Art What! Arts Singapore

Art What!: SOFT REALITIES at 136 GOETHE LAB

After their launch back in April, new project space 136 GOETHE LAB is officially launching this October with the site-specific, multimedia installation SOFT REALITIES by Fiona Tan, Finbarr Fallon, and Ong Kian Peng.

Featuring building materials, light, video, and sound elements assembled in response to the space and its surrounding environment. The work is an intuitive response to the built architecture around it, the layers of narratives embedded in its urban landscape, as well as an interplay of the three artists’ multidisciplinary approaches.

Artists Fiona Tan, Finbarr Fallon, and Ong Kian Peng

The exhibit is the first cultural programme to be unveiled at 136 GOETHE LAB, the former library space of Goethe-Institut Singapore, which will function as an evolving project space dedicated to arts and culture. Newly-appointed Director of the institute, Dr. Martin Wälde, says: “We are excited to be launching a space of our own finally, especially in the context of space-scarce Singapore. It’s a small, versatile space— but I think it has a lot of potential to experiment and bringing artists and agents of culture together, and I’m confident we will see many exciting things done to the space in the months and years to come.”

The installation SOFT REALITIES was one of three applications selected as part of an open call to the local arts community in March of this year. On the programme direction of the space, institute cultural programmer, Valerie-Ann Tan, says: “The open calls are a more flexible, receptive way of engaging with the local scene, and it’s a programme that I think will keep the space changing and adapting organically in response to what artists envision of it.”

SOFT REALITIES situates and frames the space of 136 GOETHE LAB as a site of inquiry. The work explores real and imagined narratives within and beyond its physical space, told through the eyes and ears of the basement. Inspired in part by the allegory of Plato’s Cave, SOFT REALITIES is conceived as a site-specific installation and subterranean labyrinth. It comprises heavily built and schematised structures, but also intuitive gestures and spontaneous discoveries drawn from the site’s environs.

These seemingly opposed approaches of reading and determining one’s environment become a lens with which to experience the work. Through an assemblage of choreographed filmic projections, cut-out silhouettes, and subliminal soundscapes, SOFT REALITIES invites the audience to suspend your preconceptions, and plunge, and crouch, and peer, and overhear, as you encounter its shadows and glitches.

“We see this exhibition as a pivotal and transitional phase between its former existence and Goethe Institut’s aspiration for its future,” says SOFT REALITIES artist Ong Kian Peng. “This is captured by capitalising on the dualities between the inside and outside, insularity and connectivity.”

Goethe-Institut Singapore plans to continue developing the roster of programmes in the space with the annual open call, accompanying exhibitions to ongoing programmes, as well as international participation.

SOFT REALITIES is open to the public until 31st October 2021 at 136 GOETHE LAB, at 136 Neil Road. More information available on their website here

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