Yavuz Gallery is pleased to present Jason Wee’s Awkward in the Film sector of ART SG 2024. Titled Embodied Presences, the sector is curated by Sam I-shan and presented in collaboration with ArtScience Museum, Singapore.
This selection of artist films and video art is centred around the body in all its perceiving and expressive capacities, material realities and mythic imaginaries. In Program 1: Movement in Space, the performing body charts social spaces, explores relationality, and demonstrates psychological states. The lived experience of the human (and non-human) subject is asserted through testimony of speech and gesture in Program 2: Voice and Being. The films in Program 3: The Worldly and Otherworldly crisscross between the earthly and spiritual realms, from the kitsch of contemporary capitalistic living, to the sensory, spectral visions of folktales and rituals.
5:28 mins, Single-channel video
Wee’s artistic practice cannot be disentangled from poetry and publishing. For over a decade, Wee consistently wrote, published and taught poetry in parallel with his commitment to his artistic practice and supporting alongside artists of different generations. Besides, language’s aesthetic, rhythmic and political qualities permeated his sculptural interventions, performative pieces, and photographic assemblages.
In Awkward, the connection between art and poetry takes a palpable form. The life of a poet becomes the artist’s subject of inquiry. What does poetry do? And why is it that we fear it? After all, the poets were kicked out of the republic. Muriel Rukeyser, a poet who had skilfully fused the autobiographical with the political, began her 1949 prose book, The Life of Poetry, with an exploration of resistances to poetry. “Anyone dealing with poetry and the love of poetry,” Rukeyser acutely signals “must deal, then, with the hatred of poetry.” The “truth of feeling” in poetry, as she approaches it, generates so much of this resistance. In Wee’s work, the fear of this truth that articulates our deepest emotions and desires is sequentially played out.
In Awkward, we see the artist in a video dancing to the sound of clapping hands. He dances at nighttime, the sounds and lights of traffic roar through the hedges into the empty lot. This ludic intervention under a nondescript highway implicitly disrupts Singapore’s perception of business-as-usual, slickness and restraint. We hear a tumultuous clapping acting as an internal voice that drives and pressurises the artist to dance, perform, disguise, loosen up. While the artist submits, his body sporadically expresses resistance to the expectations to put on a show.
Awkward was commissioned for In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire, curated by Shubigi Rao at the 5th edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
ART SG FILM is held at ArtScience Museum
L4, 6 Bayfront Ave Singapore, 018974
Screening Schedule: 18 – 21 January 2023