Suzann Victor is best known for compelling public artworks and installations that investigate, present and challenge ideas of disembodiment, the post-colonial and the environmental in response to space, context and architecture. Shown widely on the international circuit, her works have gained critical attention at events such as the 6th Havana Biennale (Cuba), 49th Venice Biennale (Italy), 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial (Australia), 6th Gwangju Biennale (Korea), 5th Seoul International Media Art Biennale (Korea), ZKM’s Thermocline of Art 2007 (Germany) and OÖ Kulturquartier’s Hohenrausch 2014 (Austria). Read our interview with her below…
Tell us about your involvement in this year’s M1 Fringe Festival?
This year’s M1 Fringe Festival’s theme pivots around my performance-installation Still Waters (between Estrangement and Reconciliation), which occurred as an act of social practice using water and the very architecture of the Singapore Art Museum to critique itself in the context of the state of the arts in Singapore at the time.
You explored religion in your, ‘See Like a Heretic’ exhibition in 2018. What are you exploring in 2019?
My aims for this year is to further develop the creative possibilities of the lenses which I’ve used to produce indoor and outdoor soft architecture but I will also be taking an in-depth look at work with celestial bodies such as the sun to create artworks. I think that the sun is the ultimate artist, in the way that it produces rainbows through a confluence of meteorological circumstances and physics of nature which is the most spectacular light show on earth.
How important is your audience’s understanding of the purpose of your work?
I think that reading and appreciating art is a co-creative event between the artist and her audience. It is important to provide as much freedom of interpretation as possible but having said that, I do think that the primary voice of the artist is an important element when thinking through the concerns of an artwork in its totality and in concert with many other considerations that may not be apparent from the start. I believe that complex and enduring artworks are capable of giving or revealing their conceptual or social contours and depths over time, so to me, art is not necessarily the capturing of a single moment. And for that matter, it is not a teaching lesson.
What does your artwork teach your audience about your culture and identity?
Those are very loaded terms, especially when not defined or contextualized. Generally, I think that this depends on the artwork, the artist or both. It could equally be about one’s identity and its roots as much as about the alienation of Self from identity. I think that we are all works-in-progress and in-process.
Inspiration and fascination changes. What have been constant sources of inspiration for you throughout your career?
Human beings, how they think and read the world or themselves as much as how they express themselves are very interesting to me as much as the material world – transforming the ordinary into extraordinary.
What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist?
The voice in your head that is only concerned with survival and thus, making you hyper self-conscious of yourself.
You are chiefly known as an installation artist but started as an abstract painter. Which other mediums are you keen to explore with your work?
I think that we are not as transparent to ourselves as we would like to think and so I have been contemplating seriously about the medium of writing as a form of unfolding to myself and my audience.
You have recently returned to oil painting after a 10 year break. What are you discovering/rediscovering through the medium?
Painting continues to be such a sensual medium for me so it is more attuned to a re-discovery of the mental and emotional landscape that one can be absorbed in.
Which up and coming Singaporean artists do you like?
I think that Melissa Tan’s practice is very interesting and I am sure that she will continue to grow in stature and depth growth continues.
What’s your favourite art space to visit in Singapore?
The Singapore Art Museum and the National Gallery of Singapore are not only great spaces for art but also to read the relationship between their architecture and the people who work or use these spaces.
How has Singapore’s art scene changed? How is it different from Australia’s where you now reside?
I think that the art scene is very much integrated into the urban environment and has become a thriving Industry with so much investment in the arts; from education to the production and infrastructure that is in place. I live in a world-heritage listed site and the sense of time and place and values of self and identity are quite different in degrees.
Singapore’s M1 Fringe Festival runs until 27th January. For more information, check out the lineup here . If you’d like to read more of our artist interviews, look here and more of our blogposts here.
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