Chia Weng Boon Thesis Statements
Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, Head of Geotechnics and Structures (GEST)
Laurea (equivalent to MEng, Politecnico di Milano, It), MSc (Chalmers University, Sweden), PhD (Politecnico di Milano), CEng FICE FGS, Eur Ing
Stefano currently leads the GEST Group. His first degree was in Structural Engineering followed by a doctorate in Geotechnical Engineering. Prior to being appointed at Newcastle University he was Lecturer at the University of Oxford (2008-11) and Associate Professor at University of Warwick (2011-16).
- Full Member of the EPSRC College of Reviewers
- Editorial Board Member of Engineering Geology
- Editorial Board Member of Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
- Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (FICE).
- Fellow of the Geological Society of London (FGS).
- Member of International Technical Committee TC105 of the ISSMGE
- Member of International Technical Committee TC208 of the ISSMGE
- Member of the British Geotechnical Association.
- European Engineer, FEANI member.
- Sept 2016 - Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Newcastle University
- Feb 2016 to Aug 2016: full Professor at University of Warwick
- October 2011 to Feb 2016: Associate Professor at University of Warwick.
- October 2008 to September 2011: Departmental Lecturer at University of Oxford and Tutor at St Anne's College .
- November 2006 to October 2008: Post-doctoral Research Fellow (grade 7) in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, UK).
- May 2005 to October 2006: senior engineer at SnamReteGas (ENI group, national oil and gas company), San Donato Milanese (Italy)
- April 2004 to April 2005: technical office responsible at GL Locatelli Srl, Turate (Italy)
- March 2001 to April 2004: PhD student at Politecnico di Milano, Milano (Italy).
- 2004: PhD in Geotechnical Engineering, with distinction, Politecnico di Milano, Milano (Italy)
- 2001: M.Sc. in Structural Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Goteborg (Sweden)
- 2000: Laurea (MEng) in Civil Engineering (5 years degree), summa cum laude, Politecnico di Milano, Milano (Italy)
Scopus author profile
Guest Editor of the following Special Issues:
- 'Monitoring, physical and numerical modeling of landslides and debris flows' in Engineering Geology (2017), volume 219;
- 'Landslides and Geophysical Investigations: Advantages and Limitations' in International Journal of Geophysics forthcoming (2018);
- 'Mega Engineering Projects in Challenging Geological Environments – A Modern Perspective' in Engineering Geology forthcoming (2018);
The bulk of my research is about reducing the impact of landslides and slope instabilities on engineering infrastructure and the built environment. The increasing threat of natural hazards due to the expanding size of cities, growing use of infrastructure, and the effect of increased climatic variations means that the economic losses induced by geohazards keep increasing so engineering solutions able to provide a step change in the way we tackle landslides are urgently needed.
My main research interests are as follows:
- Numerical and experimental modelling of the initiation of landslides and subsequent debris flows under various load and climatic conditions.
- Development of analytical solutions based on limit analysis to assess the stability of slopes
- Development of the Discrete Element Method for non -spherical particles (e.g. sand grains) and the simulation of engineering problems in rock mechanics such as tunnelling in jointed rock masses and the stability of rock slopes
- Investigation of the behaviour of sands and cemented soils (e.g. lunar soil,
methane hydrate bearing sands) via the Discrete Element Method for constitutive modelling purposes.
My research group
PhD candidates are welcome to contact me to apply for a thesis in one of the mentioned areas or to propose their own research theme.
Current PhD students
The list of my current PhD students is in chronological order of start date. Links to their individual profiles are provided:
Past PhD students
Graduated in 2013, Chia Weng Boon has been awarded the Rocha Medal 2016 for the best PhD thesis in Rock Mechanics. This award is conferred to the best PhD selected among a worldwide pool of theses. Further details are available at https://www.isrm.net/fotos/noticias/NewsReleaseCouncil15_A4.pdf. Currently Dr Boon is working in a private company in Singapore as specialist geotechnical engineer for projects involving undeground excavations in rock.
Graduated in 2013, Chiara Modenese currently works at Atkins Global.
Graduated in 2014, Tao Zhao currently is an Associate Professor at Sichuan University (Chengdu, China).
Graduated in March 2015, Kovthaman Murugaratnam currently works in industry.
Graduated in July 2015, Giulia Macaro currently works at Atkins Global.
Graduated in May 2016 Weigao Wu currently works as geotechnical engineer in China.
Graduated in January 2017, Chrysoula Vulgari currently works at Atkins as geotechnical engineer.
Graduated in August 2017, Akram Abd currently is a lecturer at Tikrit University (Tikrit, Iraq).
Dr Prashanth Vangla from IISC (Bangalore, India)
Dr Anitha Kumari from IISC (Bangalore, India)
Dr Giuseppe Dattola is now working at Universita Milano Bicocca.
Dr Irene Redaelli is now a Post-doc at Politecnico di Milano.
April 2018 - March 2022:
Co-I (Newcastle lead) in “towards geoHazards rEsilient infRastruCtUre under changing cLimatES” EU H2020 RISE. Total sum of the project 2.372 € million (EU funds for €2,016,000). The academic partners involved in the exchange are: University of Warwick (coordinator), Newcastle University, RWTH-Aachen University (Aachen, Germany), University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences (Vienna, Austria), Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica di Torino (Turin, Italy), Eurac Research centre (Bolzano, Italy), Arup Italia Srl (Milan, Italy), Zhejiang University (Hangzhou, China), University of San Simon (Cochabamba, Bolivia), Nazerbayev University (Astana, Kazakstan), The University of Newcastle (Newcastle, Australia).
April 2015 - March 2019:
Coordinator for “Geohazards risk assessment, mitigation and prevention” EU H2020 RISE. Total sum of the project 2.147 € million (EU funds for €1,804,500). The academic partners involved in the exchange are: University of Warwick, Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (Grenoble, France), Universidad Politecnica Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences (Vienna, Austria), Applied Seismology Consultants (Shrewsbury, UK), University of San Simon (Cochabamba, Bolivia), University of San Juan (Buonos Aires, Argentina), Tongji University (Shanghai, China), Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia, US), Nazerbayev University (Astana, Kazakstan).
February 2012 - January 2016:
Coordinator for “Geohazards and geomechanics” EU FP7 IRSES (International Researchers staff Exchange Scheme). Total sum awarded: €438,900. The academic partners involved in the exchange are: University of Warwick, Universidad Politecnica Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (Grenoble, France), Universita Milano Bicocca (Milano, Italy), University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, UK), Tongji University (Shanghai, China), Tsinghua University (Bejing, China), Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore, India).
- CEG3201 - Geotechnical Design (10 credits)
I contribute to teach:
- CEG3003 - Engineering Ethics and Sustainability (10 credits)
- CEG8099 Investigative Research Project (MEng)
- CEG8208 - Geotechnical Design (20 credits)
- CEG8296 Project and Dissertation in Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology (MSc)
- Abd A, Utili S. Design of geosynthetic - reinforced slopes in cohesive backfills. Geotextiles and Geomembranes 2017, 45(6), 627-641.
