Dual City Sessions is a collaborative exhibit which encompasses 28 artists, 14 from Tokyo and 14 Singapore, and was held at the Giuliano Fujiwara boutique on October 30th until November 4th, 2007. The exhibit will travel to Singapore for the 2nd annual Singapore Design Festival from November 27th to December 8th- mark your calendars.

Conceptualized and curated by Felix Ng, founder of the Singapore-based design studio SILNT, Dual City Sessions is rooted with the intention to create a platform for international collaboration and cross pollination between artists from diverse and creative disciplines as well as backgrounds. Overall, the exhibit serves to highlight the emerging and innovative practitioners in the fields of art, fashion, music and design.

For this exhibit, the first of its series, Tokyo-based conceptual unit Null, collaborated with artists from Singapore to initiate a new kind of dialog, one that revolved around the theme, “to subtract is to add,” or “-=+.” Each artist worked around axes of nature, architecture as well as other items symbolic of their respective nations. Of course, the two different urban environments incubated a myriad of distinctions between the two groups of artists. SHIFT took the opportunity to sit down with curator Felix Ng in Tokyo to find out more about this visually appealing exhibit:

Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore

So where did the idea for the flowing canvases come from?

Well, its actually metallic. Its a flowing thin iron sheet bent into the shape of a wave. It was designed by Shuzo Okabe of the upsetters architects – an amazing architecture firm in Tokyo. So, Okabe came up with the idea. I think its representative of the artworks and message of this collaborative exhibit- its a kinesis, a fluid energy of movement, like a wave, of all the artists from each country together fused into a static piece.

Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore

Its really nice. So how did this collaboration start between Tokyo and Singapore?

I was asking Shun Kawakami if he wanted to do something for the Singapore Design Festival, so we thought about doing an installation of new artists. Then I said, how about I go find the same number of artists as you have in your collective and lets create two pieces that are somewhat identical. Kawakami agreed and then we decided to have the exhibition here for Design Tide 2007 and then to the Singapore Design Festival.

It looks like there are some western names involved here too…

Yeah, Christopher Lee is an established creative director and he runs a well-known design studio in Singapore called The Asylum. Tom Merckx is from Belgium and a couple of years ago he was involved with an exhibition he put on entitled Use Again. He was then headhunted and brought to Singapore to run the design firm, Equus. Daniel Koh is a predominantly print and media designer and Steve Lawler, is an interactive designer based in Singapore. It’s a very interesting mix of people.

Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore

Looking at all these artists representing Singapore, is this a good snap shot to take of the artistic community in Singapore?

Yes, it is. These people have been around for a long time, they have been doing ground breaking works and are quite established. We are working to push more and more Singaporean artists and designers alike overseas to exhibit their works through other events and parties. Dual City Sessions is quite an independent exhibition, just Null and SILNT working together.

Do you see a particular theme uniting the Singaporean artists and Japanese artists, respectively?

Yeah. These are the original artists that have been in null for the last 3 installments of this project. Its the same as last year. But for the Singaporean artists, my criteria for inviting them was based on the their work and reputation. I wanted artists who were not trendy but rather have a very good sense of subtly in their work. Very strong and subtle, not pop.

So its not a coincidence that everything is in black and white….

[laughs] Well, there was a brief, and the brief was that we were going to try to keep it monochrome and basically, each of the artists were to choose just two elements to create their artwork. For example, Steve Lawler‘s piece, its a map of Singapore but he used different tones represent the religious make up of the country as a way to form the shape of the island.

Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore

Ah I see…So within the exhibition’s theme there is still a lot of diversity…

Yeah, its a good balance between the two groups. Everyone is established and at the same time, doing their own thing independently.

Hanson Ho is a graphic designer and his work sprouted from the two elements of whole lines and shadow, it was really minimal while ND Chow, is a photographer who focuses on human and portrait photography.

Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore

And there are musicians too – Mei, the Analog Girl, was here in Tokyo performing a few weeks ago at Cafe Pause.

If you look at the work I contributed, I used a Confucian phrase to show that as a man gets older, into his 30s, 40s and up to 60s and 70s HE BECOMES WISER. To illustrate that point, I made the Chinese Kanji characters with actual hair which gray as the age increases. If you are familiar with Singaporean politics, Tom Merckx, did a piece on politics and censorship in Singapore.
Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore

Ok, and what about the Japanese side…I think Shun Kawakami’s typography of the Null logo perfectly sums up the balance of the traditional and the modern- a seriffed font and the bonsai branching extending outward…

Right, you can see that Null artists work to use modern techniques and modern ideas to explore traditional Japanese aesthetics. Takashi Kamada used characters from the Japanese syllabic alphabet and concentrated them into arcs to make a scaling print of concentric circles, suggestive of traditional Japanese calligraphy.

Interesting indeed. Thanks so much Felix Ng for taking time to show us around the exhibit! We are all looking forward to November 27 at the Singapore Design Festival !

Dual City Sessions: Tokyo and Singapore
Date: October 30th until November 4th, 2007
Place: Giuliano Fujiwara
Address: Hoei building 1F, 6-8-18 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 03 5469 5558 (Store)
Tel: +81 03 5469 5606 (Office)

Dual City Sessions is:
Japan: Akira Ozawa, Hideki Owa, Hikaru Koike, Hiroshi Sato, Kei Kawakami, Keigo Anan, Koji Nishida, Momoko Kawakami, Shun Kawakami, , Tadashi Ura, Taisuke Koyama, Takashi Kamada, Yu-ki Sakurai, +39/K. Tozaki
Singapore: Felix Ng, Hjgher, Grace Tan, Hanson Ho, Tom Merckx, Daniel Koh, Choy Ka Fai, Christopher Lee, &Larry, JunkFlea, Steve Lawler, Mei (the analog girl), Shu, ND Chow

Text: Vicente Gutierrez

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