In Conversation with Curator, Syaheedah Iskandar

Syaheedah Iskandar portrait

Syaheedah Iskandar is the IMPART Awards 2020 winner and an independent curator who works with vernacular ideas of visuality within Southeast Asia. Her projects aim to unpack knowledges that inform and counter hegemonic systems of seeing, while exploring collaborative ways of presenting.

In this post, we speak with Syaheedah about her latest exhibition, An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season, which she was invited to curate at National Gallery Singapore as part of Proposals for Novel Ways of Being, a collective response by the visual arts community to the global pandemic and its impact on the community.

The title, Proposal for Novel Ways of Being, recognises the critical situation we are experiencing, while noting, that Covid-19 is not the first global crisis the world has encountered, and will not be the last. The exhibitions in this project suggest how we can adapt, and how new ways of existing are possible, necessary even, as we evolve.

An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season looks into contemporary art practices that highlights local articulations that mirror the many undercurrents the world is grappling in light of the pandemic. The exhibition features ten local artists Aki Hassan, Clara Lim, Fajrina Razak, Ila, Izzad Radzali Shah, Kin Chui, Norah Lea, Sufian Samsiyar, TiniAliman, and IMPART Awards 2019’s Visual Artist winner, Priyageetha Dia.

Source: National Gallery Singapore

Congratulations on the opening of your exhibition! Can you share a bit about the inspiration and curatorial process behind An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season?

SI: Truthfully, the idea came from the headspace of being in a pandemic, which translates into the “glitch” that we are experiencing. Apart from disrupting global routines, the pandemic spotlighted pre-existing issues that have been swept under the rug for a long time. In these past few months, there have been rigorous questions about the ill-effects of globalization, our unsustainable modus operandi, the climate crisis, an upsurge on tackling systemic racism, to name a few. We saw these issues exploding like ticking time bombs during the escalation of COVID-19.