CLARA YEE

PEOPLEText: Haru Murayama

You were involved in the exhibition not only as an artist but also as an art director this time. What kind of things did you do?

As the Creative Director, I had to conceptualise the entire showcase and design the spatial layout and curate where each artist and work belongs so that the audience journey is designed and considered. This also involved designing the programmes of workshops, talks and performances to fit our Japanese audience and allow a greater understanding of the artists and their works. My team and I have to supervise everything from conceptualization, design to production!

This time, it exhibited a lot of collaboration work by artists of Japan and Singapore on the theme of “Hyper City”. What difference did you make between this exhibition and that in other countries? What was the intention of curating this event?

The theme Hyper City is unique to this leg of Singapore: Inside Out (SGIO) in Tokyo. SGIO started in 2015 as part of Singapore Tourism Board’s initiative to promote Singapore as a creative destination. Through SGIO we were allowed to stage conversational exhibitions that involved arts, design and culture.

The term “Hyper City” was loosely taken from Georg Simmel’s 1903 text Metropolis and the Mental Life, in which he talked about the effects of big city life on the mind of the individual. When we considered the relationship between Tokyo and Singapore, imperenance was a strong recurring theme. Japan and Singapore are both island countries, albeit of very different sizes. The confinement and limitations of this geographic feature influences the mentality of its people as well, both its positives and its negatives. Both cities are also highly developed and growing as a technologically advanced smart nation. How do we begin a conversation together using the common language of aesthetics?

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McQueen S/S 11, This is an Alexander McQueen© project. All images belong to them.

You have presented a lot of precise and fantastic drawing works using various media experimentally. When did you start making your own works? Were there any persons or events that have strongly influenced the creation of your work?

I started drawing from young but really grew my confidence in it when I studied in London. My tutor then at Central Saint Martins gave me a casual advice but it stuck in my mind. She cautioned me not to over-intellectualise my own drawings and to trust in them. Later on, I chanced upon Milton Glaser’s Drawing is Thinking in the school library, it was a thick bound book with pages after pages of colour pencil drawings of various clouds with no text, no words, no explanations. For a moment I suddenly realise I may have taken my own drawings and ability to draw for granted. In a society that is prone to treat image as the frivolous lesser cousin of serious, important and intelligent words, it is still a process I am going through to be truly comfortable with the language of images.

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ChildAid 2013, Stage Design: Clara Yee, This is a Singapore Press Holdings project.

During the creation of your own artworks, you have also expanded the range of activities widely such as corporate branding and stage design, directions of exhibitions in Singapore and overseas. What motivated you to do these activities?

I am are driven by the ongoing conversation in craft, materiality and convergent points of multiple sectors, and dislike being constrainted by the output. Fundamentally the materials I use are always the same; time, space, emotions and human.

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