Underground Artists

Was feeling down for a couple of days–teetering on the brink of a cold but managed to fight it off without actually falling in… think maintaining a (very very short) daily practice helped.

But this is where ‘believers’ don’t think anything further needs to be said & nothing will convince the rest, so…

Of course frequent swigs of fresh squeezed lemon juice-apple cider vinegar-maple syrup-cayenne pepper in hot water helped too–well, everyone else had bad sniffles & throats!

And one very cheering thing happened–I went to see the Underground Artists showcase No. 2.

Maybe I’ve been meeting the wrong young people but apart from the genius sparks coming off a couple of writers who also know how to bite down & chew on real work (okay, I’m thinking of Yisheng & Alfian, however much they may object) & the crazy-enough-to-think-theatre-matters drama people (well, to go into theatre here you have to be slightly crazy so I love you!) so many seem to have nothing more in their lives than movies (viewing, not shooting)/shopping/eating/boasting about getting drunk/earning $ to fund the previous…

(yes, yes–I know. The problem is me getting cranky in my old age)

But then I went to this Underground Artists showcase at the Furor-Space.

Of course I got incredibly lost–26A Haji Lane was the address… and 26 Haji Lane was this carpet shop with a sweet old man who was not at all my idea of an underground artist.

But he knew all about ‘exhibition’ and seemed delighted to walk me to the door in the alley way.

And upstairs–well, I don’t know enough about the different art forms to comment beyond ‘I liked it’.

Why? Because it feels like something is happening there, both on the walls & on the floors (&–if I hadn’t missed the sound artist who apparently played for 4 hours at the opening–on the airwaves!)

I kept asking the curator, Rubin, who walked me around the exhibits, “Why do you do this?” Because I really wanted to know. The best I can translate his answer is–they are the way they are, so they have to do what they do.

Being ‘underground’ they can’t advertise in the papers, can’t get a listing in IS or the What’s On page… & yet he said they got about a hundred people in for their opening!

I know there are groups out there committed to Underground Music, Underground Comic Art etc, but these kids/people are working with everything from video to sound sculpture to plaster to… a (still functioning, he said) fridge in the middle of the room.

I won’t tell you what’s on it or what’s inside it (I don’t do spoilers) but if the fridge guy does get the cultural medallion one day–I saw his work here first, in this tiny series of rooms off a street off Arab Street… & no. He won’t doesn’t need that acknowledgement to establish his standing as an ‘artist’. Why? Because it makes you, looking at it, stop, think, wonder, look again, stop again, wonder whether it is the piece or yourself that is not quite in sync… And yet in itself it exists perfectly with its statement, as it is.

And no, there’s no admission charge, they don’t try to sell you anything. They just want you to see what they are working at. It’s an exciting group.

Here are some photos in case anyone wants to look at some photos or if you can’t make it down before Friday–

I know. I sound like I’m doing an advertisement, only I can’t be, because they can’t advertise. But if they could, the artists are:

  • The Paper Donkey–(watch out for exactly where Freud’s head is resting…)
  • A.J. Yzelman–(video I have a weakness for cos I also started writing on an old clatter typewriter… but I wanna positive ending for the typewriter!!!)
  • Rubin BH–(fridge piece already mentioned)
  • Ain–(series of helmeted guys in black & white. I wasn’t sure whether to be interested/intrigued or intimidated by these pictures)
  • Todd–(the plaster works–one section in globes, one squares. kept thinking of eggs/ova hatching into tofu squares though that’s probably far from what he intended!)
  • Uan–(sound sculpture I missed)
  • Noor Ezan Khatib–(a collage juxtaposing classic western art works. Again playing with the ‘think you know this, but do you really’ part of your head)
  • Muhd Syed Hafiz–(and even more so than the previous. You stand there looking at the space)
  • Seelan Palay & Kummi (came closest to what I in my ignorance had been expecting of ‘underground art’ with the graffiti like presentation of a chaotic jumble of meticulous delineated squares)

And why are they doing this? Maybe because this stuff is too raw/unique/unclassifiable for mainstream funding. Maybe because they choose not to are are not chosen.

But whatever the reason, this format allows them to focus on the work as they play around & explore what they can do with and across mediums rather than what will prove commercially marketable or will get them good grades.

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7 Responses

  1. yes–that cyst is ‘Underskin Art’

    & what do we say to that?
    “cool”
    “this is art, meh?”
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  2. True. But sometimes it’s feels awkward that my only response to the art is, “Cool” or “This is art, meh?” Though a lot of the time it’s a skepticism.

    Today was my first day at work and I feel great. Everyone just kind of looks at me, and goes, “You came back very refreshed.” Thanks for asking.

    And I flashed the photos of my cyst at everyone who was willing to take a look. Now, that was fun. πŸ™‚

  3. yes Todd–I will come by next time there’s something on–thanks for the show & hope you don’t mind my comments!
    & hi DarkOrph, think it’s clear that I’m no expert either. but we all go to see what impact the stuff has on us–at least we do when we’re not recovering from major operations… how are you?

  4. OMG. I think I know one of the artists. But then again, lots of people with the same name these days.

    Thanks for posting this. But I have to admit, I’m not an expert on installation art.

  5. thanks for dropping by.. and thanks for the support.. do drop by again for the next few numbered exhibition(hope u gave rubin ur email, so that u’ll be informed)

  6. haha–yes… & thanks Kirsten! I like the robots too–but what I found disturbing is made me think of how many kids here (little little kids!) are playing ‘fully helmeted & armed’ sports on computers now instead of football or on playgrounds & getting bored with real life when there are no ‘magic’ escapes–that’s why the red balloons, umbrellas he put in work so well there too!

  7. Wish I could see this in person! The pictures are interesting, but some things just need to be experienced to get their full effect.

    That being said, I very much liked the playfulness of Ain’s little helmeted robots. For me it was like seeing a football player in full gear, running about on a playgound. Strange, but humorous.

    Glad you’re feeling better!

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