SOOKOON ANG – A force to be reckoned with
Born and raised in Singapore, Sookoon Ang studied and graduated with honours at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore in ‘99 and the School of Visual Arts in New York in ‘02. The multi-media artist has been participating in international exhibitions since 2003, had five solo shows and has attended residencies in the US, Korea, China, the Netherlands and Singapore.
In this year’s Art Stage Singapore, Sookoon is represented by FOST GALLERY in “Project Stage,” a curated platform dedicated to young cutting edge artists and interesting galleries emerging on the Asia Pacific art scene. The 33 projects will create star opportunities for discovering the next big emerging artists and galleries from the region.
And, with Art Stage Singapore coming up this month, artBahrain thought it might be interesting to catch up with Sookoon as she shines ever brighter in Asia’s contemporary art scene. Here is what she had to say…
Artbahrain: Why are you an artist? Can you remember your first encounter with art?
Sookoon Ang:Making art is the only thing I found myself willing to apply to. Very often, I wish it not the case because art, as a career, is heartwrenching.
There wasn’t a first encounter, but more like a gradual realization of art.
AB: You don’t seem to have a specific subject matter that defines you as an artist, if you were to describe your art for someone who had not seen anything created by you, how would you describe your art?
SA: Yes, I don’t really have a specific subject matter. Things I read in books, listened on radio, saw online and certainly my experiences inform my work. The thread that ties my work is suggestion of alternative perceptions & alternative universes. Jeanette Winterson wrote, “Against daily insignificance art recalls to us possible sublimity. It cannot do this if it is merely a reflection of actual life. Our real lives are elsewhere. Art finds them.” My job is to recall possible sublimity.
AB: You’re a young successful artist today, can you tell us a bit about your history in terms of art?
SA: I was a teen slacker with delusions of grandeur. Art took away the slack and augmented the delusions.
AB: What is the most challenging aspect of being a young professional artist?
SA: Keeping it real—focusing on artmaking rather than art profession, not easy when there’s weighing things like… living expenses.
AB: Has living and studying in New York changed the way you make art?
SA: Yes, it brought me out of my shell and further augmented my delusions of grandeur. It showed me a far point to aim in artmaking.
AB: Majority of your subjects are suggestive of preexisting tropes, shared visual memories and impressions. Depending on the medium, they are well and neatly composed, directed or organized, what role does memory play in your work?
SA: Experience is more interesting to me than memory. Through stories I hear or read or through personal experiences, I make visual representations.
AB: You’ve been participating in international events and exhibitions, how do you approach the expectations involved in representing Singapore as an artist?
SA: I can give a Miss Universe pageant answer but I’ll spare the readers.
AB: Has your popularity added more pressure when you approach a project?
SA: Not at all. I don’t know how to live up to expectations or response effectively to pressure. Ask my mother.
AB: Going through the collection that you’ll be exhibiting in Art Stage Singapore, Your Love Is like a Chunk of Gold – an elitist cum populist series of objects – fascinates me most. How did you come up with the idea? Do these works mediate intention versus production?
SA: I wanted to work with crystal for some time, knowing that they can be grown. It was a long period of going through different material in my head to marry crystal with until bread came up. The meanings of the work manifested after its conception and grew more potent as they sit in view. It gradually and steadily secured its purpose for existence.
AB: One cannot look at Weighs like mine- Four drawers, in silence; they are so charged with collective and personal memories, what kind of response did you get from viewers?
SA: I don’t remember. It was last shown in 2006. I would like to think ‘Transportation’ because it’s what I meant Weighs Like Mine to be— transportation to different realms, particularly that of the surreal and parallel universe.
AB: What is fascinating about Art Stage Singapore for you personally?
SA: It’s a new opportunity in Singapore for young Singaporean artists to show and sell our works.
AB: Finally, what projects are you working on? Any exhibitions in the near future?
SA: Right now, I’m trying to realize a photography and performance project on teenage girls. Halflings (half child, half adult) interest me as a subject matter these days. They are vulnerable yet defiant, gullible yet jaded, closed and unbridled beings.
A group exhibition in Feb at ICA gallery in Singapore. ab
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