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Can a museum engage artists in a discussion about what it means to collect?

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Can a museum engage artists in a discussion about what it means to collect? Taking the cue from artists’ changing modes of creating and presenting work, SAM presents its latest exhibition Wikicliki: Collecting Habits on an Earth Filled with Smartphones to explore key strategies needed in the collection of contemporary art today. The exhibition opens from 22 April to 11 July 2021 at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery, National Gallery Singapore, one of SAM’s satellite gallery spaces this year, as its buildings undergo redevelopment.

Wikicliki features six artists whose modes of working provide unique insights into a range of issues confronting contemporary practitioners in Singapore today. It is presented via six artist-curator pairings — Heman Chong with Selene Yap, Chua Chye Teck with Cheng Jia Yun, Debbie Ding with Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, bani haykal with Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol, Amanda Heng with Teng Yen Hui and Charles Lim Yi Yong with Kenneth Tay.

The Exhibition Title

The exhibition borrows its title from http://dbbd.sg/wiki, the constantly evolving work by artist Debbie Ding, which traces emerging issues around society’s use of the internet, technology, design, architecture, linguistics and varied cultural topics. By referencing Debbie Ding, whose practice reworks formal, qualitative approaches, Wikicliki investigates the nature of collections and new strategies for the collection of contemporary art today.

Wikicliki: Collecting Habits on an Earth Filled with Smartphones asks the important question of what it means for museums to present and collect contemporary art in a time where the medium and format of the artworks themselves have become increasingly varied and dematerialised. We hope this exhibition will open up a space for reflexivity and dialogue on new modes of collecting, creating and presenting art,” says Dr June Yap, Director of Curatorial, Collections and Programmes, SAM.

The Artists and Their Artworks

The six artists in the exhibition exemplify a new development in contemporary art referred to as the “aggregate,” a qualitative approach to collecting, organising and interpreting the array of images and data that increasingly govern our everyday lives.

Bani Haykal (IC: the artist + machine)

Ranging from mixed media and sound installations, performance, photography and video, the works, Everything (Wikipedia) by Heman Chong; Nothing and Paradise by Chua Chye Teck; Here the River Lies and Rules for the Expression of Architectural Desires by Debbie Ding; momok elektrik by bani haykal; Singirl Online Project by Amanda Heng and SEA STATE 9: PROCLAMATION (drag), (drop), (pour) and SEA STATE 8: The Grid by Charles Lim Yi Yong, activate anachronisms, fictions, improvisations, and sympathies that articulate the predicaments of our current times. Please refer to Annex B for the full list of artworks.

As art audiences move away from the gallery space to the digital space, these six artists, at the intersection of new image circulation technologies, highlight the multi-faceted experience of Singapore’s industrial present and technological future.

The Curatorium and Public Programmes

The artist-curator pairings seek to drive conversations around their modes of working through focused examinations of their selected works. From these pairings, a series of discursive programmes will be developed by curator and artist, aimed at engaging the public in these conversations. These discussions will open up a space for dialogue and speculative encounters on the topics of human-machine intimacies, strategies for data collection, contemporary image- making in an age of digital information proliferation, and more. The public programmes include artist talks and workshops which will take place online and at the exhibition gallery. Please refer to Annex C for the full list of programmes.

As SAM’s museum buildings undergo redevelopment, the museum will continue to present exhibitions and programmes at multiple sites, connecting more extensively with diverse communities and expanding SAM’s contemporary art footprint island-wide. Wikicliki: Collecting Habits on an Earth Filled with Smartphones is on at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery, National Gallery Singapore from 22 April to 11 July 2021.

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