Singapore Art Week 2018: Progress – The Game of Leaders by Sam Lo

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Sam Lo has long moved past her moniker of the ‘Sticker Lady’. The contemporary artist has been working incredibly hard over the last few years and gained recognition beyond her initial controversy, working on cheeky commissioned public art, products, projects such as INDIGOISM and even co-owns ice-cream shop Leng Leng Ice Cream.

First shown in Melbourne, her latest piece Progress: The Game of Leaders amps up the childhood nostalgia by taking on the classic tower block game of Jenga, and blowing it up to at least ten times the size. It’s completely playable, and visitors are more than encouraged to play a few rounds amongst themselves. But within this game also hides a keen, clever political message. Each of these blocks are etched with nation building terms, ranging from ‘Increase GDP’ to ‘Standard of Living’. Here, Sam uses the tower to represent skyscrapers and our relentless pursuit of progress and growth, and question how even though we’re in a good position, should never take things for granted.

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In the media preview held on Sunday, the first round of tower block building lasted a whopping 50 minutes, with the tower still holding up as visitors watched with bated breath, sweat dripping from their pores. The additional tension of making the difficult decision of which block to pull out only added more meaning to the work, as it became clear how each individual choice would lead to potentially disastrous consequences. To ease the tension, the team catered fried chicken from 4 Fingers, and specially designed beer from craft beer company Trouble Brewing, even utilizing an original label design from Sam Lo herself.

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A screenshot from our Instagram. Bottle designs by Sam.

Speaking to Sam after the first tower’s fall, we found out that she’s recently relaunched the website RCGTN. Collecting interviews, writeups and of course, artworks, RCGTN is an online platform that seeks to work as a form of archival, showcase and one stop reference for local artists, be it visual, music or design.

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Sam has also founded Project XIV, a new artist studio that focuses on aiding local visual artists in production, training and development. Says Sam: “With Project XIV, we want to showcase these artists’ work both online and in physical spaces, and that their work is available for sale and marketable. We want to secure them a living, and with the project, make sure they don’t have to deal with all the paperwork and administrative matters and just keep creating.”

On why the title Project XIV, Sam says: “It’s a reference to the 14th Statute in the legislation, which is the right to free speech. I wanted for the artists to say what they want, and for it to act as a means for them to grow and be able to fully express themselves.”

Progress: The Game of Leaders is on display at The Arts House till 28th January, after which it will be traveling to Hong Kong in March. Admission is free. You can find out more about Sam Lo’s other projects on sites like RCGTN and Project XIV, and follow her work on her Instagram

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