Art What! Arts Singapore Singapore Art Week 2021

Singapore Art Week 2021: Free Jazz III at NTU CCA

Arahmaiani, Monk praying for tree in the Lab Monastery area, 2014. Documentation of work with a community of monks (2010–ongoing). Khamp, Qinghai plateau. Photo: Feri Latief. Courtesy the artist

Collaborative and experimental by nature, Free Jazz III builds upon its past iterations by activating and challenging common understandings of exhibition-making and the use of space. Sound walks. Machines listen. We are living through unusual times. 

As the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore approaches a major transformation away from a permanent exhibition space in early 2021, Free Jazz III continues to explore the possibilities of an international research centre for contemporary art, featuring many artists who have been part of NTU CCA Singapore’s exhibitions, residencies, and programs since 2013, when the Centre presented Free Jazz as its inaugural event. The project began as a form of inquiry and an active tool to generate new possibilities for conceptualizing and programming an art institution. 

Ana Prvački, Tent, quartet, bows and elbows, 2018. Documentation of performance at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2018), Boston. Courtesy the artist.

Free Jazz III convenes diverse projects united by themes of adaptation via masterful improvisation, trans-mediatic pivots, and the conscious renegotiation of our relationships to nature, technology, and each other. The disparate components of Free Jazz III explore the elements of dissonance, resistance, and innovation embedded in its musical namesake and the ability for sound and art to transcend physical and social distance. Embracing sound and walking as two powerful ways to overcome distance and bring people together, Free Jazz III comprises projects that can take place in non-gallery spaces, independently, asynchronously, or in purposeful syncopation with the present moment, reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. 

Tini Aliman, Exit-Traverse-Disembark, 2020. Documentation of research on St. John’s Island (2020), Singapore. Courtesy the artist.

In Sound.Walks., watch as artists reflect on the loss of physicality through increased virtual interactions as well as many histories of sound and walking, artists address common life and communality in times of social distancing. In this series of performative explorations of sound, music, and community building, reflections take the form of soundwalks, sonic wayfinding and other physical and aural experiences, offering multiple ways for the public to actively witness, listen and participate, both remotely and on-site.

Diana Lelonek, Glacier du Rhône, 2019, documentation of research for Melting Gallery, 2019. Courtesy the artist.

Artists include Tini Aliman (Singapore), Christa Donner and Andrew S Yang (United States), and Diana Lelonek (Poland) and Denim Szram (Poland/Switzerland) are propelled by sonic outputs of nature. Storytelling, correspondence, and the impossibility of direct communication factor into projects by Cheryl Ong (Singapore), Ana Prvački (Romania/Germany) in collaboration with Joyce Bee Tuan Koh (Singapore) and Galina Mihaleva (Bulgaria/Singapore), and Vivian Wang (Singapore/Switzerland). Sound, history, culture, and space overlap and intertwine in works by Arahmaiani (Indonesia) and Jimmy Ong (Singapore), bani haykal (Singapore) and Lee Weng Choy (Malaysia), Reetu Sattar (Bangladesh), and anGie Seah (Singapore).

Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Dancing with the Ghost of My Child in 33 Steps, 2020, film still. Courtesy the artist.

Accompanying Free Jazz III. is Under the Skin, a trio of performative works by artists George Chua (Singapore), Nina Djekić (Slovenia/Singapore/Netherlands), and Noor Effendy Ibrahim (Singapore) engages with sound, bodily movements, and performance. These new pieces are cinematically translated into the medium of video by filmmaker Russell Morton (Singapore) and viewed online, acknowledging the curatorial premise that, “the pandemic has pushed us into a space of dramatic convergence—where a deep tech, hyper-connected future collides with social political unrest,” in both the work itself and the medium in which it is presented.

Nina Djekić, Approximities, 2020, film still. Courtesy the artist.

Other programmes include Machine Listening, a curriculum, an evolving online resource, comprising existing and newly commissioned writing, interviews, music and artworks is a new investigation and experiment in collective learning
around the emergent field of machine listening.

Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks. runs till 31st March 2021 at the NTU CCA. More information available here

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