Exhibition 'Unsettling Time(s)' by Kin Chui and Agan Harahap at Cemeti, 12-27 July 2017
an exhibition, artist talk and discussion series at Cemeti in the framework of Objectifs (Singapore) residency exchange programme is opening on Wednesday 12 July 2017, 19.00 hrs and will be followed by a conversation with Kin Chui and Agan Harahap on Wednesday 26 July 2017, 19.00 hrs. For more information on the discussion series please visit here.
Cemeti team writes to us:
You are warmly invited to join us on Wednesday 12 July 2017, 19.00 hrs for the opening of Unsettling Time(s), an exhibition of work by the artists Kin Chui(Singapore) and Agan Harahap (Indonesia). Both artists participanted in a residency exchange program initiated by Objectifs in Singapore, with Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society as its 2017 partner. Between January and February 2017, Agan Harahap spent four weeks at Objectifs in Singapore. This month, Kin Chui is staying with us at Cemeti, conducting his research with support of program assistant Adhiwinanto Semali.
The exhibition Unsettling Time(s) presents one project by each artist: Kin Chui’s Performing Coloniality (2014) and Agan Harahap’s Mardijker Photo Studio (2014-). In their own way, both projects reflect on colonial histories, using archival images as a starting point to question and confuse established narratives. In so doing the works make visible how power structures laid down during colonial occupation persist today.
Performing Coloniality by Kin Chui is a multi-channel video installation projected on translucent screens that hang from the ceiling. The work links up seemingly disparate times and narratives, questioning the role of the archive as a “scientific” record of history and the role of the human body, where memory sits. The work starts from a historical photograph found in The National Archives of the UK and Singapore, which is presented as a still image on a screen. A second screen shows a contemporary reenactment: three actors copy the pose of the protagonists in the photograph, whilst in the background; men in plastic coats are busy arranging the seemingly natural decor. The last screen shows the film crew against a backdrop of the all to familiar high-rise of Singapore. In a two-fold script, Kin Chui weaves together different times and places, questioning which colonial histories and counter-histories have become engrained in our daily lives, have become sedimented as social codes and traditions, and which narratives were moved to the periphery, where they remain unheard, silenced? And importantly, how do these colonial legacies shape the present-day of Singapore and Southeast Asia?
Agan Harahap’s Mardijker Photo Studio presents quasi-historical narratives as a collection of portrait photographs depicting a community called the Mardijkers, descendants of a dispersed community of slaves during Portuguese colonial time who settled down in port cities such as Batavia (present-day Jakarta). The word became more widespread when the Dutch introduced the passenstelsel (identity cards) policy, requiring them to raise their hands and shout “Mardijker!” as a status indicator. The work displays its own version of historical “facts” by mixing fact with fiction: Harahap collaged and edited archival photographs from the Tropenmuseum archives (Amsterdam), showing colonizers in local dress and local people in European costumes of the time. By turning the tables, the work intervenes and challenges historical narratives and makes us question our position within contemporary society. Agan Harahap often distributes his photographs, including Mardijker Photo Studio, on social media under the name Sejarah_X (History X).
In the framework of this exhibition and Kin Chui’s residency period, Cemeti will organise a series of talks and discussions on postcolonialism and decolonizing practice with researchers, academics, artists, writers, and other practitioners. We will share details of this programme separately. Please keep an eye on our website, Facebook page and Instagram (@cemeti.institute) for details.
We hope to see you next week at Cemeti for Unsettling Time(s)!