October Gathering #1

October Gathering #1

National Gallery Singapore

January 26, 2023
October Gathering #1
October 7–16, 2022
National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew's Rd
Singapore 178957
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–7pm

T +65 6271 7000
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Since its inauguration in 2015, National Gallery Singapore has focused on mapping the history of art in Southeast Asia and actively sought to develop the grounds from which a new museology may be expressed. These efforts have centred greatly on Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present, the Gallery’s evolving collections display that advances the region’s attitudes towards art and its poetics. Over the years, Between Declarations and Dreams has grown with experimental approaches being added to its curatorial repertoire. In 2020, the project space Dalam Southeast Asia (in Malay, dalam means within) was carved out of the existing spaces to narrate pressing perspectives between activism, modern art museum and the postcolonial moment. The Gallery’s changing exhibitions have also emerged from themes first identified within Between Declarations and Dreams.

This is a website about a gathering that occurred over two weekends in October 2022 at the historically significant City Hall Chamber located at the heart of the Gallery.

Convened by curators of the Gallery in association with their allies, October Gathering #1 celebrated the affirmations and challenges issued by artists and cultural workers from across Southeast Asia over the past three years. As Singapore and the world cautiously emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, October Gathering #1 sought to chart burgeoning issues in the field to think through artistic agencies as they evolve within the exigencies of the present moment.

Conversations ranged from our ability to develop ethical paradigms that enable more inclusive measures for accessing art, challenges confronting the study of art and artistic labour, to actively engaging with the paradigm of “consumption,” which is regarded today as the most widely prevailing method of expanding art’s publics. No consensus was sought, yet the participants of the inaugural October Gathering agreed that it has become urgent to offer eclectic insights into these evolving phenomena.

Formats included workshops, legal clinics, panel discussions, actions, monologues, and performances. All public sessions of the October Gathering #1 are available at this dedicated website.

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List of programmes

A Cyborg Island Manifesto: A Performance, A Position, A Provocation

Amanda Lee Koe considered stories of agency, urgency and futurism in her keynote performance lecture.

A Party for Bodies in Inertia
A communal ritual of music, dancing, of sharing spaces with friends and strangers alike.

An Uncommon History of the Common Fence​: A Prologue by Jason Wee & The Reading Spiral
Jason Wee, Justin Zhuang, Lilian Chee, and Goh Sze Ying unpacked the concerns of the common fence as a participant in key events in the history of Singapore.

Archival Intelligence: A Legal and Digital Workshop for Artists and Researchers
A workshop based on a series of meetings and panels that brought together artists, researchers and archivists from the region alongside lawyers and Arweave to prospect Web3 solutions that serve marginalised artists, independent spaces and cultural histories at risk of being lost.

Concert for the Haunted
A re-alliance with intuitive and embodied ways of knowing and encouraging expanded imaginings of togetherness through modes of listening.

Darkened Rooms
Sean Lee, Mintio, and Janice Loo revisited the photographic medium with respect to a museum’s role in society in this discussion moderated by Charmaine Toh. 

I Am An Artist (He Said)
A recording of a live reading of extracts from Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s compelling and humorous writings by Heman Chong, Amanda Lee Koe and Araya herself, and a sharing on the development of the book by Roger Nelson.

Learning from “Craft”
Conan Cheong, Nalina Gopal, Roy Ng, Fajrina Razak, Joel Sherwood-Spring and Teo Hui Min discussed what could be learnt from the fractures between “craft,” “art” and the “modern.”

Old Habits Die Hard​
Through feminist methodologies, this exercise by Pooja Nansi and Dr Wulan Dirgantoro aimed to return to works made by artists who dealt with socio-cultural and political issues to generate more inclusive and intersectional approaches, voices, and narratives.

Pop-up Library
Stocked with titles hand-picked by the collaborators of October Gathering and librarians from National Library Board, the library addressed and expanded on critical themes and provocations raised in the sessions. 

The Distance Between Us: Moving Image Speaks to Performance Art
Ray Langenbach, Kaloy Olavides and David Hanan explored the intersections between performance and time-based media.

The Neglected Dimension
Arahmaiani, Syaheedah Iskandar, Noorashikin binte Zulkifli and Anissa Rahadiningtya discussed the absence of Islam and Islamic religiosity and spirituality in art historical narratives of modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia.

The Original is an Illusion: Reconstructing Towards a Mystical Reality
Simon Soon and Biljana Ciric delved into how we could develop approaches to studying exhibitions that extended beyond what we had from art history.

Two Planets 
Convivial but critical, the lectures by two pairs of discussants (Zarina Muhammad and Tini Aliman, Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker) touched on the role of bawdy humour, the workings of the unconscious in Southeast Asian art, what we can learn from animal and plant life, as well as the limits and dangers of certain gendered or sexualised compositions.

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National Gallery Singapore
January 26, 2023

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