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Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore announces Paradise Lost

Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore presents Paradise Lost an exhibition featuring: Trinh T. Minh-ha: Surname Viet Given Name Nam Zarina Bhimji: Yellow Patch Fiona Tan: Disorient on view January 17–March 30, 2014.

Fiona Tan, Disorient (still), 2009. HD video installation. Courtesy the artist, Wako Works of Art, Tokyo and Frith Street Gallery, London.
Fiona Tan, Disorient (still), 2009. HD video installation. Courtesy the artist, Wako Works of Art, Tokyo and Frith Street Gallery, London.
Conceived as a constellation of three artistic productions that together explore narratives of travel and migration, place and displacement, the personal intertwined with colonial history, Paradise Lost introduces an imaginary Asia—Asia as a space of projections and desires stemming from an experience of dislocation and asynchronicity. Curated by Ute Meta Bauer and Anca Rujoiu, the show juxtaposes trans-generational perspectives, bringing together three major installations of moving image: Surname Viet Given Name Nam by Trinh T. Minh-ha, Yellow Patch by Zarina Bhimji and Disorient by Fiona Tan.

In Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), Trinh T. Minh-ha questions the norms of representation and filmic documentation, as she examines the lives of women in Vietnam and the US through themes of dislocation, exile and resistance. A filmmaker, composer, anthropologist and post-colonial theorist, Trinh has advocated in her art and writings for a continual readjustment of our understandings of what is “other” and “otherness.”

In Yellow Patch (2011), Zarina Bhimji traces her father’s migration from India to East Africa, revisiting an array of buildings and landscapes in Bombay and Gujurat through a disembodied, almost ghostly viewing experience that isolates images from any contextual information. Refraining from facts and references, Bhimji allows stories to manifest in the physical structures of abandoned buildings—archeological palimpsests that evoke a phantomatic presence, the spectre of a land of emotion.

Inspired by Marco Polo’s travels, Fiona Tan’s Disorient was conceived for the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009. This project questions stereotypical representations of the East as constructed by Western historical narratives and orientalist imaginations. The work disorients our patterns of looking by contrasting hoards of exotic and aesthetically loaded objects with incongruous images of violence, pollution and poverty.

Paradise Lost complements current explorations on the region, from the 2013 Singapore Biennale to the 2014 Art Stage Singapore art fair, bringing to the fore a perspective of Asia and its colonial history as perceived from near and afar. The exhibition investigates fictions of Asia by complicating them with more fictionalities. While Trinh T. Minh-ha articulates a cinematic dialectic, Fiona Tan and Zarina Bhimji work through an immersive visual language. Wrapped up in allegory and fiction, each work maintains a tight connection with the artists’ personal experiences of navigating cultural identity and homeland, migration and crossing borders.

A series of talks, reading groups and workshops will further explore the conceptual framework of the exhibition, including keynote presentations by Sarat Maharaj (Professor of Visual Art and Knowledge Systems, Lund University, and Malmo Art Academies, Sweden) and Ann Demeester (currently director de Appel, Netherlands, from February 2014, assuming leadership of the Frans Hals Museum and de Hallen Arts Centre in Haarle).

Paradise Lost will also serve as a catalyst for a long-term collaborative research project that will investigate the asynchronisities of diasporic spaces connected to the political and economical histories of migration along old and new trade routes.

CCA — NTU Centre for Contemporary Art
Block 43, Malan Road
Gillman Barracks, 109443