Not many people follow the contemporary art scene in Singapore, but fret not, the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library has a few gems that’ll surely interest you! Today, we will be introducing three fascinating artists based in Singapore, and a book by each of them.
1. Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book by Shubigi Rao
We’ll start with multidisciplinary artist Shubigi Rao. She wrote Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book Vol I, which we highly recommend if you’re interested to learn about humanity and history through the destruction of books. It is the first book in a series of five, and is part of a decade-long project about the history of book destruction, censorship and other forms of repression.
She has been visiting collections, libraries and archives globally to collect and piece together historical fragments that show us “what it means to be human and build fictions, and also how human it is to burn them.”
2. Lucid Dreams in the Reverie of the Real by Lee Wen
Artist Lee Wen passed away on 3rd March 2019. He was one of Singapore’s most internationally renowned artists, and his work traces themes of European colonialism and the modernisation of Singapore.
He’s best remembered for his playful and provocative performances, such as the Yellow Man series, where he covers his body in bright yellow pigment to challenge stereotypes of his ethnicity.
Lee Wen has created a lifetime’s worth of art, and the next best thing to visiting an actual exhibition, is to view his work in this comprehensive publication: Lucid Dreams in the Reverie of the Real. It includes beautiful documentation of many of his iconic performances and even some rarely seen installation works.
3. An Epic of Durable Departures : Poems by Jason Wee
Speaking of Lee Wen, the next book we’re recommending, An Epic of Durable Departures, is quite a special one. It is a poetry book written by artist Jason Wee about his friendship with Lee Wen, who was struggling with Parkinsons at the time. Written in haiku and renga forms, Wee meditates on friendship and mortality as he tries to come to terms with his dear friend’s illness.
Jason Wee who is an artist and writer working between contemporary art, architecture, poetry and photography. He also runs Grey Projects, an art library and artist residency in Tiong Bahru.
There you have it, three contemporary artists and three books to add to your list. Inspired to visit the museum now?