Singapore Art Museum Kicks Off the New Year With Cosmicwander: Expedition By Choy Ka Fai

The exhibition opens at Tanjong Pagar Distripark and is one of several SAM offerings as part of Singapore Art Week 2021

  • 09:12 AM, 22 Jan, 2021
Photos Courtesy of SAM

(Singapore, 14 January 2021) Singapore Art Museum (SAM) presents CosmicWander: Expedition by Berlin-based Singaporean artist Choy Ka Fai from 16 January to 21 February 2021 at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. SAM’s first exhibition of the year kicks off its 2021 programme calendar, which will see the museum continue to actively offer contemporary art experiences across Singapore at satellite venues and on virtual platforms, while SAM’s buildings undergo redevelopment. Audiences can look forward to a line-up of exhibitions, public and education programmes, art residencies and community outreach initiatives island wide. 

CosmicWander: Expedition, which is also part of Singapore Art Week 2021, is a work-in-progress presentation of Choy’s ongoing research into the metaphysics of the human body, taking the body as a conceptual device for explorations into “post-human” choreographic ideas and alternative states of consciousness.

“CosmicWander: Expedition offers insight into Choy Ka Fai’s artistic process, highlighting his multi-faceted art practice, which situates itself at the intersection of dance, media art and performance. Ka Fai’s practice resonates with SAM’s commitment to present multi-disciplinary and innovative exhibitions that combine technology, multimedia and performance. As an experiential platform, CosmicWander: Expedition offers audiences an immersive art experience that Challenges and opens up new ways of how we perceive the world, an undertaking SAM is committed to as a contemporary art museum,” says Dr Eugene Tan, Director, Singapore Art Museum.

The exhibition is an investigation into the human desire for transcendence, through exploring shamanic dance cultures in Asia. Having ventured into the region in search of spectacular trance experiences, the artist has met over 50 shamans and filmed extraordinary dance rituals, from the wilderness of Siberia to the mythological practices in Java.

Set up as an experiential installation, it features the artist’s perspective on humanity’s attempt to connect, to question, and to perceive and interact with different states of reality. Stories and images composed from his invigorating encounters with “altered states” are weaved with the artist’s speculations, resulting in a choreographic sequence of moving images, text and spectacle, inspired by practices observed in Singapore, Indonesia, Siberia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Elaborating on his research and practice, Choy explains, “I imagine new futures of the body by appropriating technologies and narratives where lines between the spiritual and the secular, the virtual and the material, are blurred to project a new choreography of the body. CosmicWander: Expedition invites you to commune with us, and to think about our bodies and our spiritual states in these strange times.”

For CosmicWander: Expedition, Choy presents his project in three parts — an exhibition comprising video installations and a costume; a multimedia performance; and a lecture.

The Wanderer, a six-channel video installation, is an omnibus of supernatural dance experiences of contemporary shamanic practices in different parts of Asia, each corresponding to a natural element such as metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Getai of Virtual Gods, a fivechannel video installation, presents a fictional band of spiritual beings of various Asian descent dancing to hit songs and familiar tunes, in a show of cultural harmony. This alternative virtual concert interweaves the secular world of pop culture with speculations of future spiritual entertainment. Uncle Ho who can recall your future lives, is a hypothetical design of the Vietnamese Len Dong Shaman’s ritual costume, inspired by the revolutionary “Uncle Ho”, in anticipation for his imminent immortalisation as the newest God in the celestial system of the Dao Mau belief.

CosmicWander: Vogue is a tele-presence performance experiment based on Choy’s research into the possible co-existence of divine embodiments of different lineage within one spirit medium. The multicultural voguing party will be led by Norwegian-Thai dancer Sun Phitthaya Phaefuan, with music performed by local artists NADA (Rizman Putra and Safuan Johari) and Cheryl Ong. CosmicWander: Destination is a lecture by supernatural dance explorer and founder of CosmicWander, Choy Ka Fai, who will trace his creation of an agency which provides spiritual journeys and conceptual travel, and discuss his encounters of bodily transformation in trance.

In addition, the exhibition will feature materials from Choy’s CosmicWander research, such as video interviews and readings. Audiences can also tune in to a conversation with the artist and a panel of speakers titled CosmicWander: Transcendence, where they will discuss the desire for self-transcendence and the influence of digital technology on systems of belief.

CosmicWander: Expedition runs from 16 January to 21 February 2021 at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. It is presented as part of Singapore Art Week taking place from 22 to 30 January 2021, and supported by the National Arts Council Creation Grant and Goethe Institut. Programmes will be livestreamed on SAM’s Facebook and YouTube channels and a virtual gallery of the exhibition with excerpts from the video works will be available online on SAM's website from end January.

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