Video, an Art, a History 1965–2010

Almost two years in the pipeline, this exhibition is a collaboration between Centre Pompidou, one of the greatest advocates of contemporary art, and the Singapore Art Museum.
Of the 50 pivotal video art works showcased, 38 works from the Centre Pompidou collection feature internationally acclaimed artists like Nam June Paik, Jean-Luc Goddard, Issac Julien, Bruce Nauman and Bill Viola, while the Singapore Art Museum infuses a Southeast Asian flavor with 12 works from important regional artists like Lee Wen, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, The Propeller Group and DinhQ Le.
Tan Boon Hui, Director of Singapore Art Museum, adds, “Inserting key contemporary Southeast Asian pieces into the show acknowledges the region’s role in the international narrative of video art and helps to elevate the profile of our regional talent.”
This certainly bodes well for the continued development of the form within the region as emerging artists with a penchant for working with pixels and bleeps have an avenue to showcase their creations.
Spanning across the museum’s two buildings, the works are sequestered into six themes (not quite enough for a color bar but we aren’t complaining): “Utopia and Critique of Television;” “Identity Issues;” “From Videotape to Installation;” ‘Landscape Dreams;” “Memory: Between Myth & Reality;” and “Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Narratives.” With such a comprehensive collection, it would be wise to spend at least four hours at the museum during your weekend jaunt.
Among the must-see works are Lee Wen’s World Class Society and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Two Planets; both deal with their subject matter with compelling wit and humor.
World Class Society is an interactive work that was first shown at Nokia Art Singapore in 1999. In a sepulchral room imbued with white and designed like a prison cell, one visitor at a time watches, through a white cloth tube, a close-up of Lee Wen dressed like a typical servant and delivering a bombastically satirical speech replete with the phrase, “World class.” Visitors who fill up a questionnaire also receive a badge.
In Two Planets, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook heads to a village in Thailand where she invites local farmers to share their unbridled, candid views on four famous Impressionist paintings. The spontaneity of how the farmers relate to the work might just surprise you.
Video, an Art, a History 1965–2010 runs through Sep 18 at Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Rd., 6332-2222. $5-10.