Ornamental ⠂瓖 (xiāng) highlights an attentiveness towards the physicality of art works as ‘objects’, where artists in the show rematerialise various forms of domestic, cultural and political constructs to transcend the notion of utility in favour of aesthetics.
Personal and collective memories pervade the space in ways that are recalled and revitalised into an ornate, dreamlike environment. It deliberates on the ‘decorative’ as critical, whilst echoing a belief that art is bound to nothing but its own essence. As one navigates through familiar portrayals of the home, history, or post-colonial; the divides between the public and private, home and state, conscious and subliminal become increasingly blurred.
Employing motifs of the hyper-real and kitsch through performance and video, Quynh Dong articulates the struggles of the Vietnamese diasporic experience. As the body politic continues to be invariably tied to the home, Santi Wangchuan weaves elaborate ‘garlands’ of flowers, balloons and traditional masks in two new works, Flowers Goddess and Flowers Rain, against the backdrop of a rapidly urbanising Thailand. Shayne Phua decodes symbols from East Asian culture to bridge the past with the present in imaginative and intuitive ways, challenging the objectivity of history in otherwise romantic and delicate forms. Transporting us to an otherworldly, sensuous rhapsody, Lizzie Wee reflects on how the objectification of women has gradually becomes commonplace in Honey Trap, which cross-references vintage magazines like Penthouse and Playboy gathered from her father’s youth as well as female archetypes in Asian television series and movies. Likewise, Stephanie Jane Burt creates sculptural installations that references film, literature and fashion to unpack such narratives around feminism, girl culture and nouveau roman. Featuring archival images from romance comic anthologies, Romance Report Letters was developed in hopes of recasting the heroine of these stories who seem to be in a state of constant peril.