- Zhao T, Crosta GB, Utili S, De Blasio FV. Investigation of rock fragmentation during rockfalls and rock avalanches via 3-D discrete element analyses. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 2017, 122(3), 678-695.
- Utili S, Crosta GB, Take A. Preface of Special Issue on ‘Monitoring, physical and numerical modeling of landslides and debris flows’. Engineering Geology 2017, 219, 1-3.
- Voulgari C, Utili S. A general analytical solution for the evolution of cliffs accounting for strength degradation, seismic action, formation of tension cracks and seepage. Engineering Geology 2017, 219, 92-106.
- Wang HN, Zheng GS, Utili S, Jiang MJ, Wu L. Analytical solutions of stresses and displacements for deeply buried twin tunnels in viscoelastic rock. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 2017, 93, 13-29.
- Jiang MJ, Shen Z, Utili S. DEM modeling of cantilever retaining excavations: implications for lunar constructions. Engineering Computations 2016, 33(2), 366-394.
- Utili S, Abd A. On the stability of intact and fissured slopes subject to seismic action. International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics 2016, 40(5), 785-806.
- Zhao T, Utili S, Crosta GB. Rockslide and impulse wave modelling in the Vajont reservoir by DEM-CFD analyses. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 2016, 49, 2437-2456.
- Utili S, Zhao T, Houlsby GT. 3D DEM investigation of granular column collapse: Evaluation of debris motion and its Destructive Power. Engineering Geology 2015, 186, 3-16.
- Murugaratnam K, Utili S, Petrinic N. A combined DEM-FEM numerical method for Shot Peening parameter optimisation. Advances in Engineering Software 2015, 79, 13-26.
- Boon CW, Houlsby GT, Utili S. A new rock slicing algorithm based on linear programming. Computers and geotechnics 2015, 65, 12–29.
- Wang HN, Utili S, Jiang MJ, He P. Analytical solutions for tunnels of elliptical cross-section in rheological rock accounting for sequential excavation. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 2015, 48(5), 1997–2029.
- Boon CW, Houlsby GT, Utili S. DEM modelling of a jointed rock beam with emphasis on interface properties. Geotechnique Letters 2015, 5, 49-55.
- Boon CW, Houlsby GT, Utili S. Designing tunnel support in jointed rock masses via the DEM. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 2015, 48, 603-632.
- Jiang MJ, Zhu F, Utili S. Investigation into the effect of backpressure on the mechanical behavior of methane-hydrate-bearing sediments via DEM analyses. Computers and Geotechnics 2015, 69, 551-563.
- Utili S, Castellanza R, Galli A, Sentenac P. Novel approach for health monitoring of earthen embankments. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering 2015, 141(3), 04014111.
- Jiang MJ, Zhu F, Liu F, Utili S. A bond contact model for methane hydrate-bearing sediments with interparticle cementation. International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics 2014, 38(17), 1823-1854.
- Zhao T, Houlsby GT, Utili S. Investigation of granular batch sedimentation via DEM-CFD coupling. Granular Matter 2014, 16, 921-932.
- Boon CW, Houlsby GT, Utili S. New insights into the 1963 Vajont slide using 2D and 3D distinct-element method analyses. Geotechnique 2014, 64(10), 800-816.
- Wang HN, Utili S, Jiang MJ. An analytical approach for the sequential excavation of axisymmetric lined tunnels in viscoelastic rock. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 2014, 68, 85-106.
- Crosta GB, Utili S, De Blasio FV, Castellanza R. Reassessing rock mass properties and slope instability triggering conditions in Valles Marineris, Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 2014, 388, 329-342.
- Abd AH, Utili S. Geosynthetic-Reinforced Slopes in Cohesive Soils Subject to Seismic Action. In: Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference Transportation Geotechnics and Geoecology (TGG-2017). 2017, Saint Petersburg, Russia: Elsevier Ltd.
- Utili S, Castellanza R, Galli A, Sentenac P. Non-invasive Portable Geophysical Tool to Monitor Water Content in Earthen Long Linear Infrastructures. In: Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference Transportation Geotechnics and Geoecology (TGG-2017). 2017, Saint Petersburg, Russia: Elsevier Ltd.
- Utili S. Discussion of "Stability assessment of slopes with cracks using limit analysis". Canadian Geotechnical Journal 2014, 51(7), 822-825.
- Utili S, Zhao T. Coupled distinct element method computational fluid dynamics analyses for reservoir landslide modelling. In: 5th International Conference on Particle-Based Methods - Fundamentals and Applications (PARTICLES 2017). 2017, Barcelona, Spain: International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering.
As part of the requirements of the MA Asian Art Histories Programme, students are required to write a 15,000 word thesis. As Asian modern and contemporary art histories are an emerging field, especially within the Southeast Asian region, the theses written by students in the programme make an original and significant contribution to the discourse of the field. If you would like to read the full thesis, please use this form to contact us, and we will get back to you as soon as possible .
Name: Candice Li
Thesis Title: The significance of independent arts spaces on contemporary art practice in Singapore
This thesis is a study on the significance of independent art spaces for the development of contemporary art practice in Singapore. It is in response to the demise of these spaces despite the surge of activity within the arts scene in recent years. Starting in the late 1990s, the national agenda saw the prioritisation of arts development in Singapore through the Renaissance City Plan (RCP). Yet the next decade was marked by the demise of independent art spaces such as Plastic Kinetic Worms (PKW), which closed in 2010, and Post Museum in 2011. While support for the arts from the government is to be lauded, the fading existence of independent art spaces calls for concern. Through a synthesis of interviews with founders and directors of the space, literature reviews and close readings of materials published under the auspices of these spaces, I argue for the necessary of these spaces as an integral part of the art ecosystem in Singapore. This thesis will also examine the contributions and significance of independent art spaces.
Name: Geraldine Lee Tze-Lyn
Thesis Title: Womanhood in Late-Capitalist Japan through the Lenses of Photographers Miwa Yanagi and Tomoko Sawada
This thesis engages the medium of photography, delving into the photographic oeuvre of Miwa Yanagi (b. 1967) and Tomoko Sawada (b. 1977), to describe and critique the Japanese female condition, framed against the backdrop of societal malaise in fin de siécle Japan. It interrogates the influence of the socio-cultural and political environment on female identity formation and how these factors have impacted the work of contemporary Japanese women photographers. Women’s photography explores what lies at the intersection of the feminist critique of patriarchy and the postmodernist critique of representation. It presents “woman” as subject rather than object, leading to concerted retrieval of the terms of visualisation and an investigation of interactions between looking and questions of identity. In their observations of Japanese women, Yanagi and Sawada’s art crystallise the points of intersection between the diverse conditions and values in society and women’s complex inner selves, revealing a uniquely Japanese women’s sensibility in their negotiation of pursuing the life they want to live, within the strictures of a still conservative Asian society.
Name: Adulaya Hoontrakul
Thesis Title: (Re)Telling Tales through Photography: The photographer, the viewer and the power of the image. A Thai case study.
