Going Where?

Interview by Cassie Ang
Images courtesy of Wong Lip ChinRobert Zhao Renhui and ShanghART Singapore

As individuals and as a society, we often wonder about our past, question our identities and wrestle with the future. Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? Our past gives our identities context, which shape the way we see our future, either brimming with excitement or gripped by fear. These philosophical questions demand our attention, and perhaps desire answers, in order for us to successfully move forward.

Going Where?” is a multi-medium exhibition aiming to facilitate a dialogue between the artworks and their viewers, with this pivotal question as the central focus. Viewers are invited to carefully consider the future on a personal and national level. We speak to exhibiting artists, Wong Lip Chin and Robert Zhao Renhui, about their work for the exhibition and their thoughts on where Singapore is going.

Artist Wong Lip Chin on questioning our idea of a utopic Singapore.

wong lip chin artist

Tell us about your work. What was your inspiration?

A (long) bout of nostalgia and sudden discovery. I find myself in a predicament about Singapore’s amazing advancements. I respect our nation but I often wonder if we are the utopia that our forefathers envisioned us to be. In this piece, Lilou is looking through a figurative peephole, a simple image of a couple and the greenery. Liberation, I would say, is the core inspiration to Majulah Singapura: Journey to the Land of Milk and Honey.

Who exactly is Lilou? What does he mean to you?

Lilou is everywhere, floating around in my world. He’s a subversive hero that I desire in this hectic world, fighting justice like Iron Man or acting as our silent guardian like The Dark Knight. His presence in my works are important; he alleviates all the burning issues and acts as a satire in most works. Most importantly, he puts a smile on my face. Alas! Lilou is no longer alone. Lately, he’s found an acquaintance to join him in his quest as travelling down this long daunting journey is not going to be easy without company. She goes by the name of Oomoo.

Artist Robert Zhao on viewing the impact of city life on nature through art.

robert zhao renhui

Tell us about your work. What drew you to documenting this phenomenon?

Global warming is not an easy phenomenon to document. There is not a single picture that can represent global warming. Global warming is a concept. I will go as far as to say it can be a way of thinking about how we live in relation to nature. Global warming is also a very vague idea. What exactly does global warming do to us on a daily basis? It is important that we realise that we are creating enough impact on our surroundings to alter the way other species are behaving.

Other than highlighting the migration patterns of birds, what do you want your viewers to think about as they view your work?

The project is a desperate attempt to portray our impact on Earth’s fragile system. In this case, how we might be causing birds to die in the Arctic. This is something that is invisible and not so relevant in our life. We are causing birds to behave in a strange way. They are flying in the opposite direction when migrating, landing up thousands of miles from their intended destination and creating mass bird graves in the Arctic. I’m not sure what we can do with all that information. So what I did with the pinhole cameras on the birds was to create a representation that doesn’t try to tell you too much. I realise people don’t really like to talk about global warming in a normal conversation, it is really a conversation killer.

Read more in The U Press N˚3 (Singapore edition).