Perfect partners

Perfect partners
Grey Projects' founding artist Jason Wee (right) and National University of Singapore Museum assistant curator Kenneth Tay have teamed up to put on the exhibition, When You Get Closer To The Heart, You May Find Cracks... This book launch at the Bookhaven store in NUS University Town saw two students perform in a skit about the late China-born, Singapore-based musician Lucien Wang. The book was a result of a tie-up between the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the National University of Singapore's University Scholar's Programme (left).

SINGAPORE - Are two heads always better than one? It would seem so, in the case of independent visual arts institutions.

Collaborations between such entities allow these smaller, non-state-run initiatives to pool resources, expertise and influences to create the space for them to better pursue their common goals.

These independent players may take the form of artist-run spaces or exhibition and research centres linked to tertiary institutions, but they all occupy a space between the dominant state-run or state-funded museums and the large swathe of commercial galleries.

While state institutions may be limited in their educational role by having to serve a wide audience, commercial galleries are in the business for profit.

Independent players say they need to pool resources to offer alternatives to the well-trodden circuit of exhibitions, art fairs and talks in Singapore's busy visual arts scene. And what they offer is discursive practice and scholarship that sometimes can be esoteric, a little off the wall and hard-hitting.

Mr Jason Wee, founding artist of Grey Projects, an artist-run platform for publication, curation and exchange, laments: "A scene that comprises art fairs, galleries and state museums is not a scene."

There are two such ongoing collaborations. Grey Projects and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Museum are co-curating an exhibition about the origins of wood in South-east Asia.

The other partnership has cultural and social enterprise Post-Museum working with the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) - an exhibition and research offshoot of the Nanyang Technological University, housed at the Gillman Barracks gallery cluster - to run Post- PopUp, a project to explore space and the kind of shape that a space can take.

Both partnerships are project-based and short-term, lasting only several months each.

Another art institution which has done such collaborations is the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, which has partnered the NUS' University Scholar's Programme to produce a book about the life of the late China-born, Singapore- based musician Lucien Wang.

Ms Bridget Tracy Tan, director of the academy's Institute of Southeast Asian Arts & Art Galleries, says its ties with local and overseas partners will "enhance the ability to create portals of enrichment and research-led practice".

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