Thesis Abstract: –
Name: Elaine Cheong
Thesis Title: The Human Condition through the Lens of John Clang
“The Human Condition Through the Lens of John Clang” examines the centrality of the photographic lens in enabling narrations of the human condition, an existential condition embedded in the seemingly mundane images of the everyday. Although John Barthes had once declared that a photograph has no narration on its own, this study will prove that redefining the semantics of looking at photographs yields a kaleidoscope of stories that resonate with all people, through the common experience of facing challenges in daily life. This is an age where everyone becomes his own author posting photographs on Instagram and Facebook. How then would we situate artists like Clang who use photography in a world where there is a daily deluge of millions of photographs posted? At the same time, it is ironical that in an age inundated with images and photography exhibitions, there is still scant research on photography as contemporary art, in Singapore. Hence this author feels catalysed to embark on a study on how photography becomes the effective language for the human being’s existential conditions.
Name: Elaine Peck Leng Chiew
Thesis Title: Traumatised Topologies: An examination of map art and the revealed psychic subjectivities of war trauma and states of alienation
This thesis examines certain map art and mapping projects by Tiffany Chung, Tintin Wulia and MAP Office within a framework called “traumatised topologies.” It shows how these three artists counter-map by layering onto their map art specific psychic “subjectivities” related to two geographical constructs: (1) war-related trauma as experienced by survivors, depicted within war-torn topologies and Vietnam War battle zones; and (2) “states of alienation” as experienced by the Vietnamese refugee, the Filipino migrant worker and the Hong Kong resident whose political future is uncertain, depicted within the idea of Hong Kong as a “border” construct. These various psychic subjectivities are shown to yield specific geographical-art understandings concerning: (1) the nature of trauma for the survivor, opening up an affective empathic pathway for the spectator who encounters map art depicting trauma; and (2) three different perspectives the sense of being “unhomed” and its influence on claims of belonging, territorialisation and identity as they relate to Hong Kong as “border.”
Name: Eunice Lacaste
Thesis Title: Public-Engaged Art in Southeast Asian Contemporary
Recent developments in what Nicolas Bourriaud termed “Relational Aesthetics” have been visible in contemporary Southeast Asian practices that engage the public. This can be seen particularly in the works of Mark Salvatus, Azizan Paiman, and Amanda Heng. This thesis examines the practices of the aforementioned artists as case studies for participative methods. Here, the aesthetic and ethical values of participation in terms of both the production and reception processes of the artwork are analysed.
In public-engaged art, the public is used as the material that constitutes the main aspect of the artwork. Conventionally, art is produced from traditional materials such as paint, marble, or bronze. However, when the audience is engaged in the production of the work, their roles and functions shift from being a passive viewer to an active participant. The production and reception of the artwork are approached within a more communal situation, which manifests human encounters through the art object. This thesis looks at the art object as a non-human agency within the artwork that is different from the artwork itself, which is the totality of both human and non-human engagements. This typically opens up ethical questions about the work’s authorship or compensation of the participant’s labour, etc. There is a tendency for the ethical to replace the aesthetic critique of the work. However, this thesis argues that both are necessary for a thorough understanding of public-engaged artwork. Aesthetics and the ethical can work side-by-side to produce critical questions for probing public-engagement.
Name: Inna Shapiro
Thesis Title: Through Portraiture: The paintings of Kartika Affandi
This thesis investigates the portrait paintings of Indonesian female artist Kartika Affandi in the context of Indonesian society. Specifically, it examines how Kartika negotiates her position as a woman of various roles: daughter, wife, mother, mentor, and artist. This thesis undertakes biographical accounts and comparative analysis with other Indonesian figurative painters to form a study of Kartika’s portrait paintings.
Name: Chua Eng Koon Luke
Thesis Title: Religion in the Works of Kamin Lertchaiprasert and Norberto Roldan
In Southeast Asia and around the world, religion has played an undeniably important role in the history of human civilisation and continues to shape politics and social trends to this day. This is reflected in contemporary artistic expressions from across the region where evocations of religious references in art are contingent on broader cultural, social, political and historical forces. Motivated by intra-regional comparative studies of Southeast Asian art practices, my thesis investigates the relation between religion and art in Southeast Asia in the works of two contemporary Southeast Asian artists. In particular, I will compare the artistic strategies of Thai artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert and Filipino artist Norberto Roldan in engaging with Buddhist and Christian expressions respectively. Despite the differing cultural backgrounds and personal motivations of the two artists, this thesis proposes that both artists are interested in offering alternative understandings on the roles of religion in their respective Thai and Philippine societies, and that they employ a range of similar but also differing artistic strategies in their treatment of religious images and objects. In addition, I also propose that the insights gleaned from this comparative pairing can be useful entry points for further investigations into the multi-faceted roles and expressions of religion across contemporary Southeast Asian art.
Name: Nurcan Tosun
Thesis Title: The Use of Humor through the Lens of Satire in Indonesia: A study of the selected works of Heri Dono, Eko Nugroho and Uji Handoko Eko Saputro (Aka Hahan)
Humour, a universal phenomenon that not only entertains, but also acts as a medium of communication, has been used in many different forms to advance humanity. This dissertation presents its use in Indonesian contemporary art through a survey of three artists that represent three different generations who were influenced by significant historical events. The use of humor has always been an integral part of the Javanese “court” tradition, especially during President Soeharto’s regime. Exploring this phenomenon more deeply, the bulk of analysis in this dissertation focuses on the influence of traditional shadow theatre rooted in the indirect nature of Javanese culture as it is expressed in contemporary art practice in Indonesia. The influence of authoritarian regimes, alongside that of a society quickly shifting towards modernity, as well as the effects of globalism, are also considered. While exploring the reasons why artists have been drawn to humour in their work and the distinct ways in which they present their pieces, the connections between art and its social context are also examined in an attempt to understand the current manifestations of contemporary art in Indonesia.
Name: Pauline Gan
Thesis Title: Turning the Lens on Race: Photography as medium in the exploration of racial identity in Malaysia
In multiracial Malaysia, issues arising from and relating to racial and ethnic divisions and disparities lie at the root of many of the nation’s problems. This thesis begins by tracing the history of the country, from pre-colonial times to the present, in order to provide context and background and to investigate the causes of the problematic racial relations that exist in Malaysia today.
Photography has been associated with the visual representation of race and the institutionalised acceptance of theories regarding racial difference since the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839. It was used, in anthropological studies, to provide evidence to support the prevailing view in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, that the variance in different races was a natural biological phenomenon that could be observed empirically, studied scientifically, and from which certain principles could be derived. This thesis investigates the history of photography’s role in the representation of race and discusses some of the theories of visual perception that were embedded, or implied, in anthropological photographs of the Other.
These two chapters provide the contextual background for an investigation into how two contemporary Malaysian artists, Yee I-Lann and Vincent Leong, have dealt with issues of race, ethnic identity and racial difference in their artistic works, problematising the tendency, among Malaysians, to see each other through a racial lens and questioning the legitimacy of the fixed racial categorisations that are so much a part of the Malaysian collective consciousness. The thesis examines only a very small number of specific works in detail, adopting a case study approach. While this approach must necessarily preclude the making of broad sweeping statements, it is hoped that a more focused reading of the images, supported by the preceding contextual material, may yield greater insight into their implications and significance.
