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The 77th Annual Trans-Ideological Congress for Constructive Divisiveness

Bras Basah Open:
Bruce Quek, Helios, Hilary Yeo, Kar-men cheng, Sha Sharif, Smiha Kapoor

Group Exhibition

1 - 9 April 2023, 11am - 7pm

The 77th Annual Trans-Ideological Congress for Constructive Divisiveness is a collaborative art installation and transdisciplinary workshop that explores how material cultures and collective agencies are informed by, and in turn reinform, practices of futurology, myth-making, and communal deliberation. Framed as the site of a fictive geopolitical conference à la the UN General Assembly, Congress assembles ‘representatives’ of divergent ideological and theoretical persuasions to assess ‘policies’ drawn from contemporary theory and mass culture as they pertain to the medium- and long-term prospects of human civilization. ‘Founded’ in the wake of the US’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the formation of the UN (a pair of watershed events in the brutal 20th century that both occurred in 1945, 77 years ago), this shadowy convention does not aim to build consensus or arrive at resolutions, but to clarify (and sometimes escalate) divergences between belief systems in order to gauge trajectories of probable conflict and avert future cataclysmic fallouts. An exercise in upending entrenched dogmas about the relative values of unity and division, harmony and conflict, in constructive discourse, Congress invites audiences to ponder the schisms and crises (ecological, economic, social, medical, etc.) of our times in a critical spirit, shifting the discourse away from paralytic states of denial and anxiety towards courage, wonder, and hope.
Congress extends Bras Basah Open’s efforts to initiate critical and informative academia-adjacent interventions in the local arts and culture landscape. The collaborating artists were gathered not only for their artistic merit, but also for their strengths as interlocutors and their diverging theoretical-ideological beliefs. Their collaboration will put the principle of constructive divisiveness into practice: the making process will be preceded by sharing sessions during which they will discuss their viewpoints in a spirited but respectful atmosphere in order to test and refine them in the face of scrutiny and objection. In a similar spirit, the public workshop will introduce audiences to topical debates in contemporary discourse and create avenues for them to reflect and reorient themselves amidst the chaos and turbulence of the present moment.

About the Artist(s)

Bruce Quek
Bruce Quek (b. 1986, Singapore) is an interdisciplinary artist well-versed in installation art, sound art as well as photography. Having received a Diploma in Fine Arts (Sculpture) from LASALLE-SIA in 2006, Bruce went beyond the conventions of traditional mediums to work on installation and performance pieces from as early as 2004 at 37 In The Bar to 2008 where he exhibited solo at Post-Museum and finally to 2010 where he participated in a group exhibition, B.E.A.U.T.Y Show in Copenhagen, Denmark. His experiences range from collaborating on a music project with Shazanah Hassan to working as both photographer and videographer for The Artist’s Village and AHPY.

The diversity of his mediums belie the various concerns of his work, which include; the distribution and dissemination of information, as well as other conceptual investigations, which range from critiques of artistic infrastructure to studies of various pathologies and emergences. One of his interests in the representation and speculation of koan- a concept of Zen Buddhism- beyond its forms of a story but at a given place and time in one’s life.

Hilary Yeo
Hilary’s practice is aimed at demising the script in favour of a transcendental becoming by applying new modes of articulation and prioritising non-human subjectivity.

She is also a contributing member of T.T.O.O, Endless Return, and Pure Ever, a curation platform, a label/rave collective, and art collective

Kar-men Cheng
Currently two years into my art practice, trying to deepen my framework and get proficient with a process of my own. Also copywriting, editing (text and sound), and conducting research full-time at a community arts and social development organisation.

Over the last ten years, I’ve worked in advertising, consulting, and diverse education-related roles— one of the most memorable experiences was developing teaching material on historical atrocities. These jobs are tied together by my love for qualitative research, critical analysis, and creative strategy.

In other words– questions, stories, and people.

Sha Sharif
Sha Sharif is an educator, para-academic organiser and programme manager based in Singapore. Her interests include institutional critique, ludic and parodic interventions, anthropologies of and from the margins, vernacular cultures of the Malay and Islamic world, misplaced -stalgies, among others. Through Bras Basah Open, she has conceptualised and materialised art-acad agitations in collaboration with academics, art and activist agents in Singapore. Sha is invested in alternative pedagogies and hopes for a post-classroom future.

Smiha Kapoor
Smiha Kapoor (b. 1997) is an Indian artist and facilitator currently based in Singapore. Her approach to art making is performance-centric through which she extends the personal into realms of drawing, installation, and image-based media.

Interested in notions of building and bridging, she often employs tracing as a conceptual strategy to weave connections across various planes of presumed separations.

She enjoys collaborative practices and is enthusiastic to perform collectively as well as take on challenges individually. She’s confident, eloquent and her creative fervour shines through in all her engagements.

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