Liao Jiekai and Saskia Olde Wolbers | Telling Tales: Liao Jiekai and Saskia Olde Wolbers
Ota Fine Arts Shanghai is delighted to present "Telling Tales", the duo presentation of Singapore artist, Liao Jiekai, and Dutch artist, Saskia Olde Wolbers. Three video works, "Yes, These Eyes are the Windows" (2015) by Saskia Olde Wolbers will be shown alongside "Bukit Orang Salah" (2013) and "Silent Light" (2015) by Liao Jiekai.
The exhibition tells of stories that are not often told. Each artist utilizes distinctive, different approaches for their own story-telling. Wolbers fabricates model sets to create imaginative narrative, whereas Liao uses personal and archival footage and presents it in a documentary style. The contrast in the aesthetics of the two artists would be the highlight of this exhibition.
In "Yes, These Eyes are the Windows", Wolbers combines anecdotes and historical research, creating a colorful fictional narrative. The film focuses on Brixton, London in the 1970s. Featuring a house that was meant to be demolished as part of London's developmental plans, but was saved after a postman discovered that the artist, Vincent Van Gogh had lived there. The work was filmed in both the decaying house and in model sets that Wolbers created in her studio. In the film, the house takes on its own persona becoming the main character and narrator, telling of the tales and myths that surround Van Gough's period of residence from 1873 to 1874. Viewers sense the increasingly strong influence that Van Gough's ghostly presence had on the destiny of the humble house and its owners over the years.
In comparison, Liao reappropriates archival and personal footage to create two films that trace the path of history and that of untold personal memories. He explores the history of St. John's Island - an outlying island to the south of Singapore - in "Bukit Orang Salah". This island is known to be where Singapore's colonial founder Sir Stamford Raffles docked his ship upon arrival. Unbeknownst to many, the island has also been a quarantine center for immigrants and pilgrims returning from Mecca, a penal colony for political detainees and secret society leaders, and a sleep holiday resort. Thus, giving it its nickname 'Bukit Orang Salah' which translates loosely to 'Hill of Wrong People' or 'Hill of Misfits.'
Liao brings his viewers on a journey marked by out-of-bound markers and fences, deserted paths, barbed-wire structures and dilapidated housing, vestiges of the island's history are scattered around the land. One cannot help but wonder about the many untold tales surrounding the site. The island becomes a site of and for reflection, prompting questions about history, heritage and identity.
In Silent Light, an elderly female voice narrates her memories of growing up in a Singapore that no longer exists, the passing of a generation and her acceptance of death. Her narration interweaves with scenes of mechanical fans that rotate to the rhythm of passing wind, footage of a mourner accompanied by restless phantoms and a lonely moth perched upon the yellow funeral tent; together they welcome the silent light of daybreak.
Ota Fine Arts Shanghai invites viewers to a unique moving image journey with Saskia Olde Wolbers and Liao Jiekai through "Telling Tales".