Art What! Arts Singapore

Art What!: Restless Topographies at 136 GOETHE LAB

Goethe-Institut Singapore has launched the second project at 136 GOETHE LAB – the ongoing research project Restless Topographies by Zarina Muhammad, Joel Tan, and Zachary Chan. Their research centres around environmental and ecological histories of Singapore, in particular, colonial-era terraforming and land-use policies which have determined the violent reshaping of the island’s coastlines and other endemic geographies of the landscape, such as mangroves, forests, and hills.

From December to January, the collective will explore the surrounding areas of 136 GOETHE LAB, from Tanjong Pagar to Labrador Park, traversing the evolution of the coastline—a historical node of various spiritual ecologies and migrant pathways. As an ongoing process of their research and occupancy of 136 GOETHE LAB, the trio will develop art objects, sound pieces, sound walks, dioramas, and installation, that encapsulate the narratives and phenomena of their encounters.

“We’ve enjoyed taking the time to find unexpected and affecting responses to some very violent forces that have shaped our collective and individual lives in this city. We really appreciate the time and space afforded by the lab to look between the hard lines of infrastructure. In this time, we’ve found solace in walking the inter-tidal landscape, experimenting with salt and fermentation as metaphor, consulting old maps, and thinking through the history of animals; pursuing other ways of being, knowing, and feeling in this city,” says the team.

Through an open studio format, public presentations and performances, the artists’ research, works-in-progress, anecdotes, and encounters will be made accessible to the public. Restless Topographies is the second cultural programme to be unveiled at 136 GOETHE LAB, the former library space of the institute, which will function as an evolving project space dedicated to arts and culture.

Director of the institute, Dr. Martin Wälde, says, “Restless Topographies incorporates exemplarily what the new Goethe Lab is about—research-based artistic explorations, innovative and interdisciplinary practices, process rather than readymade presentations, open formats involving networks in the city, and fields of research diving deep into the complex layers of Singapore.

The collective’s occupancy at 136 GOETHE LAB will conclude with a week-long presentation during Singapore Art Week 2022.

Restless Topographies runs till 23rd January 2022 at 136 GOETHE LAB, at 136 Neil Road. More information available on their website here

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