Singaporean artist Amanda Heng, 65, will be showcasing her first solo exhibition entitled We Are the World – These Are Our Stories in conjunction with the STPI’s 15th anniversary and Singapore Art Week (SAW2017).
Comprising 24 prints and digital extensions, Heng applies her collaborative and process-driven approach to printing and papermaking techniques to highlight the power of storytelling and collective art making. They embark on a project that extends the traditional artist residency and institution for the very first time.
Heng worked with the STPI Creative Workshop and 12 individuals of diverse backgrounds and communities to produce this truly collaborative piece that encompasses performance as well as visual elements. During her first residency at STPI, Heng conducted her seminal performance piece Let’s Chat with the collaborators, engaging them in a conversation over plucking the tips off beansprouts (an act that resounds with locals as a domestic communal task).
Using treasured object or heirloom chosen by each individual as a starting point for a process of sharing (or “performances” as Heng calls them), Heng listened in order to build the mutual trust necessary for her participants to lower their personal barriers and perform their storytelling with the honesty and vulnerability possible. Under her guidance and direction, each individual is free to explore and reconstruct one’s memories using printing and papermaking.
The resulting prints are private, personalised, yet relatable and universal, woven by the pathos of nostalgia into a tapestry of shared human experience. As for the first time in her practice Heng pairs a QR code with each print to transport the work from the gallery space into the digital realm at the viewer’s wish.
The QR codes are also an integral part of the viewer’s experience that transforms their passivity into active “participants,” as they enter and delve deeper into each storytelling experience beyond the boundaries of the physical space through short videos, interviews, and slide shows online.
As Russell Storer, senior curator of the National Gallery, puts it, We Are the World – These Are Our Stories is “a bold statement about agency. It expresses that we define the world around us, and that this task can be undertaken with the most modest of means, and in fundamental and universal way – the telling of stories”.
The exhibition opens on Jan 6 from 6.30pm onwards.