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New Agendas for

An Old Paradigm

A series of installation works staged and photographed amidst ongoing musings on subjects around these objects

A set of found objects is approached from an energetic perspective, addressed and transformed from their original function to reveal another narrative, imbued with new meanings far from its intended use. The re-workings of these abandoned objects celebrate the qualities of the common thing and invite us to pay fresh attention to the world they come from. 


For this work titled DEATH PROOF, a group of 1930s automobile headlamps, apprehended part way through the process of decay and re-presented, offers insights to the various pursuits of humankind’s activities - in a historical, present and future context. The re-appropriated forms become the focus of a study of the subtle and ephemeral traces of an age that defines the one we currently live in - the anthropocene, a geological age that marks the extent of human activities on the earth’s ecosystems. 


At times with an economy, wit and light touch, this unlikely bunch of objects invites us to be alert, to participate, to converse. It is an amazement beyond the nostalgic that draws us to these characters each with their untold stories, along the historical timeline and within the larger cosmological order. We become involved in our own fascination. By animating them through various arrangements, we discover the charged space of the ritualistic, and somewhere within these stagings and titlings a platform to prod our dispositions and enact our preoccupations - of the post-industrial and our interconnectedness to each other, nature and the ephemeral forces of the unseen. 


Jasmine Chen and Andrei Jewell

New Agendas for An Old Paradigm - Landings, Orbit, Transit, Obsidian, Dorothy, Cloud, The Living and the Dead, Four Tribes, Field, The Distance of the Moon, Anthropocene curated and photographed by Andrei Jewell, except Gathering, Third Orbit, The Lightness of Being curated and photographed by Jasmine Chen.


From Shells to Totems

The process of restoring deteriorating objects while preserving their existing appearance... 


We found these objects on a journey through magnificent landscapes. We brought them back, and we find ourselves on another journey, once again through magnificent landscapes, landscapes etched on these metal shells, traversing across space and time.

These headlamps served out their purpose as functional parts of a vehicle and as significant appendages to the symbol of prestige the automobile in its heyday represented. Now old and defunct, their reality enters another phase as they are left in the open junkyard for years to come. Working with these found objects is a profound insight into the forces of nature at play. The effects of the weather on the deteriorating metal worn out through the accumulation of time is an irreversible and irretrievable passage. 


Thus began a rigorous process of uncovering, restoring, probing, wondering, that eventually transformed these abandoned shells into totemic objects. Sorting them out from an anonymous pile of rusty wreck and individualising them, these shells in their restored state under a polished coat of lacquer, become spellbound with new narratives emerged from their histories, unravelling through layers of textures and colours. 


Detached from the body it used to serve, the conical object reclaims its form, at the same time reconstructing its identity. Function dissolves into the auric, transcending its own state becoming timeless and therefore Death Proof.

...also a microcosmic journey across an other universe

The relentless process of smoothening every bit of unevenness means one has to track the entire surface of these metal shells, until all terrains are explored and rough areas flattened. Revisiting them again and again, each time a new trip, each trip new findings. Soon these trips begin to have an effect on the mind, body and soul. The mind becomes meditative, the body strained, and the soul senses a rarefied encounter, an unusual finding of beauty in these seemingly unruly layers of paint, rust, peels, scratches, dents, dirt, mould, that has accumulated with age. 


Scanning across the surface and at the same time drawn into the details, it is a stupendous moment between savouring and devouring, between a wild dance and esoteric knowledge. In this sublime flurry we begin to examine and adore these as art itself. In this sense, this is not a creative process of making in as much as it is one of revealing. The journeys across these microcosmic landscapes have made art out of these objects and the art in turn brings forth the artist.


The meticulous working on these battered shells becomes delightful days where we come across creatures we recognise or imagine, as stories begin to form through these markings, some we see again and again, some flashing by and are gone. The odd camel with red lips, the silver royal poodle, the savage soldier with flag and mask, crossing the yellow seas, new creatures of the marshland and the stone sky.


Jasmine Chen, 2013


Jasmine Chen and a part time team worked on restoring the gang of 84 headlamps (in batches of 12, 36, 36) over a period of 20 months, on and off, and were completed in December 2014. They were given names and made their inaugural show in December 2015 in Singapore. 


The pieces of sandpaper bear testimony to the many hours of labour which became a dedicated endevour and _____ experience for the team: John Osborne, Alex Mann, Velu, Syazreen Mazlan, Adilah Abdullah, Amin, Hasnani Azman, Choo Min Min, Lim Wei Ling.

Forensics of the Land


Photographic works documenting the effects of elements of nature on surfaces left to decay

A lonely dirt road cuts through the empty space of a windswept volcanic plateau. The bare markings that leave a trace of where automobiles traverse the earth’s surface. I am moved by the scudding skies and icy winds of this primal landscape and what it reveals in a cemetery for abandoned vehicles.


This series is about observing traces that map the markings by the weather and made visible on the faded painted surfaces of discarded automobiles. Early relics of the anthropocene that mark our current epoch, like spectres at the dawn of the sixth mass extinction. Photographing these surfaces is an attempt to record something of our planet’s current milieu, like a set of time-rubbings. Here nature is actively at work painting with her own hand upon the industrial. Its surface becoming both an entropic canvas and a frame through which to view our current age, one created by oil, metal and man.


Uncovered in an isolated junkyard, each vehicle and its surface reveals itself as a kind of time capsule. A date, a make, a model found in its current state of decay, containing memories of lives and stories from unknown journeys through forgotten topographies. Their decaying surfaces reveal virtual maps to the world they inhabit and perhaps more deeply the subconscious forces of human endeavour that they in turn might represent. 


These surfaces also reveal something beyond a simple record of the traces of humankind to represent themselves more pointedly, in a self reflexive way, towards the art of painting, here made by the clouds themselves to form a miniature view of the landscape they have been discovered in and to which they are returning to. Presenting within themselves a type of abstract view of a very weird country.


Andrei Jewell, 2013

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