The thesis submits that the use of photography as a medium by these two contemporary artists, Yee I-Lann and Vincent Leong, to explore issues relating to race, is a significant one. The dark history of photography’s use as a tool by which notions of racial difference were entrenched makes the subversion of these very notions by Yee and Leong particularly ironic and effective. The thesis acknowledges and gives recognition to the role that Yee, Leong and other Malaysian artists play, as cultural producers, critics, commentators and members of the Malaysian citizenry, in contributing to a deeper understanding of Malaysia’s complex realties and to question whether those realties need to change.
Name: Suraendhiran s/o Ramadass
Thesis Title: Contemporary Singapore Art: Conceptual strategies and the question of national identity
The early beginnings of Singapore – when the nation did not have a clearly defined territory, continuous history, and communal identity – serve as a backdrop to this study whereby the sense of the past, sense of place, and sense of ‘self’ as people, posed as a paradox and challenge in establishing a unified identity as a nation and as people of a nation. Drawing on this context, the objective of this study was to examine how contemporary artworks – grouped according to two main themes, ‘Myths, Histories and Origins’ and ‘Nation of Immigrants – Self & Other’ explore some of these paradoxes and challenges through conceptual strategies.
Name: Teng Yen Hui
Thesis Title: Queering Perspectives in Singapore Art in the 1970s to 1990s: Subjectivity and desire in figuration
This paper aims to “queer” perspectives on works of figurative art by five Singaporean artists during the 1970s to 1990s. It recognizes a gap in Singapore’s art history that addresses sexual difference and gender diversity, and looks at possible ways to understand homoerotic image-making in Singapore. It argues that strategies of deliberate ambiguity, coding, and private circulation have marked much of homoerotic image-making, and that these ambiguities and codes are perceptible and can be interpreted only by those who know where and how to look for them.
This research examines the visual codes, employed by the selected artists, that could signify queerness, and seeks to understand the impact of the intersecting identities of an individual – sexual, gender, racial, ethnicity, class, etc. – on their experience of queerness. Providing an insight into queer subjectivity and desire, this paper also aims to challenge the hetero-centric foundation of art viewership and scholarship in Singapore.
Name: Usha Chandradas
Thesis Title: Balinese Visual Symbols and Identity in Contemporary Indonesian Art: A study of the practice of the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia
Bali’s identity as a kind of ‘paradise’ is one which has emerged as a result of its colonial history and touristic appeal. A good deal of the art which emerged out of this historical background was of a particular distinctive and somewhat stereotypical form. This thesis will explore the practice of the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI), an artist collective made up of Balinese artists who had travelled to Yogyakarta to pursue their art education. The SDI, formed in 1970, appeared to reject the notion of ‘Bali as paradise,’ and sought to create works which spoke to a concept of Balinese identity that was different from tourist representations. The roots of the SDI’s founding will be discussed, followed by two specific case studies of exhibitions of the collective held in post-New Order Indonesia; namely (i) the Millennium Art Exhibition of 1999 and; (ii) the Reinventing Bali exhibition of 2008. The case studies will address the research question of how the SDI–which appeared to reject utopian notions of Bali–harnessed or utilised Balinese visual symbols in the making of their art and in their establishment of a Balinese identity. The thesis will then conclude with an attempt to synthesize the issues raised in the preceding chapters; firstly, through a critical examination of the SDI’s use of Balinese visual symbols in its art, and particularly, its relationship with local and national identities. Secondly, the final chapter will consider whether arguments may be made in support of a separate “school of Balinese art,” within the Indonesian modern art framework (as exemplified through the works of the SDI, or otherwise). Finally, the influence of the art market in post-New Order Indonesia will be discussed.
Name: Tjong Min Cui
Thesis Title: History and Memory in Singapore Contemporary Art
The objective of this paper is to provide a view into how we can use history and memory as ways of understanding events of the past. Using the incident of Operation Cold Store, and the issues surrounding Singapore’s Internal Security Act, I consider how ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ narratives, in the form of historical texts, documents, personal first-hand accounts, and aesthetic representations are texts of equal importance, and can play a part in understanding how History and Memory are constructed. ‘History’ being the tangibly expressed document of how we envision ourselves (as nation, as self), and ‘Memory’ being the less tangible, less concrete expression, but also a no less important record of our experiences. Thus, it is vital to speak of both, and to be aware of the parts documented history and undocumented memory play in shaping our whole sense of self in the past, present and our desired future. My methodology takes reference from Deleuze’s notion of ‘becoming’, and June Yap’s treatise of the historiographical aesthetic. From both, I present a blended frame of uncovering shared themes in the works I have chosen: Escape from the Lion’s Paw, To Singapore, With Love, and The Return.
Name: Yeow Ju Li
Thesis Title: Problematising the Malay Artist in Singapore: Impact of
Identity, Socio-Politics and the Art World on Art Making
This thesis seeks to re-examine the contributions of Malays, with particular focus on post-second generation practitioners, to document their practice and methodologies, and the influences behind their work. Through four case studies as well as other examples of the work of post-second generation artists, this research adopts a two-pronged approach to study Malay artists in Singapore. Firstly, it examines the influence of identity and socio-political considerations on the artists’ practice. Secondly, it examines how the artists negotiate and respond to the forces of the art ecosystem in which they operate, not only in terms of art production but also presentation. The research will illustrate how identity as well as socio-politics both play a significant role in the works of Malay artists in Singapore. There is no singular defining characteristic of their art, as they respond to the complexities of their multifaceted identities. Apart from identity and socio-politics, the art world in which Malay artists in Singapore operate has also impacted their work and how their art is distributed.
Name: Cecilia Ong
Thesis Title: Georgette Chen – Artist, Educator
The thesis extends the study of Georgette Chen to examine her role as a female artist and educator in Singapore from the 1950s to 80s. The thesis argues that while there was a possible division of art forms produced by both genders and a lower degree of recognition of female artists, studies by Western historians and Chinese art practitioners revealed otherwise. The thesis traces the development of art academies and art societies in the early twentieth century in Malaya by the early Chinese emigres and their roles in establishing artists and recognition of their work. A comparison made between Georgette Chen and Sunyee, the latter was also an experienced artist trained in a number of reputable academies in China, Japan and France, revealed that their affiliations to academies and societies offered them different degree of recognition, acknowledgement and exposure of their artworks. The thesis also studies two possible influences on Chen’s teaching philosophy. The first influence is the cultivation at the heart of education of the Chinese educated and the second being the vision presented by Mr Lim Hak Tai in 1937 when he was the principal of NAFA and the art teaching criteria put forth by Richard Walker when he was appointed an Art Master of the Government English Schools in 1923.
