Becoming was commissioned for BELIEF, Singapore Biennale, 2006. It developed as an extension of the single channel video work, Vent & Mimesis that had been made a few years previously in response to a specific socio-political development in Britain. Re-siting the work as part of an International Biennale, within the framework of belief, and within a disused courtroom in The City Hall enabled a shift in focus from a local to a global referent. The final work consisted of a 6 channel video and sound installation.
“… Working along a similar vein that focuses on the construction and negotiation of personal identity within broader socio-political frameworks, Tan’s Vent & Mimesis (2003) reflects on the anxieties of globalization, immigration and cultural differences in relation to notions of citizenship and British ‘naturalisation’. The performative work, which involves the act of rehearsing, reciting and reconstructing a “pledge”, examines processes of role-playing and self-actualisation. Vent & Mimesis explores the ambiguities of translation and probes into the shifting values of the spoken word to expose its relative meanings, where the act of pledge taking also assumes structures of order, power, and control over the individual. Erika Tan’s new work at City Hall, becoming: vent & mimesis (2006), is an extension of this project.
The old City Hall building, apart from having formerly housed organs of state such as the Singapore Public Service Commission, was where Singapore’s first independent government had sworn their Oaths of Allegiance. Several National Day Parades were also previously held from the building steps. References to power, authority, and nation building surround this site at which significant legal and historic proceedings have been performed. Staged in a City Hall courtroom, becoming re-enacts a psychologically and politically charged space within which ideas of Self, Nation, State and the Body come into play. Gestures of oath taking and role-playing in the work deliberate the formation and transformation of Self as empowered by word and action. Becoming considers how this sense of Self - the physical and private self, as well as the more public and nation-ed self, comes into being as both process and performance.”
- Eliza Tan, Singapore Biennale Short Guide, 2006
Format: 6 Channel DVD.
Commissioned by: BELIEF, Singapore Biennale 2006
Shown at: BELIEF, Singapore Biennale 2006, City Hall, Courtroom 22.
Subsequent showings: Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, June 14 – Oct 21, 2007. Curated by Wonil Rhee and Peter Weibel.
Publication: Singapore Biennale 2006 Guide (2006), Catalogue (2007 tbc). Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves. ZKM, Germany 2007