Art What! Arts Singapore

Art What!: Lai Yu Tong’s Selfish Boxes at The Substation

Running as part of The Substation’s final Associate Artist programme, Lai Yu Tong’s Selfish Boxes runs at The Substation Gallery this April, his third solo exhibition as part of his year long participation in the Associate Artist Programme 2020. The exhibition presents new works that contemplate car culture, art, and death in the context of Singapore.

“A recent discovery of a tiny bird figurine that measures no more than 2 cm long has now been declared the oldest work of art ever found in East Asia, dated to be at least 13,000 years old,” says Lai. “The historic discovery proves that people made art in China as early as during the Stone Age, and that they liked birds.”



“It’s 2020 and I am making clay figurines, paintings and drawings of cars because the people of my time, they love cars. I imagine I am a child, innocently trying to draw my parents’ car but my strokes are harsh and violent, almost angry,” he adds. “My future, ruined. I think of the end of the world and all these cars parked in huge carparks and some cars still caught in jams, like one big mistake. Selfish boxes. And then I think of after the end of this world. Someone or something finds a figurine, a drawing, or a painting somewhere central of Singapore amongst what was once a power station, an art space, and then a carpark. And wonders, why?”

Lai Yu Tong (b. 1996) is a Singaporean artist who works mainly with images. He makes works about the things he sees, things he buys, things he eats, things he uses, things he throws away, and other things, examining habits of consumption whilst living in a city. He studied at the School of the Arts and LASALLE College of the Arts, both in Singapore, and is a recipient of the National Arts Council Scholarship and the LASALLE Award for Academic Excellence.

He has presented solo exhibitions DECK and Comma Space and has also presented his works at SAM 8Q, Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore, The Esplanade, The Arts House, ISLANDS, and The Substation. He also makes books and music, and briefly ran an experimental art space called —Tom in 2018.

Selfish Boxes runs from 7th to 18th April at the Substation Gallery.

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