Name: Chin Miao Hsu
Thesis Title: Contemporary Chinese Ink Artists in Singapore from the
1980s to 2015: Identity, Rejuvenation and the Nanyang Style
This thesis examines how the contemporary Chinese ink artists in Singapore, through their varying approaches, have rejuvenated Chinese ink painting from the 1980s to 2015. By focusing on the sense of identity, attitudes towards the medium, and consequently the artistic strategies of a number of important artists, the influence of the Nanyang artists on the contemporary ink painters is discussed as a historical reference. Case studies on second-generation Chua Ek Kay (1947–2008) and third-generation Hong Sek Chern (b. 1967) and Tay Bak Chiang (b.1973) reveal varying motivations and strategies employed by these artists. My analysis of artworks highlights significant influence from the Nanyang artists on Chua, whose struggle with issues of identity shaped his approach and strategies to art. However for Hong and Tay, the influence dissipates; they do not have the identity struggle or tension from “choosing sides” and their art practice is also informed by multiple sources of inspiration due to the forces of globalization.
Name: Christiaan Haridas
Thesis Title: The LASALLE Habitus – Mapping Artistic Dispositions Within A Field of Cultural Production
This study aims to trace the origin of artistic dispositions within the LASALLE social landscape. This is achieved by looking at LASALLE’s development through the lens of a social theory of practice, specifically Bourdieu’s notion of the habitus. The secondary aim of this research is to understand the social phenomenon of artistic legitimacy. This is achieved by adopting the theoretical assumption of the habitus as a system of transposable dispositions that derives its power (social standing) from the amount of cultural capital. Within this framework, the study examines the legitimacy of the student in relation to the extent of his/her unconscious acceptance of the dispositions. The notion of the LASALLE success and its paradigm thus presents itself as an example of how social standing is conferred to students when their practice engage the dispositions. This research primarily adopts a sociological approach to circumvent a stylistic discourse. The research takes a broad view at understanding the student and his/her practice within the grand scheme of the LASALLE School.
Name: Christine Han
Thesis Title: Singapore Abstract Art and the Experience of Modernity 1950s – 1980s
This study examines the cultural, historical and intellectual context of Singapore abstract art from the 1950s to the 1980s and to arrive at a deeper level of understanding of the work itself. The study ponders if the work of abstract artists, by its nature of freedom and inventiveness, is but a complex response to the broader experience of modernity. The artists’ work were often perceived as purely formal as they experimented with different styles including Cubism, Expressionism and Abstraction, appearing on the surface as responding only to the physical qualities of art such as colour, line, form, texture and so on. However, the ideas, meaning and content of Singapore’s abstract artists, as shown through their writings and statements, proved that their art and thought were inextricably linked to personal expressions, everyday experience and modern life.
Name: Odile Calla-Simon
Thesis Title: Contemporary Southeast Asian art exhibitions, narratives of
region-ness /Case study: The Singapore Biennale
This thesis explores the interfaces between contemporary Southeast Asian art exhibitions and the notion of region-ness in Southeast Asia. It reflects upon the drive by regional contemporary art exhibitions to foster a sense of region-ness in in the region’s contemporary art landscape. To address this question of region-ness, this study first reviews how regional exhibitions have been a major entry point to approach the representation, interpretation and circulation of Southeast Asian contemporary art. Considering the Singapore Biennale as a case study, the thesis then examines and evaluates the opportunities and the challenges the biennale encountered in its drive to foster a sense of region-ness in Southeast Asian contemporary art.
Name: Paramita Leertouwer Gupta
Thesis Title: I, Witness: Agency of Change And Women Artists In Indonesian Contemporary Art
This thesis explores the relationship between female artists as agents of change in a patriarchal society and the visual arts in Indonesia. The thesis uses the case study of President Suharto’s New Order regime (1966-1998) to understand the mechanics of the construction of gender ideology, how it became inherent as a social norm in society and the tools used by the New Order to limit resistance and exert to its authority. Given the nature of this oppressive environment, the thesis sets out to explore the artworks of three selected female Indonesian artists; Dolorosa Sinaga, Mella Jaarsma and Octora Chan. Through interview, observations, contextual and visual analysis, the thesis provides a framework to understand how each of the artists have created a form of agency, in an Indonesian context, that exposes women’s conditions under a dominant patriarchal culture. By looking beyond the New Order Regime, the three selected artists have asserted their agency to begin the process of bringing about change in society either by means of inspiration, good cause, creation of new narratives, shifting perceptions and moreover, questioning the unspeakable.
Name: Lucia Cordeschi
Thesis Title: Roberto Chabet’s Influence in Philippine Contemporary Art
Conceptual artist Roberto Chabet has been a pivotal figure in the transition from modern to contemporary art in the Philippines. He was also a curator and for over thirty years he taught and mentored hundreds of aspiring artists, providing them with an alternative way of thinking of art and art making to the prevalent social realism or traditional figurative art. This study aims to understand his teaching methodology and assess its positive and negative impact over the artistic practice of his former students. In the process it proposes ways to conceptualize artistic influence when this does not translate into a distinctive technical style.
Name: Samantha Anne Segar
Thesis Title: The Singapore Art Ecosystem: Conditions of Production and Evolution Toward a New Public Sphere
This study looks at the conditions of production for contemporary visual art in Singapore in the first fifteen years of the twenty-first century in an effort to identify the salient public and private structures, issues, opinions, and tensions that have shaped and continue to influence the creation of art in the city-state. Privileging the transitional generation of local artists, i.e. artists born in the 1970s and early 1980s, the research will address the relationship between the artist and state, the artist and community, and consider recent exhibitions and artwork as exemplary. The analysis will consider how power is manifested and employed by both the artist and the state in the former’s on-going negotiation for autonomy, and strategies artists engage as they strive to actualise a new public sphere in Singapore.
Name: Harmeet Singh
Thesis Title: The Issue of Lesbian Visibility in Contemporary Indian Cinema: A Comparative Study of Transnational & Mainstream Cinema
Contemporary Indian cinema has undergone substantial changes over the last couple of decades. Many Bollywood movies have explored various social issues such as child marriage, polygamy, dowry system, caste system and terrorism. However, homosexuality, a taboo subject in Indian society and religion, has yet not been fully explored in Bollywood. Within the realm of homosexuality, lesbianism and not male homosexuality, has been the primary focus. The issues of women visibility are not clear in the mainstream cinema. In an attempt to circumvent this societal taboo, a more active exploration of this subject has been done in transnational Indian films. These films are hybrid films that straddle two dominant genres of cinema, namely Hollywood and Bollywood.
Name: Stephanie Xatart
Thesis Title: The Materiality of the Art of Sopheap Pich: A Matter of Authenticity
By focusing on the materiality of the art of Sopheap Pich, this study examines issues
surrounding the negotiation of fluid identities and proposes to reappraise materiality as a salient art historical concept. In particular the study discusses the various ways materiality can be envisaged and reappraised as a cogent tool for the art historian interested in the art produced today and in the recent past in Southeast Asia. It examines materials, artistic processes and aesthetics as generative of meaning as well as strategic tools for the artist to subvert and defy overly simplified categorisation. A critical reading of materiality questions the notion of authenticity, to produce multiple subjectivities by slipping between the categories of tradition, national, global and the authentic.
