Herbal drink Jamu featured in exhibition showcasing emerging artists

Performance artist Lina Adam (left, in blue) will demonstrate the making of jamu in her work titled Herbal Healing; French artist Nicolas Momein's Edicules Laines (Wooled Aedicules, above) features sculptures made of forgotten materials.
Performance artist Lina Adam (left, in blue) will demonstrate the making of jamu in her work titled Herbal Healing; French artist Nicolas Momein's Edicules Laines (Wooled Aedicules, above) features sculptures made of forgotten materials.PHOTOS: TRUPHOTOS, BLAISE ADILON
Performance artist Lina Adam (left, in blue) will demonstrate the making of jamu in her work titled Herbal Healing; French artist Nicolas Momein's Edicules Laines (Wooled Aedicules, above) features sculptures made of forgotten materials.
Performance artist Lina Adam (left, in blue) will demonstrate the making of jamu in her work titled Herbal Healing; French artist Nicolas Momein's Edicules Laines (Wooled Aedicules, above) features sculptures made of forgotten materials.PHOTOS: TRUPHOTOS, BLAISE ADILON

Indonesian herbal drink is part of the eclectic works on show at exhibition featuring emerging artists

A performance centred on the traditional Indonesian herbal drink of jamu, a deconstructed hot air balloon and a metal bin sliced in two and separated by glass are among the eclectic works of an upcoming exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

Titled Rendez-vous, the exhibition is part of a 13-year-old annual platform dedicated to showing artworks by emerging artists from around the world. It is organised by four institutions in Lyon, France: the Biennial of Lyon; Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Villeurbanne/Rhone-Alpes; and the National School of Fine Arts in Lyon.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore is located within the premises of Lasalle College of the Arts and the exhibition runs from Friday to Aug 2.

This effort represents a continuation of a whole slate of Singapore-France cultural exchanges taking place this year, which marks 50 years of bilateral ties between the two countries.

It is not the first time Rendez-vous is being presented outside Lyon - Shanghai and South Africa have hosted the show in previous iterations - but this Singapore show represents the first time curators from the host country are selecting some of the artists.

Of the 25 artists in the show, the Lyon institutions selected 10 who all hail from Rhone-Alpes, a region in the east of France. Another 10 international artists have been nominated by curators from international biennales, including the Biennale of Sydney, Istanbul Biennale and Los Angeles Biennial.

These 20 artists were previously shown as part of Rendez-vous 2013 in Lyon.

Returning to home ground from the showing in Lyon is Singapore artist Charles Lim, who was nominated by Mr Tan Boon Hui, one of the curators for the Singapore Biennale 2013 and National Heritage Board's assistant chief executive. Lim is making waves as the sole artist in Singapore's showing at the Venice Biennale with his work, Sea State.

In addition, five Singapore artists have been picked by the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore for Rendez-vous - film-maker Sherman Ong, performance artist Lina Adam, painter Ruben Pang and installation artists Chun Kaifeng and Joo Choon Lin.

Ong, 43, is presenting three dance films which he made between 2003 and 2011. The three films focus separately on Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. He says: "It's the first time I'm presenting them as a trilogy. They deal with the idea of the Nusantara, or the Malay Archipelago - something central to my practice - told through dance and intimate stories."

The rest of the local artists are presenting new works. These were not made in response to any curatorial theme, but based on the artists' current concerns.

For example, Joo continues her Intestinology Series, which explores the issue of consumerism. Her work will include screenings of an MTV-like video that appears to extol the virtues of a bottle of ketchup.

Says Ms Marilou Launeville, assistant curator from the Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon, of the collaboration between the two countries: "It adds something to the show. For us and for the artists, it's a chance to have contact with Singaporean artists and to present Rhone-Alpes artists here."

Ms Bala Starr, director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, adds that the inclusion of the five Singapore artists elevates the show from being just another imported offering from overseas. "Without that, we would be taking a packaged exhibition that would come without context and without roots. We want to build roots for the project in Singapore."

The exhibition's opening this Friday promises loads of local flavour.

Lina will demonstrate how to make jamu for her performance titled Herbal Healing and offer personal stories related to its medicinal properties; while characters related to Joo's work will walk among guests, trying to sell them ketchup.

For French artist Nicolas Momein, 35, holding the exhibition in Singapore presented an interesting problem.

A material he had used to create a kind of industrial cotton wool-like effect for his large-scale installations in France, rockwool, was not available here.

Instead, he had to use a locally available variant, vermiculite, a variation of concrete used for fireproofing, and polyurethane foam, used for insulation, to achieve a similar effect. His piece, titled Edicules Laines (Wooled Aedicules), comprises large-sized geometric sculptures constructed using processes or materials that are often forgotten or not usually seen, such as those used in building construction.

Ahead of the installation which takes place today, a sweetly nervous Momein, who had never visited Asia before, told Life! last week: "I have to make adjustments to my work. I am a little bit afraid, but excited too. I will leave it to chance."

nabilahs@sph.com.sg