If you remember the performances of Yellow Man where a man would be resplendent in bright yellow paint on his body, then you may have seen performance artist Lee Wen. For two-and-a-half decades, the 2005 Cultural Medallion winner has created a stunning portfolio of works that seek to challenge social structures and explore cultural identity and constructivism as the world increasingly faces a homogenised culture. Such works include starting up Future of Imagination in 2003, which is an international performance art event including time-based presentations and discussions which are often left open to interpretation and manipulation. The event ended its sixth run in 2010.
Now, Lee Wen is set to document his contributions to Singapore contemporary art in Lee Wen: Lucid Dreams in the Reverie of the Real, a new exhibition by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). Along with his works, Lee Wen will also perform live during selected exhibition periods and talk about his experiences and personal development as an artist, covering subjects such as memories and myth-making.
A particular programme that those who might be unfamiliar with Lee Wen’s work might be interested in is In Conversation: Lee Wen, a session where Singapore Arts Museum curator Khairuddin Hori speaks to Lee to trace the journey of his practice from being one of the initial members of contemporary art group The Artists Village (TAV) in the late 1980s to developing art projects for TAV’s newly-created spaces such a P-10 and Your MOTHER Gallery. This free session is on 25 May at 7.30pm at the Glass Hall in SAM.
His collaborative performances during the exhibition will set to congregate musicians, activists and performance art practitioners with live events R.O.O.M. (Random Offerings Of Music), D.I.A. (Dialogue with Independent Activists) and O.O.P.S. (Offerings Of PerformanceS) respectively. In R.O.O.M, visitors are invited to join Lee and musical collaborator Jordan Johari in a jamming session as part of Songs of Sisyphus in the Key or Narcissus, a collaborative work incorporating a recording studio. Visitors can perform a piece of music spontaneously or jam along with the ‘mountain’.
In O.O.P.S., performance artists will be invited to create solo performances or take part in a collaborative performance with Lee. In D.I.A., Lee will engage with independent activists in Singapore such as organiser of Singapore’s SlutWalk movement Vanessa Ho and find out the overlaps and differences in the fields of work in activism and in art. It must be noted the both roles do adopt similar strategies but the difference in creative approaches makes this discussion one to watch.
The exhibition is at Level 2 and runs from 20 April to 10 June; SAM and SAM at 8Q admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students with valid student card and foreign senior citizens. Admission is free for Singaporean and PR senior citizens, full-time NS men and students and teachers from local schools. R.O.O.M., D.I.A. and O.O.P.S. are free. For more information, visit http://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg/exhibitions/details.php?id=92.