Name: Carrie Chia
Thesis Title: Women Artists Group Exhibitions in Singapore (Terms and Conditions May Apply)
This study aims to examine how different ‘terms and conditions’ impact why and how group exhibitions by women artists were organised in Singapore, particularly through the case studies of three women artist-initiated platforms/group exhibitions which were held from 1996 to 2014. The research will look into a chronological view of key events which have set the backdrop on how selected women artist group exhibitions were established; and take a feminist approach to uncover social/cultural perceptions of women which led to certain strategies and artistic expressions being adopted and surfaced in these group exhibitions.
Name: Woo Fook Wah
Thesis Title: “I Paint What I See.” Looking at the Art of Wee Shoo Leong from a Nanyang Perspective and Beyond
This thesis analyses the art of Wee Shoo Leong produced between 1990 and 2011. It focuses on his still life paintings and traces the evolution of his art as works that mirror the Nanyang style and its development beyond this genre. These developments have both philosophical and technical foundations. This research highlights the influence of his education in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and examines the influence of Nanyang style artists on the technical and philosophical development of the artist. However, Wee has departed from his early influences an outcome of his constant experiments with technical and conceptual approaches to art.
Name: Vedrenne Mol Marie-Pierre
Thesis Title: Contemporary Women Artists in Myanmar Issues in Gender, Motherhood and Nation in the Work of Phyu Mon, Chaw Ei Thein, ma Ei and Nge lay
Myanmar’s opening to the outside world represents an opportunity to better assess the evolution of her contemporary art since the mid-1990s and how women have contributed to it. This thesis focuses on a group of women artists who have in common to place gender issues at the center of their practice and artworks to address social and political issues. Myanmar women artists have used art to address social and political issues, and to create a space for themselves. Contemporary forms of expression, such as performance art, installations and photography were fast adopted by women artists since the mid 1990s. Inspired by some international vanguard practices, Myanmar women artists have chosen to use a visual vocabulary deeply anchored in local tradition and cultureThe objective of this thesis is to investigate the conceptual and visual strategy of these artists. Based on the intersection of personal and national history, on collaborative approaches with the community and on the slippage between genres, this strategy is used to address three recurring themes: the traditional role of women in the household, motherhood and lack of freedom. Although the artworks created by these women artists were not inspired by a feminist agenda, the leitmotif of their themes justifies considering them as a group.
Name: Francis Choo
Thesis Title: Social Realism in Singaporean Art: Its Beginnings, Practice and Subsequent Decline
This thesis discusses the social, political, economic and cultural that influenced the emergence and subsequent decline of social realist art in Singapore. Although social realist art originated from Europe, Chinese immigrant artists and those who were Chinese educated dominated its practice in Singapore. The influence of Communist ideology from China as well as racial communalism was also associated with the rise of social realist art in Singapore.Artists such as Koeh Sia Yong, Lee Boon Wan, Ong Tian Soo and Chua Mia Tee were pioneer social realist artists of Singapore. They organised art societies that drove the social realist art movement which was active in the 1950s and early 1960s. However the conditions for the rise and fall of this form of art were dependent on the political motivations of ruling parties. The art form reached its peak in the 1950s but declined in the 1960s due to certain political actions.
Name: Derelyn Chua
Thesis Title: The Contributions of Post-Independence Singapore Malay Artists: Some Problems and Issues
This thesis attempts to locate the contributions of the post-independence Malay artists, to put forward an alternative history to the better-known Singapore Story. The approach involves a consideration of the importance of art as a form of Malay cultural heritage to the Malay community and the wider Singapore society, to underscore the motivations underlying the Singapore Story that had submerged the voices of the Malay artists’. Also, it has taken into account other contributory factors that have caused the Malay artists to be marginalised, such as the lack of consistent patronage; the Malay community’s concept of art as opposed to understanding of art which is entrenched in Western discourses; and the artists’ mediums of expressions that are not conventionally regarded as fine art. This thesis seeks to make a contribution to the historiography of Singapore art, and to the ongoing debates about Singapore’s past.
Name: Rachel Choo
Thesis Title: Unlocking the Art of War: Prisoner-of-War Art in World War II in Singapore
This thesis is an overview study of the little-known field of prisoner-of-war art from World War II Singapore. It argues that the art is worth studying for its value as art. This approach, which is applied in this study and involves the understanding of the art through the analysis of its subject-matter, form, iconography, style and meaning, can not only help to establish its status as a genre of Singapore’s art history, but also enhance its value as historical artifacts and sources of information about wartime internment. This thesis introduces a number of known internee artists, all of whom were Westerners marched by Singapore’s Japanese conquerors into appalling conditions of captivity. It describes the conditions in wartime internment, which were highly influential in encouraging the making of art, and shaping the forms it took. Ultimately, this thesis argues that Singapore’s prisoner-of-war art is of ample quality, diversity and yet unity to be recognised as a genre – hitherto overlooked – in Singapore’s art history.
Name: Joseph Tham
Thesis Title: Merzbow – The Art of Noise in Japan
The rise of Japanese Noise or Japanoise in the late 1970s and the emergence of one of its icons, Merzbow, were to prove pivotal in placing Noise as a creative art form into sound art by the end of the 1990s. Masami Akita, the main artist behind Merzbow, drew from his Western art school education of his university years and his deep love for the experimental and the weird in sound and forge a sonic art form which is abstract, outré and yet very much Japanese in its conceptual underpinnings. This thesis aims to examine deep into the background of Akita to understand where the origins of his Noise comes from by first taking a critical survey of the history of Noise in the arts and music in the twentieth century to position Merzbow’s art in context.
Name: Lee Wee Yan
Thesis Title: A Psychoanalytic Investigation of Symbolism as Visual Subterfuge in Jimmy Ong’s Drawings: Negotiating Subjectivity in Heteronormative Singapore
The aim of this dissertation is to contextualise, theorise and analyse Jimmy Ong’s drawings as actively expressing a strong autobiographical narrative, both implicitly through his psyche as well as explicitly through the form and content of his drawings. This dissertation proposes that the selected figurative images from Ong’s exhibition “Ancestors on the Beach” bespoke Ong’s crisis with his subjectivity and his attempts to resolve it. They also perform as surrogate images reflecting or mirroring the artist’s gender-sexual politics, desires and aspirations in the context of heteronoramative Singapore. Figurative images, especially the male nude, have been a hall mark of Ong’s works since the 1980s. A declared homosexual, Ong’s mastery of the subject as a critical visual trope and device is of significance to this study which integrates and synthesizes contributions from psychoanalytic theory, art history and criticism, sociological and semiotic theories. The study will explicate the process of sublimation by analyzing the pictorial symbolism in Ong’s drawings as the visual trope of subterfuge. This dissertation asserts that the visual trope of subterfuge is an unconscious incorporeal psychical drive of sublimation informing the process or act of symbolisation that produces the pictorial configurations in Ong’s figurative narratives.
