COLLABORATION IN ARTIST BOOKS
Singapore: WORM, 2007. Co-edited with Tang Ling Nah.
MY ARTISTS by Tang Ling Nah is the first artist book published under WORM, the publishing arm of Singapore-based art and design collaborative FARM. Tang’s book explores the relationship between the curator and the artist, and forms part of her exhibit in a group show with similar concerns titled Whose Playground Is This?, curated by writer David Chew for Plastique Kinetic Worms.
In this instance, Tang, who is known for her expansive and atmospheric charcoal drawings, has decided to work with text. Inviting opinions from fellow artists, this book documents contemporary Singapore artists’ views about art-making, curating, exhibiting, and negotiating these practices to mediate between private passions and public demands. It also collects a series of unedited email conversations between Tang and her artists.
As one of three artists showing in the group exhibition, Tang has unusually relinquished the opportunity to show her own work. Instead, she has taken on the role of a curator. Tang’s brief to her artists is extraordinary in that it is not their works, which are shown. Rather, the artists present their selves through a photographic image, their curriculum vitae and a statement, which articulates their individual positions in relation to a curator, or perhaps in this case, to Tang herself. In this situation, Tang simultaneously assumes the complex triadic position of artist, curator and friend. These three roles are never seamless, and at times, appear to contradict each other.
Significantly, or at least in the production of this work, it is the limits of friendship, which has been repeatedly tested in relation to art practice. While friendship was key to Tang’s selection of artists, she initially did not see it as fundamentally influencing the curator-artist equation. The following pages of MY ARTISTS may prove otherwise, reminding us that making art is an activity, which is inextricable from our relationships in everyday life.