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Contesting, Transferring and Translating 'Home':
Production and Practice of the Artists Village (1988-2000)
by PARK Sun-Min Melany
The Artists Village (TAV), one of Singapore's foremost avant-garde artist collectives of the period who operated largely from 1988 to 2000, embraced the rural lifestyle of the kampong (a village settlement) offered at Lorong Gambas, a spatial environment conducive for contesting the modern ideologies of home and domesticity espoused by the state. Since the portrayal of the modernized island-nation was a perennial predicament for the state, eradication of TAV's retrogressive habitation of a kampong was inevitable. The collective was subsequently evicted from its rural home in March 1990 and displaced to an urban context. Here, TAV engaged with urban sites which mirrored the collective's homeless disposition, whether in the liminal condition of the disused Hong Bee Warehouse located at Robertson Quay, or in the transient nature of civic monuments deemed quintessential to the identity formation of the nation-state, and its pursuance of 'home'.
TAV's archival material is uncovered, and a member of TAV is approached, not to induce another art historical account of the artists' practice and production, but to survey the socio-history of 'home' as it pertained to the collective's examined period of trajectory. This inquisition traverses TAV’s occupation of its inaugural home, and its artistic interventions of selected monumental and touristic icons in Singapore. The collective's ensuing critique of the state's spatial control, at times, aligned the two seemingly discordant parties — The Artists Village and the state — in the interpretation of 'home' both as domestic and national ideologies. This dissertation therein posits that in the involuntary translation of TAV's practice from the rural to the urban sites, 'home' surfaced as a destabilized physical construct and ideology, susceptible to eradication, displacement and (re)fabrication, as seen through the lens of the artist collective ad the state.
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