The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Museum, in partnership with curator Ms Susie Wong, will showcase works by six artists in a month-long exhibition. Titled [The Machine] Contemplating The Body, the exhibition invites the artists – a mix of established acts and promising up-and-comers – to think about SGH as a point of discussion for the ‘body’.
The artworks are displayed alongside The SGH Museum’s own collection of historical medical objects, interacting with the artefacts to create new dialogues that add to the Hospital’s own narrative.
“This exhibition marks our second installation in the marriage of our medical history and the creative disciplines. Together with the exhibition curator, Ms Susie Wong, we discussed at great length about how interesting it would be to have a group of artists interact within the confines of a medical museum. We are most pleased with the outcome of the entirety of the exhibition and the quality of each artist’s work complimented rather well amidst our medical objects that are on display”, said Ms Toby Huynh, Curator, The SGH Museum.
Artists Michael Lee and Tamares Goh consider SGH as a significant site imbued with stories as a microcosm of Singapore society. For the exhibition, Lee offers a past work – a painting depicting the floor plan of a now demolished hospital in Chicago – which draws reference to SGH’s own ongoing construction projects where old blocks give way to the new; while Goh’s site-specific installation of multiple soap dishes in The SGH Museum recalls Singapore’s experience during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARs) crisis in 2003, and how it has changed social habits, as reflected in the management of hospitals, in recent years.
The other artists – Melissa Tan, Ashley Yeo Yakka, Jiselle Magbanua and Sarani Gunawickrama – use SGH as a start-off point to challenge current concepts of what makes up a ‘body’. Both Tan and Yeo’s artworks try to make permanent the transient and intangible. Tan’s work is a sculpture made up of her own brainwave patterns etched into glass. And Yeo creates a real and permanent space for her private thoughts on re-imagined Nature with her detailed drawings of crystallised forms as they gradually transform into capillary networks of the body. Magbanua and Gunawickrama tackle a body’s corporeity in their installations. Gunawickrama’s layered sheets of drawings depict the belief of an immaterial soul living outside of its physical body; while Magbanua focuses on pain, using skin as the potent site of this infliction, to question the body as a defining indicator of Life.
Ms Susie Wong, curator of the exhibition, adds: “When I first visited The SGH Museum, I was intrigued by the numerous objects, documents and memorabilia. I thought it would be great if the works of artists can mingle with these artefacts. The artwork may change the way one perceives the museum’s objects, and conversely, the museum’s objects may lend meaning to the works of artists. The visitors to the Museum will not get only a story of SGH, but also will be asked to weigh in on so many topics about matters like the Body and medical science, or about the hospital as a structured space for treatment.”
[The Machine] Contemplating The Body runs from now to 30 June 2014 at The SGH Museum. Curator or artists tours will also be offered to visitors to gain further insight to the artworks.