Name: Durriya Dohadwala
Thesis Title: The Agency of International Exhibitions and Curatorial Projects in the Positioning of Pakistan’s Contemporary Miniature Art
Miniature art is an important component of the Pakistani art canon. From a traditional technique of copying old masters, symbolic of the nation’s glorious Muslim heritage and identity, contemporary miniature has now become a genre that investigates technique, form and content often through subversion and the use of new media. The international positioning of Pakistani contemporary miniature art is unique – it is almost always a part of Pakistani contemporary art exhibitions but there have also been a number of exhibitions that solely exhibit contemporary miniature which signals its special place in the Pakistani contemporary canon. This study evaluates four major international exhibitions and projects namely; Manoeuvering Miniatures 2001, Contemporary Miniature Paintings from Pakistan 2004, Karkhana: A Contemporary Collaboration 2005 and Beyond the Page: Contemporary Art from Pakistan 2006/2010 to investigate the dominant positioning of contemporary miniature art within the realm of Pakistani art internationally. By critically evaluating the nature of these exhibitions, their curatorial strategy and their themes this study seeks to determine whether this positioning is the result of the agency of these international exhibitions and curators. This thesis also briefly considers the role of mega exhibitions in the construction of contemporary miniature’s location as the prime art of Pakistan.
Name: Sally Clarke
Thesis Title: Exploring the Dynamics Informing Chinese New Media Artists Through Miao Xiaochun
The histories of Asian art are full of controversies and China’s is no exception. While it is obvious that government changes in policy and leadership impact the lives of a country’s citizens, what is remarkable in China is the pace of change. Artists working in Beijing have responded to the transformation occurring in their urban environment, from the 1990s to the present day through a multitude of mediums. This thesis takes the practices of new media artists and contrasts them with the work of Miao Xiaochun who is well-respected in China and abroad for his digital photography and 3D computer animations. Miao Xiaochun’s work is complex given his extensive engagement with European Renaissance paintings, use of allegory, intertwining of Chinese aesthetics and philosophies. Employing the theoretical background of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s works in metaphysics and epistemology, this thesis undertakes an analysis of Miao’s Renaissance inspired C-Print and 3D computer animations works, and unravels some of the dynamics informing one of his more complex works Microcosm.
Name: Augustine Wong
Thesis Title: Imagining Other Worlds: Heterotopias and Third Spaces in Contemporary Singapore Art and Film
This study attempts to examine the multifold ways in which spatial imaginings imbued with heterotopic and Third Space potentialities might have been conceived and given expression in the multidisciplinary works of selected Singaporean artists and filmmakers. Additionally, it seeks to elucidate the array of sociocultural and socio-political issues and implications that might be critically encoded in these selfsame spatial imaginings. Chapter One of this study establishes the justification and the necessary theoretical underpinnings for this study, situating it within the context of an increasing intersection between critical theory, cultural geography, film and visual art as a methodological approach for the study of contemporary visual culture. Chapter Two proceeds, then, to examine the specific ways in which disparate heterotopian imaginings replete with inversionary possibilities might have been realised in the works of selected Singaporean practitioners, underscored, in turn, by the diverse range of historical, sociocultural and socio-political concerns that might be crucially embedded in these works. Chapter Three furthers the discussion via an analysis of the ways in which various Third Space imaginings as the counterpart of heterotopic terrains might have been embodied and expressed in the works of selected practitioners, complemented, in turn, by a critical exploration of the possible sociocultural and socio-political effects engendered via a presentation of such liminal sites and spatial terrains. This study concludes by positing salient affinities and confluences between heterotopic and Third Space imaginings as a point for further reflection.
Name: Gerald Tan
Thesis Title: Buddhist Art and the Development of Neo-traditionalism in Thailand
This thesis sets out to chart the development of traditional Buddhist art through the course of Thai history to the contemporary period. It aims to show how the original didactic practice of Buddhist art has deviated into neo-traditionalism, where Buddhism is used in art to assert Thai identity, critique society and the political structures of the country via diverse methods and art forms. Using James Elkins’ “On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art” as the basis of its argument, the aim of this thesis is to assert that art in Thailand still maintains a connectivity between the Buddhist religion and contemporary art. Through neo-traditionalism, Thai contemporary art has actually exemplified the influence of Buddhism through different levels of significance and complexities
Name: Rachel Oren
Thesis Title: The Reappearance of Animistic Symbols In Southeast Asian Art
The aim of this thesis is to investigate the paradoxical reappearance of animist and mythology symbols within the art production of selected four Southeast Asian artists from three countries. By incorporating spiritual, and mythological icons in their artworks, these artists have managed to create an experimental artistic language concerned with the relation between power, history and cultures, secularism and collective memories, in a globalised world. This thesis draws from anthropological perspectives to show the strong influence of animistic and mythological culture on Southeast Asian artists, and to assess how the artists have managed to create unique voices of their own. Thirty artworks have been investigated and interviews with two artists were conducted to show the level of incorporation of the animist symbols, as well as the similarities and differences among the four artists.
Name: Loredana Paracciani
Thesis Title: The Role of Art Education in Bangkok And its Relevance On Twenty-First Century Thai Art Practices
This is a study of twenty-first century art education in Thailand and the role it plays on the contemporary art scene. Scholarly focus on contemporary Thai art, in English, is relatively recent and mostly conducted within a regional framework whereby Thai art is approached as part of the wider Southeast Asian region. This thesis extends the study of Thai art towards local investigation, that is, focusing on the educational training and background of young and emerging Thai artists in order to examine two critical links: first, the link between art education and emerging art practitioners; second, the link between contemporary art practice and common themes and methodologies fostered among young artists.
Name: Peggy Wang Ying
Thesis Title: Wu Dayu: A Forgotten Star
Wu Dayu was an artist whose students include seminal figures like Wu Guangzhong, Zhu Dequn and Zhao Wuji. These great artists have praised his genius and his philosophical ideals. The few works of Wu’s that remain convey both breadth of vision and the artist’s exceptional success in exploring abstract lines and rich colour in the oil medium.
Name: Paul Khoo
Thesis Title: The Trials of Indonesian Conceptualism
This thesis aims to develop a different definition of conceptual art in Indonesia using a theory of Latin American conceptualism. This study traces its development to the Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru movement and its offshoots; contrast it with activist art; and study its transformation by nineties generation artists.
Name: Krisstel Martin
Thesis Title: The Women of Hendra Gunawan’s Paintings
Women are often portrayed in Hendra Gunawan’s works; they play a key role in expressing his thoughts and ideas of his country at that time in history. This thesis also explores how much of his representation of women was based on observation and how much was based on his idealisation of women.
Name: Daniela Beltrani
Thesis Title: The Concept of Art and Artist in the Oeuvre of Heri Dono
This thesis proposes a concept of art and artist from within an Indonesian context. The process adopted will involve, on the one hand, an analysis of a theoretical frame within Indonesian art discourse and, on the other, an analysis of a selection of works from the diverse artistic practice of Heri Dono.
Name of student: Vidya Gnana Gouresan
Thesis Title: A Cultural Biography of the Nataraja Image
The thesis traces the cultural biography of the image of the Nataraja (a god in Hindu mythology and culture), and investigates the manner(s) in which the image of the Nataraja is appropriated, re-contextualised and commoditised in Indian modern and contemporary art.
