Arts News Singapore

Art What!: Joo Choon Lin – Dance in the Destruction Dance at Tanjong Pagar Distripark

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) will officially open Joo Choon Lin: Dance in the Destruction Dance at Tanjong Pagar Distripark this month, inviting audiences into a sensorially rich landscape that reimagines perceptions of form, reality, and human consciousness through everyday objects. Open to the public from 13 January to 16 April 2023, the exhibition by Singaporean artist Joo Choon Lin is the second solo exhibition under the museum’s Material Intelligence series. This follows Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai’s A Machine Boosting Energy into the Universe, which opened in January 2022.

Transforming Gallery 2 of SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark into an atmospheric environment that is both a performance space and art installation, Dance in the Destruction Dance is an exploration of how the present is an illusion, and things are not what they seem. The installation features several artworks: Glue Your Eyelids Together (2017), I Only Make Friends With Money (2012), and Beatific Perfume (2020-present), assembling sculpture, video and drawings to inquisitively ask if there is a distinction between reality and appearance. The artworks will be activated through a two-part theatrical performance, pEARs ‘ — — — ‘ in §pring (2018). Scripted by Joo and with original compositions by sound designer and composer, Joe Ng, the performance highlights the migration of forms and shapes the narrative of the exhibition. Through the exhibition, Joo raises thoughts about how the thresholds of consciousness can be animated through objects around us, and highlights how perception is just an appearance of what we imagine the world to be.

Dance in the Destruction Dance draws from Joo’s experimentation with post-industrial materials such as plastics and metals, and how they constantly shapeshift and come to be adapted for myriad functions. It also exemplifies her ongoing explorations into how imagination can become a vehicle to make the invisible world visible through a play of the objects she creates and the performances she stages in her large installations”, said Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Senior Curator at SAM. “This exhibition extends SAM’s curatorial agenda to present experimental, object-based and materially-oriented artistic practices to facilitate new forms of presentation that make meaning of our everyday experiences. We invite visitors to stretch the limits of their imagination as they examine the way Joo presents and activates materials through different modes of presentation, from installation, to animation and performance.”

Joo Choon Lin, Come Out And Play!, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Joo first exhibited with SAM over a decade ago in 2009 with her stop-motion animation installation, Come Out And Play!, and again with STOP in here and get into the MOTION in 2010. Her mixed media installation, Your Eyes Are Stupid, was also showcased at the Singapore Biennale 2013. Dance in the Destruction Dance is commissioned by SAM, as it looks to continually encourage artistic practices in Singapore that explore newer ways of exhibition-making, and it will also mark the first critical contextualisation of Joo’s practice, with connections drawn across bodies of work developed over the past fifteen years. 

Joo’s practice engages with the transfiguration of materials through technology and other modes of making to challenge the conventions of human perception, turning objects into new tools and cybernetic assemblages or activating them in videos and performances. Dance in the Destruction Dance also builds on her interest in scenographic design and theatrical performance, as SAM’s gallery space will shift from stage set to installation when elements are modified during performances. Through the experimental use of sculpture, video and performance, audiences will be invited into a world that offers a boundlessness of form and a multiplicity of interpretations.

Joo Choon Lin, pEARs ‘ — — — ‘ in §pring. 2018. Image courtesy of FOGSTAND Gallery & Studio.

Returning visitors to the exhibition can witness the installation’s constant evolution, accompanied by immersive soundscapes and video projections. From January to March 2023, live theatrical performances to activate the installation and its various elements will be held within the gallery space. Scripted and performed by Joo alongside other performers, these activations will see the manipulation of installation sculptures, as they undergo transformations into unrecognisable shapes and configurations.  

With each new performance, the installation becomes a site of new encounters while simultaneously archiving its prior iterations. Video projections interweaving physical activations and digital animations of the sculptures will be screened as part of the exhibition. There will also be complementary public programmes such as curator tours, artist-collaborator performances and talks.

The exhibition is part of SAM’s Material Intelligence exhibition series, which investigates how artists connect modes of making associated with materials to speculations about our ecological and technological futures, and reflects the museum’s vision to push the boundaries of experimental ideas and practice. 

Joo Choon Lin: Dance in the Destruction Dance runs from 13th January to 16th April 2023 at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. Admission is free for all visitors throughout the exhibition period. During Singapore Art Week 2023, visitors can enjoy extended museum hours on Fridays and Saturdays, alongside a variety of programmes, such as performances, tours, workshops, activities for families. From 6th to 15th January 2023, SAM will also be offering free admission to the Singapore Biennale 2022. More information available here

SAW 2023 runs from 6th to 15th January 2023. For more information on SAW 2023 programmes, visit, or follow @sgartweek on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram

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