Perfect Stranger

solo exhibition by Dawn Ng

19 January -  22 February 2018

What began as a body of private elucidations with personal intents from a would-be mother to her first-born child and daughter is now laid bare as an immersive installation. Born from a year’s worth of daily responses to questions from a newly acquainted psychologist and friend, 48 bodies of text that binds Perfect Stranger lie supine on the floor. As a piece of situated installation, the artwork occupies the entirety of the gallery. Thin lanes between each printed module invite visitors to traverse barefoot amongst the manuscript; otherwise, from a specially constructed podium, one could choose to hover and contemplate over its field of affecting colours.

Abandoning the comfort and utility of objects and the visual image, Dawn Ng prompts visitors to come face to face with words that impel introspective dialogues. Like moments lived and passed, the visual body is now a corpse, removed from performing its usual, central role in understanding of the art. In its place are linguistic experiences, cerebral etchings of one’s own discrete picture, connecting each distinctive mind of the willful viewer who arrives loaded with filters of inimitable life-experiences.

Profoundly signifying rites of passage associated with womanhood and motherhood, Dawn’s biographic, confessional scripts recall vestiges from the work of artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Ed Ruscha, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Shirin Neshat and Tracey Emin who have all consciously and effectively employed the use of text as art. But here, Perfect Stranger forsakes slogans, protests or calls to action in place of the poetic, preferring to invoke the Singaporean vernacular with references of food, places and culture specific experiences. And through this, Dawn continue to trace links to her earlier oeuvres, extending their purposeful function as sociological records and time-capsule for the future.

Frolicking between histories of ‘concrete poetry’ from the 1900s, Cubist and Surrealist innovation in the use of text, and her background in applied arts, Dawn’s determined aesthetics clasps itself to engage the millennium. And what began as a year-long, intimate exercise is now not only exposed, but also existentially ported onto those it encounters.

Khai Hori, Dec 2018

 

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