National Gallery Singapore invites visitors to a journey into emerging perspectives in Dalam Southeast Asia, its first-ever Project Space that features under-studied artists from the region, and innovative curatorial approaches in the presentation of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. Open to the public from 29 October, the space will launch with its debut show, The Tailors and the Mannequins: Chen Cheng Mei and You Khin, which will run till 10 April 2022. It is the first of four rotating, small-format exhibitions slated to roll out in the space approximately every six months till 2023.
The Malay word ‘dalam’ means ‘inside’. The word also carries esoteric undertones suggesting the ‘deep’, ‘within’ or ‘interior’. In this spirit, Dalam Southeast Asia extends an invitation to ‘go deeper’ into Southeast Asian art stories by providing visitors a glimpse into what it means to tell and experience the story of the region’s art. This goes against the traditional process of museums turning to art history’s established narratives to determine which artists and works to include in exhibitions. In contrast, Dalam Southeast Asia and its series of rotating exhibitions strategically flips this process by making brand-new curatorial research visible, thereby, creating room for thinking about display as a form of research. The public is invited to approach modern and contemporary art in the region not as a fixed, canonical narrative, but rather as one that is open to ongoing critique and revision.
The Tailors and the Mannequins: Chen Cheng Mei and You Khin is the first exhibition to be held in this project space. The show seeks to explore how the world – including Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and beyond – was imagined and encountered in Southeast Asia’s modern art, as well as how the category “Southeast Asia’s modern art” can be imagined given the varying histories of the region’s nations.
To find answers, the exhibition focuses on artists Chen Cheng Mei (陈城梅;b. 1927, Singapore; d. 2020, Singapore) and You Khin (យូឃិន;b. 1947, Cambodia; d. 2009, Thailand) – outliers in most accounts of art in Singapore, Cambodia, and Southeast Asia – to spotlight the period between the 1970s and the 2000s, when encounters with people and places in far-flung locations across the Global South were a recurring inspiration for both artists.
Venue: Dalam Southeast Asia, UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, Level 3, National Gallery Singapore
When: 29 Oct 2021 - 10 Apr 2022,
By: National Gallery Singapore