One day I hope to read the books on this shelf in the original French.

A Mini Tour-de-Paris for a Pot of Lavender


We were walking around the Ile de France yesterday when we stumbled across a row of plant shops and I decided to buy a lavender plant for 4€. Unfortunately we were nowhere near the end of the day, so I had to carry the pot of lavender everywhere with me.

Here proceeds a photographic tour of the day out with said plant, which I have now dubbed “Georges” (for this is a suitably french name).

Georges walks along the River Seine.


Georges crosses the road.


Georges sits on a bridge that connects the Ile-de-France to the rest of Paris.


Georges looks at a row of bells at the BHV on Rue de Rivoli, a DIY mega-store of epic proportions, which I intend to visit again soon.


Georges sees on the TV a news report that Hurricane Sandy has hit. Everyone went silent for a second to watch the news.


Georges at the pub (a place which is a favorite of mine, which we have been frequenting on the Rue des Coutures Saint-Gervais)


Georges on the Metro.


Georges back home at the Gare de L’est
It could have been more epic but my left arm was getting tired…

FIAC 2012 (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain)


We were very fortunate to have gotten a VIP pass for this year’s FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain) last week. It being the biggest art fair we could attend on this residency trip, we dutifully found ourselves systematically going through each and every single corridor, floor, gallery, event space, jardin… etc.

I wanted to write a summary of FIAC 2012 and I originally approached our visit with the same fastidiousness of previous gallery visits (taking notes and recording gallerist name/artist/work title). But there were probably around 200 galleries from all around the world, each showing a few dozen works on the walls and in their spaces and in their catalogues. Every wall was covered in works. Sometimes it was not even clear which gallery had filled the excess (and less strategic) walls which were formed around the pillars. Every corner was filled. Even by the most modest reckoning, this would potentially amount to TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ARTWORKS in the Grand Palais. After the first two hours there, we were crawling through its beautifully carpeted hallways, reduced to a kind of art-fatigue-meets-hunger-and-delirium, and all that I could articulate was a thin, strangled gasp of “help… does it… ever… end???”

So here is a photographic survey of this year’s FIAC instead:

GRAND PALAIS – Ground Floor

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GRAND PALAIS – 1st Floor

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So that was FIAC 2012 at the Grand Palais.

We’re fried.
Our toast is burnt.
The cow is cooked.
The end is nigh.


I want to write about the Prix Duchamp nominations too and there was also the works in the Jardins. etc…….. BUT THIS IS INFORMATION OVERLOAD ALREADY. TO BE CONTINUED LATER………

F0001 – A Game: Finding Chair F0001 at the Jardin de Tuileries




There are three different types of chairs in the Jardin de Tulleries – Type B (upright with arms), Type C (upright without arms) and Type F (tilted inclined). These chairs seem to move in the night. You can see their sneaky little track marks in the ground. They are all over the place, behind bushes, next to the fountain, on slopes, under trees, next to the jeu de paume – they are everywhere in the gardens where you least expect them! They are also surprisingly well-loved and well-kept. Very few have graffiti marks or damage to them, which is a remarkable thing in Paris. Because the chairs are constantly moving, or being moved by people, it makes it a challenge to find the exact same chair on another visit to the gardens. Hence we propose this game:



This is a game for any number of players of any ages.


Assemble at the Jardin de Tulleries at the start of the day.

All chairs in the gardens have a unique number cut into them.

The first person to find the chair F 0001 wins!


We tried our best but we only found F 0002.
Do you know where is chair F 0001?

***BONUS ROUND!!!***

Find chairs with abnormalities. Such as upside down numbers.