INTERVIEW: Singaporean artist WeiXin Chong
WeiXin Chong is a fine artist making her way through the art world with a viewpoint informed by her practice, which deals with perception, superficiality and human relationships, often expressed through materials. She is currently engaged in a residency at the NTU-Center for Contemporary Art in Singapore. Xin will also be showing her work at START art Fair with A.I. (London) which opens to the public tomorrow.
FAD: Xin can you tell us about how you first began to make your work known to a wider audience. (If we could talk about formal and informal networks it would be great, e.g. how your college helped and how different informal ‘art scenes’ helped you.)
Xin: I first began showing work under the institutional support of my undergraduate alma mater, LASALLE. This was mostly in various school-related group shows, sometimes leading to exhibitions outside of the college and providing me with my first experiences of travelling to develop, make and put up work (Istanbul, New Zealand, Indonesia…). It was an important base for my understanding the process works go through to be presented to an audience; also the beginning of observing a wide spectrum of ways audiences interact with presented work. While I relied heavily on the institutional structure of the college in realising these first projects, culminating in a first solo exhibition in one of the gallery spaces of ICAS (Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore), I also began to be exposed to ways of working that grew out of more personal groups and informal communities.
It was the start of participating in and collaborating in various group events. Since then I’m increasingly aware of focusing on individuals- people to work with, communicate with and share with, who give rise to new ideas and projects.
What I’ve enjoyed and gained from most is learning that smaller groups of committed people can create the time and space in working together that allows for a more connected and truly collaborative experience. Even when working with established institutions, it is finding such personal dynamics that can transform a work experience, from detachment to rich engagement.
FAD: Xin, your work touches often on what we might call the ‘materiality’ of human experience – highlighting the surface, superficial way we engage with each other and the world by showing organic things represented in a very artificial way, like your work Copse. I’d love to ask you about how your observations of the art world have informed your work.
Xin: I often feel a pang of guilt at not keeping up more carefully with the current motions of the art world, but at the same time I recognise it as a coping mechanism for dealing with the vast information-overload that characterises almost every field of contemporary production. I secretly relate art world trends to those of seasonal fashion, a comparison that includes current mass-production modes for over-consumptive lifestyle models. I like blatant superficiality and decorative duplicity; it appears fresher and much more direct and honest than striving to create a presumptuous apparent depth of content. It’s as treacherous as the ‘no-make-up’ makeup philosophy: try too hard to look like you’re not trying at all, while all purporting to be appreciative of the ‘natural’. It’s these treacherous surfaces, signifiers of propriety and legitimacy and social approval, that fascinate me. They’re always in my mind while I’m working.
You can see WeiXin Chong work along with fellow artists Nicole Stott, Sarah Choo Jing, Fiona Struengmann, Johan Dehlin, and IDN on the A.I. stand at START art fair 10th-13th September 2015 Saatchi Art Gallery.