The Island Postcards
8 - 17 December 2023, 11am to 7pm
"The Island Postcards" is a research artwork exploring themes of identity, history, absence, and displacement through a captivating photo-postcard installation.
Inspired by the tales of exiles, the artwork presents a narrative of a fictional character exiled to a southern Singaporean island. The island was once home to indigenous coastal communities, surviving on fishing, farming, and coral trade. However, the 1970s marked a rapid depopulation due to economic shifts and national development.
The fictional exile, reflecting on the island's beauty and the local inhabitants' stories, communicates his experiences to his wife through a series of postcards. These postcards offer a poignant account of a place and people facing resettlement.
The installation serves as the exile's island diary, exploring themes of home, nostalgia, and resettlement. The artwork comprises a grid of photo-postcards, each displaying images captured by the exile himself—landscapes, people, architecture. On the reverse side, short letters to his wife reveal his thoughts and emotions during exile.
Positioned diagonally across the exhibition space on transparent perspex or glass, the installation prompts visitors to move around the panel. The grid showcases the image side of the postcards, while the other side presents the exile's text. This unique portrayal invites viewers to engage with the narrative and emotions surrounding the island's transformation.
"The Island Postcards" encapsulates the essence of a displaced soul's journey, inviting contemplation on the interplay of memory, place, and personal connection.
About the Artist(s)
Green Zeng is a multi-disciplinary artist from Singapore. HIs art practice explores issues of historiography and identity, and examines how history is scripted, perceived and disseminated.
His earlier work focused on areas such as marginalised and alternative histories within the context of student activism and left politics on the tumultuous road to independence. His work also explores the connection between the archives, the State and the individual, and the role that an artist plays in truth-telling.
Zeng’s recent work explores the connection between truth, power and resistance. He is interested in Foucault’s notion of “fictions are experiments in truth” and how fiction allow us to imagine an “alternative interpretation of the present”.
In 2015, his debut feature film, The Return, made its international premiere in competition at the 30th Venice International Film Critics’ Week. Zeng has also directed short films such as Blackboard Whiteshoes, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, and Passenger, which in the same year was awarded the Encouragement Prize at the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Competition in Tokyo.
As a practicing artist, Zeng has exhibited widely in Singapore and abroad. In 2012, he was a Finalist for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in Hong Kong. In 2014, he was nominated for the Asia Pacific Breweries Signature Art Prize. He won the Bronze Award in the 36th UOB Painting of the Year (Established Artist Category) in 2018. His most recent solo exhibition Notes for the Future was held at Art Outreach, Singapore in 2021. In 2020, he was an Artist in Resident at the NTU-CCA Singapore Residencies Programme.