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The Word Collector – Nicola Anthony
by karenmitchell | March 2013
The act of collection can be an obsession or merely a hobby. With all these words in your possession, whether you know the author personally or not, they are priceless. Karen Mitchell find out what’s behind the thoughts and voices of the audiences in The Word Collection Project.
Nicola Anthony is new to the Singapore art scene, but she has quickly sank into the art market here, bringing inspiring colours and movements to share. Her recent display was featured at minimART 4.0 at the Substation, where she filled one corner with her Word Collection.
She has this ongoing Word Collection Project that aims to gather stories and secrets from online and offline audiences, giving people the chance to make themselves the subject, and capturing the voice of that audience. Existing primarily as an evolving text artwork, the Word Collection can be read and added to online, or as a sculptural interactive performance at exhibitions. It has been performed in London, has travelled to LA, and now it is in Singapore.
In the corner of the gallery, the textural sculpture hangs quietly. Standing closer, you could ‘hear’ the thoughts and whispers of others. Sounds a bit creepy? Not at all, as all these words are contributed by many people, some friends, some strangers, anyone who wants to mention their thoughts in public. On the little tags, anyone is welcome to write down their feelings, their ideas and perhaps their secrets. It may first appear as a stationary installation of words, but you can ‘listen’ to these words as you walk through the gallery. A moving sculpture wearing these words is walking around (artists and performer Yen Phang), interacting with the audience. Very cleverly executed, I was amused by not just able to read the collection of words, but to ‘hear’ them, and ‘see’ them moving.
Nicola shared that she started the project in her university years and she had students or anyone who walked by her cubicle-studio, to joint down words on this big piece of paper pinned on the wall. Unfortunately she did not keep that piece of paper after she has collected the words on it. Then she moved on to having a physical dropbox outside her cubicle, and anyone could drop her words. Now, with the advance social media tools of Twitter and Facebook, everyone could send her words within seconds, even miles away. These words are anonymous, ironically, present themselves almost like the status update we have now on our Facebook. Nicola started this collection way before the invention of Facebook and it is just exciting to know that.
The act of collection can be an obsession or merely a hobby. With all these words in your possession, whether you know the author personally or not, they are priceless, I feel. NICOLA IS RICH. These words have so much potential; they can be developed into many different forms and ideas. I am glad to have the chance to see the work, to meet Nicola, and I hope to see more entities of the Word Collection in the future.
Go to http://www.nicolaanthony.co.uk/word-collection-project/ to read more about Nicola Anthony’s Word Collection and her other projects.
Saturday 23 March 2013, 2pm to 8pm
Sunday 24 March 2013, 12pm to 8pm
The Substation Gallery, 45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936
About the artist
Nicola Anthony is an artist & art critic based in Singapore & London, working internationally. In 2012, she exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery Project Space (London), the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (USA), and featured in shows around London and LA. Nicola Anthony has received sponsorship from Tate Britain, & exhibited in Tate Modern’s ‘No Soul for Sale’. Alongside her artistic practice, Nicola also curates and creates art events and happenings to champion the arts, and is proactive in both the London and Singapore art worlds.
Using words as sculptural materials, & sentences as lines with which to draw, Nicola Anthony has a fascination with messages, narratives & text. Her practice is inspired by literary sources, deconstructing & reconstructing, mapping & memory, as well as the structure & understanding of language.
Her materials & subjects can be diverse, but are linked by her desire to illuminate the little things that comprise the whole: The fragile constructs, moments & complexities that go unnoticed unless we look from a different angle. It is this concern that often instils a multilayered intricacy to her practice.
Photographs by Nicola Anthony
Written and photographs editing by Karen Mitchell