From top: Light in Space 1, Space 4 (with Willie's video), Space 3, Space 1 , & Space 2 (with Willie's video)
ARTISTS: Willie Koh (Singapore) & Ling-Nah Tang (Singapore)
SIZE OF WORK: Dimensions variable. The work is in a series of four inter-connected rooms
WHERE: South Beach Development, Singapore Biennale 2008
WHAT: It is a site-specific video and drawing installation collaborative work. It deals with concepts of seeing, remembering, forgetting and re-countering through the abstraction, re-presentation and manipulation of architectural spaces and elements. It is also a metaphor for human relations where one meets another person, gets to know him/her, but then leaves each other, and when they meet again, they may have to learn about the person all over again (familiar but yet not so familiar any more).
The title of our work—Everytime We Say Goodbye好久不見—carries with it a lot of our ideas and intentions. We purposely chose an overly sentimental title, laden with meanings, stories and emotions, and suggestive of tremendous human presence.
This serves two purposes. Firstly, it acts as a counterpoint to both our works (which are visually devoid of human figures/presence). This is akin to the tensions we wanted in the relationship between our two mediums.
Secondly, it serves as either the entry point or conclusion (depending on which comes first—title or works) to our works. In a way, we are implicating the audience to invest their emotions through the title, and then compounding it with our works.
Note that the Chinese title is not a direct translation. Whilst the English title speaks of farewells and separations, the Chinese title alludes to re-encountering, reunion. If anything, the Chinese title ‘consoles’ the English counterpart.
In addition, as this is our first formal collaboration, we were keen to explore how drawing and film could work together, interact and influence each other, and how they eventually would be shown together in the same space.
We were very much inspired by a particular essay by John Berger. Berger talks about the differences and relationship between a painting/drawing and film. While a drawing is about the ‘present and the now’, always reminding the viewer the concreteness of the present moment (one can always see or even feel the texture of the paint, paper etc); film is about the going-away, it is about ‘movement’, transporting the audience out of the theatre to an elsewhere, to another place, time, and dreams.
We love the tension inherent in this relationship between drawing and film—the pull of the drawing into the material space versus the push of the film into imaginary external spaces. We want to see how these two experiences (of looking at Ling Nah’s drawings and watching Willie’s film) would coalesce and interact in the same space.
In terms of working approaches, we had a lot of discussions before starting work on-site. This pre-working stage includes a selection of the site at South Beach Development. We agreed conceptually and on a larger picture the direction we are heading, the mood and tone we want, the elements we want or do not want.
While Ling Nah draws on-site, Willie visited the site several times to feel and engage with the space and Ling Nah’s drawing. These visits were also critical in how Willie would imagine his film would sit side-by-side Ling Nah’s drawing. In a way, her drawing and the overall atmosphere created has an effect on how Willie edited and paced his eventual film. The film would ‘breathe’ in the same manner as the drawing. Willie also works with a photographer who took still digital photographs that later constitute scenes in his film.