Chewing Gum Paintings
Situation: Collaborations, collectives & artist networks from Sydney, Singapore & Berlin
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
6 June to 21 August 2005
I was living in London between 1990 and 1992. For two years I had not read any news about Singapore. On New Year’s Day 1992 I found the first news in the London newspapers about Singapore. It was a small obscure column with the headlines, “Singapore bans chewing gum on New Year’s Eve”. A partial lift of the ban was enacted after some negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement in 2004, which allows use under medical prescription.
The reason for this ban had been cited in various reports and hearsay in a wide variety of forms and reason. Reference have always been made to Singapore’s reputation of being a tightly legislated “nanny state”, intolerant of any deviance or anti-social behaviors.
I presented canvases with a monochrome painted over some unfinished paintings, leaving a border showing the painting underneath as a visual representation of marginalization. A situation I find myself in as an artist struggling to find acceptance in society. Like chewing gum that is seen as harmless or even an added pleasure in most societies but due to some negative use or effects have been banned in Singapore.
Chewing gum is provided in the gallery for the public to chew and use the chewed gum as material to form images on the painting surfaces. By using it in a creative process may help to re-establish chewing gum as not an anti-social activity and not be always seen in its negative light.