Artist Nicola Anthony presents her solo exhibition, the Human Archive Project, to be followed by a UK callout for new British entries to the artist’s archive…
Nicola Anthony, a British artist working in SouthEast Asia, has garnered international acclaim for her work and this year has been working with the Singapore Art Museum, home to one of the most important collections of contemporary art from the region.
Throughout October and early November, this culminates in her solo exhibition, the Human Archive Project, which provides a glimpse into the inner worlds of people from different walks of life - including inmates at the historically resonant Changi Prison where Anthony was invited in to meet and work with inmates as an artist mentor. She reveals the threads of commonalities that exist despite our differences.
As we near November, the artist opens up the digital part of this artwork with an online platform - expanding her story collecting portal to gather stories from the UK public as well as internationally.
“Stories are incredibly complex constructs – a collection of letters and words imbued with communicated and miscommunicated truths. Similar to life: full of billions of little signifiers that coalesce to make a symphony, a lifetime, a universe.”
Commissioned by the Museum
The exhibition Human Archive Project has been commissioned by the museum and consists of a two part presentation. The first series comprises of eight text-based sculptures featuring excerpts of stories shared by people in face to face interviews or online through Anthony’s anonymous portal www.humanarchive.com. Conceived entirely by Nicola Anthony, the Human Archive Project is a platform for research into the stories, social memory and oral history of our global community. It maps different types of human experience and could be said to be the cumulative product of Anthony’s creative journey with strangers’ voices thus far.
The showcase includes 8 individuals in Singapore from the artist’s research archive who are often unable or hesitant to voice their stories. These include inmates at Changi Prison, ex-inmates, the elderly, and chronically ill children. Their stories are woven into 3D clouds of text in sculptural form, made from polycarbonate, aluminium and gold.
The Archive has become a catharsis, a place for difficult admissions and sharing secrets. To read the stories in full or add your own, please visit www.humanarchiveproject.com
Clockwork Moons: How do you experience time?
The second series in the exhibition is entitled Clockwork Moons and focuses on disenfranchised communities and human stories. Anthony has been working alongside communities in Singapore and SouthEast Asia, designing workshops, educational programs, and this year acting as an artist-mentor for a group of inmates at Changi Women’s Prison over three months.
The works showcase the stories Anthony heard from communities who experience time differently. Anthony met prisoners whose lives are on pause whilst time elongates entirely out of their control; families who, due to trauma have difficulty remembering the past; those who have no concept of future because they fear their life may not last another day; and those who are overwhelmed in jobs or situations where they are not in control of their own moments. In each case she has met inspiring individuals who have found the strength to manage their situation by not just being survivors but being overcomers.
The 8 kinetic artworks are created by drawing on korean paper using a burning process to inscribe detailed, realistic depictions. Each piece is mindfully inscribed using an incense stick to perforate the surface and create images in the voids left behind. Each artwork rotates, revealing different sides to each moon, and a light projection which shifts and morphs as the artworks oscillate.
Anthony says, “I hope the Human Archive Project provides a glimpse into the complexity of the cycle of our lives, our experience of time, life passing, and memories morphing. Life is a cycle of beginnings, endings, and re-writings: things change and shift. Against all adversity, our community is full of brave, inspiring and unique individuals who write their own stories”.
This work was made possible through partnerships with H.O.M.E. charity, National University Hospital Children's unit, Changi Women’s prison, Yellow Ribbon Project, and all the individuals who participated and shared their experiences.
Supporting communities through art
Simultaneously at the Singapore Art Museum, the artwork of 17 female inmates will also be exhibited in October, as an exhibition entitled For Better Endings and New Beginnings. This project is the outcome of Anthony’s mentorship, and a collaboration between the Yellow Ribbon Project and Singapore Art Museum which connects inmates with artists. This process has allowed the inmates to express themselves, to have a moment of creative freedom in an otherwise extremely difficult existence, and to tell their stories: providing a powerful glimpse into the lives of those in society whose voices we do not often hear.
To further engage with the public, Anthony will be providing four special workshops at the Singapore Art Museum, where she will share some of her techniques used in the Human Archive Project, and guide people to make their own artwork.
Your story counts too!
- A call out to public to have your story showcased
Add your story to the Human Archive Project, which is now specifically inviting Nicola’s home audience - the UK - to join in. New stories are featured every day on the online archive, a digital artwork, and will also be printed out into a book which is growing day by day and is part of the exhibition at Singapore Art Museum. Nicola Anthony invites you to contribute your own story at humanarchiveproject.com.
Human Archive Project
by Nicola Anthony
6– 29 October 2017, open daily 10:00–19:00
SAM at 8Q, 8 Queen Street, Singapore 188535
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