Name: Kong Yen Lin
Thesis Title: Rise of Modernism in Singapore Photography, 1950s to 1980s: Aesthetic Negotiation through an Ethnic and National Identity Prism
This thesis traces the development of modern photography in Singapore alongside the crucial decades of socio-political and economic growth of the nation ever since attaining self-governance in 1959 till the 1980s. Given that most photographers active during that period were Chinese, this research would attempt to investigate how photographic representation or negotiation of Chinese ethnicity, against the backdrop of state policies and ideological control, contributed to the rise of modernism in Singapore photography. Case studies were conducted on the seminal works and practices of five photographers who clinched the Cultural Medallion award: Yip Cheong Fun, Lee Lim, Chua Soo Bin, Foo Tee Jun and Tan Lip Seng. A key finding is how the emphasis of traditional Chinese aesthetic values on visual harmony favoured a compatibility with the practice of pictorialism circulating in Euroamerican photo salons, which also revolved around the depiction of beauty and sentimentality. Adopting this pictorial language, Singaporean photographers hybridized it with their ethnic inflections and local iconographies while engaging with the experience of modernity. This cross fertilization of eastern and western influences, encouraged by the Chinese aesthetic values of openness, resulted in the derivation of unique modern photographic visions.
Name: Lim Yan Ling, Jase
Thesis Title: Notion of Void and Solid in Chua Ek Kay’s Chinese Ink Paintings
This essay investigates the visual language in Singaporean Chinese ink painter, Chua Ek Kay’s (1947-2008) paintings. This study strives to develop an ‘eye’ in observation for Chinese ink paintings; to be able to read the nuances of things by seeing beyond surfaces and obvious appearances. What appear as lines, dot or dashes may be embedded with in-depth connotations waiting to be excavated. Chua’s visual language, poems, inscriptions on the paintings and statements from interviews project nuances of influences by Chinese philosophy and traditions of painting. Motivated by the belief that the more one knows about art, the more one will appreciate it, this study attempts to read Chua’s inner messages encoded within his paintings with the ultimate aim to provide a link between the viewer and Chua’s artistic realm.
Name: Anette Pusch
Thesis Title: Ai Weiwei: Art of Irony
Ai Weiwei is a leading representative of Chinese contemporary art and creative genius of the twenty-first century working in an international context. His art practice includes all manifestations, from performance to installation and even architecture. As such, his conceptual art extends beyond its simple form to critically reflect on China’s cultural history and relation to itself. The main features of his signature style include the extreme reduction to elementary geometric forms, their deformation or serial arrangement as well as the use of traditional materials. It is his way of criticising the selling out of culture, and thereby redefining cultural heritage. Hence, Ai’s art depends in considerable measure on irony. The essential feature of his irony is an indirect presentation of a contradiction between an artistic expression or action and the context in which it occurs. This thesis avoids being radical or definitive as it aspires to open up a critical consciousness of artistic conventions, historical conditions and new perception. Through a contextual approach, and by using ‘critical theories’ as a framework, this paper will critically analyse Ai’s art in a Chinese context and the inherent use of irony, in his body of works.
Name: Jessica Lai
Thesis Title: Contemporary Southeast Asian Portraiture: A Strategy for Socio-Political Investigation
The art of self-portraiture is not an indigenous tradition in Southeast Asia. Artists in the West began exploring their self-images in their art around the time of the Renaissance; when the conception of the artist as an individual gained ground. When Southeast Asian artists adopted Western techniques and stylistic elements in their art-making, they also adopted the genre of self-portraiture. Artists became independent individuals with their own ideas and expressions. However, the collective frame did not disappear; and even in the depiction of the self, there exists a collective identity. The motives for depicting the self-image are also not the same. Sometimes, the self-image is merely a window through which the artist deals with his inner self. Thus, the artist is not after his physical likeness. Rather, he is on a journey to self-discovery and understanding. In contemporary Southeast Asian art, the self-image has been co-opted as a site and strategy to make commentary about society and politics. This thesis looks at how contemporary Southeast Asian artists, through questioning the self, raise questions about identity within a globalized, pluralistic, continually changing and politically charged world that is contemporary society.
Name: Wong Hong Weng
Thesis Title: The Singapore Storied:
Issues of Politics and Society in Local Contemporary Art from 2000 Onwards
The Singapore Story as envisaged at the state level is more often than not experienced differently by its citizens at the ground level. There appears to be some disjuncture of perceptions and realities of everyday life in Singapore as perceived from these two vantage points. This thesis takes ‘unofficial’ exhibitions in recent years which have appropriated the occasion of National Day in order to critique it as emblem of this condition. It has isolated works mainly from Valentine Willie’s Singapore Survey series which make commentary on notions of Singapore nation-state with respect to its history, identity and values. The thesis situates these studies in a larger societal context by observing how these alternative perceptions and realities are indicative of rising desire and aspiration from ground-up to partake in matters relating to ideology, space and power. The artists’ responses are symptomatic of postmodern conditions in two aspects – first, the interjecting of personal dialogues into the meta-narrative of state-constructed history; and second, the use of art as counter-measure to dislodge state hegemony.
Name: Georgina Luisa O. Jocson
Thesis Title: The Impact Of Black Artists In Asia On The Contemporary Art Of Negros Occidental And The Visayas Region, And On A Wider Scale, The Contemporary Art Narrative of The Philippines
The social realist movement in the Philippines reached its height in the period leading up to the 1986 popular uprising which overthrew autocratic president Ferdinand Marcos. Over in the Visayas, less than an hour away by plane from the Manila, the feudal social conditions of Negros Occidental were fomenting their own version of abuse, hunger, and displacement. For over a century, vast tracts of the island had been fenced off as sugarcane haciendas (plantations) in the possession of a few hacenderos (plantation owners). The EDSA Revolution offered the promise of freedom and a new democracy, which artists in Negros took to heart. From this potent mix of political euphoria, economic devastation and social inequality rose the socially committed visual arts organization, Black Artists in Asia (BAA) in 1986. Although the group has been in existence for a quarter of a century, there is a notable lack of documented information on its activities and projects. Hence, this thesis proposed to research and record the 25-year history of the Black Artists in Asia and to evaluate its successes and failures vis-à-vis its stated goals, as well as locate and weigh its significance in contemporary Philippine art.
Name: Rohaya Mustapha
Thesis Title: Collectivism in Art as Strategy
The range of collaboration in art shows a growing exploration of art making which challenge ideas of conventional artistic autonomy. This exploration is particularly taken up by artists working in collectives who recognise and use interaction and relationships as strategies in art making. In so doing they also help to expand the field of art. Art collectives represent a very explicit form of artistic collaboration in which the individual artistic identity is subsumed by collective labour. Contemporary collectives since the 1990s also tend to be engaged with social issues and the general public instead of issues addressed to the art world. Thus discursive frameworks based on formalistic qualities of art are deficient in discussing collaborative work. The increasing visibility of collective collaboration requires other frameworks which take into account the collaborative element. The objective of the study is to try and understand the different models of collaborative labour adopted by art collectives which challenge the autonomy of art making. This thesis aims to understand the collaborative models of Singapore based collectives and attempt to provide insights into their motivations and their working processes. The research looks into possible discursive frameworks which can be used to discuss these collaborative practices in order to expand the way they can be located in our local art history.