Body and Place: Performance Art in Singapore Since the 1980s

The third exhibition of Twisting theCube Series (TCS), an experimental curatorial project at TheCube 7F invited Singaporean artist Jason J S Lee to curate Body and Place: Performance Art in Singapore Since the 1980s. The exhibition presented the history of Singapore, the relationship between artists and place, and how different social elements have shaped the unique context of performance art in Singapore, through various archives. The exhibition was from 15 April 2023 till 17 June, including two film screenings and a two-day live performance at Bopiliao Historical Block in Taipei, featuring artists from Taiwan and Singapore, providing a unique opportunity for artistic exchange between artists from these two places.

About the exhibition

In the 1980s, Singapore underwent rapid urban and economic development. Tang Da Wu, an artist who had lived in the UK for many years, returned to his homeland and shared the approaches of avant-garde and experimental art with young artists. Subsequently, in the rural outskirts of Singapore, Tang Da Wu established the first artist colony in the city-state —”The Artists Village”. Tang invited a group of like-minded artists to make use of the place to make art, responding to social issues prevalent in their immediate environment. Over the few years of the village’s short existence, TAV hosted performance events and open studios to interact and engage with audiences. The avant-garde nature of performance art was in stark contrast with the conservative art ecology at that time, and thus began to attract curiosity and attention. Several of TAV’s early members, such as Lee Wen, Amanda Heng, and Vincent Leow, went on to become very important and influential artists in Singapore. Over the following four decades, performance art in Singapore has often taken place in various non-art spaces such as rural villages, on the streets, abandoned warehouses, disused train stations, and bustling malls, upholding a spirit of deviance against society in order to create a certain dialogue with the public. In addition, it conveys an implicit dissatisfaction with and criticism of social structures.

The title of the exhibition refers to “looking back”, “body” and “land” — a retrospective on the history of performance art in Singapore from the perspective of a Singaporean in Taiwan, with “place” as the focal point of the narrative. The exhibition introduces performance art in Singapore from the 1980s to the present day, presenting the history of Singapore, the relationship between artists and place, and how different social elements have shaped the unique context of performance art in Singapore, through various archives.

Documents Courtesy

Independent Archive
Founded in Singapore in 2012 by artist Lee Wen (1957–2019) and was one of his last major projects. The Independent Archive collects documentation on performance art and ephemeral aspects of art in Singapore. Its objective is to establish an archive of arts and cultural production to maintain an open resource center that encourages research, dialogue and discussion, as well as develop artistic discourse with programs such as talks and workshops by artists.

The Singapore Art Archive Project
Initiated in 2005 by Singaporean artist and independent researcher Koh Nguang How, the core of the Singapore Art Archive Project (SAAP) is the collection and study of materials, literatures, catalogues, publications, and news articles related to Singaporean artists, works, and exhibitions. SAAP’s strategy is to continue to curate and present the archive in a variety of ways and themes.

Ray Langenbach
Ray Langenbach creates conceptual artworks and performance art, convenes gatherings and writes on cultural theory, performance, and queer culture. He performs and curates throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, the United States, and Palestine. His video archive of Southeast Asian performance resides at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, and various museums.

Your MOTHER gallery
Established on 31 December 2004 to provide artists in Singapore an alternative and affordable art space; owner and resident artist Jeremy Hiah lives and works here.

About Twisting theCube Series

Twisting theCube Series (TCS) is an experimental project launched by TheCube in 2020. The guiding philosophy behind this project is to present studies on specific topics in the form of mini-exhibition, so as to reveal the dynamic thinking behind curatorial or creative practice and explore the context constructed by broadly defined “documents” and “archives”. The visitors can enjoy and read the exhibits in a cozy, relaxing environment at TheCube 7F.

Film Screening

2023.05.13 (Sat), 05.20 (Sat) 14:00@TheCube 7F
China Moon, Lee Wen, 56′, 2001
Breaking the Ice, Abdul Nizam, 54′, 2015

Live Performance Art Presentation

Dates|2023.06.03 (Sat) / 06.04 (Sun)  14:00

Venue|Bopiliao Historic Block 173-21&173-23
Artists|Chen Yi-Ju (TW), Chen Kuan-Ying (TW), Huang Xuan (TW), Arrvin Raj (SG), Nicole Phua (SG), Jireh Koh (SG)

About the curator

Jason J S LEE (Singapore)
Jason J S Lee is an artist from Singapore based in Taipei. His practice takes the form of photography, installation, and performance. He is concerned with issues that revolve around the urban environment and contemporary society. He has participated in group exhibitions, curatorial projects, and collaborations with varying roles as artist, organizer, photographer, web publisher, and designer. He has presented works extensively in Singapore and various countries including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macao, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Date|2023.04.15 – 06.17 (Wed-Sat 14:00-19:00)
Venue|TheCube 7F (7F., No. 241, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei, Taiwan)
Opening|2023.04.15 (Sat 15:00-18:00)
Documents courtesy of Independent Archive, The Singapore Art Archive Project, Ray Langenbach, Your MOTHER gallery
Curator|Jason J S Lee


Exhibition Organizer|TheCube Project Space
Exhibition Sponsor|NCAF, Winsing Arts Foundation
Performance Event Sponsor|Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government
TheCube 7F Sponsor|RC Culture and Arts Foundation

Back To Top