Meeting People Is Easy
2017 > Open to public > 1 month > 4 days a week > 2 sessions a day > 3 hours a session > 3 person per session
Meeting People Is Easy (MPIE) is a solo exhibition in the form of an open studio, where an uninterrupted conversation with the audience is as important as the work on display. MPIE treats exhibition as a site for experimentation and collaboration.
MPIE presents unfinished works and ideas in progress, in the space where they are being made. Throughout the project, the studio is rearranged with works added and removed as I find better ways to talk about my process. MPIE uses different platforms to engage the audience with ideas of the creative process. Both during and after the project is concluded, with platforms that are online and offline.
Over the course of the month, I’ve logged about 150+ hours of conversations with 70+ people, from a diverse background. Most of these conversations revolve around art-making and being a full-time visual artist in Malaysia.
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93 posts | 2017 | Writings, Stills and Videos | Dimension Variable
(Selected conversations on practice & process.)
GAN+HAN is a series of transcribed conversations between writer, Tshiung Han See and visual artist, Gan Siong King. Made in conjunction with the open studio, these conversations revolve around the creative process. The casual tone and everyday language are meant to make these conversations about art accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
There are a total of 9 conversations, which are posted on @meeting.people.is.easy
#1 Same-Same But Different
Gan starts to tell me about a work called “Painting Skull Painting” which is made of two paintings (c). The work isn’t in the studio, so he’s using another work, also made of two skull paintings (d) to talk about it.
Han: So one of the images is a skull with some paint information on the side.
Gan: One is a skull (a), and one is a skull (b) with shit on it.
Han: One has shit on it.
Gan: But this (d) is in the Venetian method.
Gan: No, Venetian method. You deal with the tone (e) first then layer in the color (f).
Han: So it's different?
Gan: It’s a classical way of painting, more systematic lah.
Han: No, I mean this is different from the skull paintings.
Gan: Ah, different. But it's the same in the sense that you can see outside the edge of the image.
Han: It's that much more obvious that this one(a) is a painting.
Gan: One is an action, one is an object. “Painting Skull, Skull Painting.” Two different things
(c) Painting Skull Painting 2016 Oil on canvas
(d) Venetian Method 2017 Oil on canvas
#6 On Drafts
Gan: I think the idea of drafts is very common for a writer. You write one draft and then another and then whatnot, nothing unusual. But in painting, you don't think of it as a draft. I mean, at least to me, it's either finished or not finished.
Han: The more drafts you do, the better something can get. Sometimes you might even rewrite something from scratch.
Herbivore / Carnivore 2017 Oil on canvas
Gan: Agreed and actually if we apply that thinking towards an artist or writer's career, even finished works we've done earlier in our career can be seen as drafts. Because they don't represent us completely. They just represent us at a certain point of time in our process, our thinking. Because we evolve.
#9 The Process Is The Product
Han: Do you feel pressure to conceal your unfinished work? Do you feel like there's a need to control how people feel about you? Not sure if that's the right way to say it.
Gan: Not for my open studio, but when I was doing "The Horror, The Horror" it was very important to encounter the work as a whole. I didn't want people to see it until it was done. Even the gallery people didn't see it until it was done. They had an idea of what I was trying to do, but not the work itself.
Han: Because the fear can be very great, for many people. They don’t even like to show their unfinished work. And here you are, showing it off.
Gan: In a way, everything in my studio is in progress, which can be very frustrating for people who are used to seeing only finished works in galleries. There's a lot of leads and no end. There are a few stories in my head (if I'm trying to make it relatable to you, as a writer) and I'm showing people all these different paragraphs and sentences, but it's not done. Each of them can be something of their own, but it's not done. There's value in it, I think the process can be the product. I think if you see the process, maybe the appreciation of the finished work can be deepened. And I’m tired of being afraid.
Paperback with sleeve | full colour | 64 pages | 240mm H × 170mm W | saddle stitch binding | Edition of 500
This publication started out as a catalogue for the exhibition, but became a fun exercise in making something in book form. This is the first time I’m completely hands-on in selecting and working with printers, writers, photographers and designers on a publication. The process stirred my interest in doing more collaborative book projects, as I want to develop what I see as an overlap between a book and my video work. As both are essentially about editing a sequence of flat rectangular frames with data to tell a story.
This publication is designed by and in collaboration with NOWORNEVER and Kenta Chai.
Four Rabbits Talking
(Excerpt from a meandering conversation)
In conjunction with this project, I gathered a few friends to talk about our past collaborations. The conversation revolves around our current thinking about the creative process and also provides a window into the norms and practices of the Malaysian art scene from a decade ago.
On 20th August 2017, four friends, Wong Tay Sy (TS), Chang Yoong Chia (YC), Tan Sei Hon (SH), and Gan Siong King (G), came together to record a conversation about some of the art projects they collaborated on 15 years ago (circa 2000 – 2004). Below is an edited portion of that conversation.
TS: When G talked about studios, other than a space you can see an artist’s artwork, what else is there? Then, I actually remembered how I met YC. Although both of you (YC & G) studied in M.I.A (Malaysian Institute of Art), I didn’t meet you guys until…
YC: KBU (Kolej Bandar Utama).
TS: I met you (YC) in KBU, but I only saw you la. We “really” met through G’s studio. I think that was when we were forming *SpaceKraft. I think G mentioned YC used to work in a gallery, so he’s (YC) got some experiences to share. With SH, I remembered very clearly. It was through Hoy Cheong. G was helping Hoy Cheong, and you (SH) came because you wanted to assist Hoy Cheong right?
SH: Yes, that was actually very interesting.
G: Actually he (SH) just wanted to talk to Hoy Cheong and was forced to help as a precondition…
SH: No la, actually it’s like industrial training, I did mine in Sarawak (Unimas), it was with an art teacher. Basically, I just didn’t want to do much la y’know. So, I followed this teacher, did a bit of mural painting, and just enjoyed the whole period of industrial training la. And then my lecturer, Hasnul (Saidon) said, “Why not you do a short thing with Hoy Cheong?” and contacted him. Hoy Cheong said that he’s got a team of people working for him. So, he (Hoy Cheong) pointed me to your (G) place. That’s how I met the rest of you. What about you (YC)?
YC: We (YC & G) were classmates from MIA and I met you (SH) and TS at G’s studio.
TS: I remembered once, we (with SH) took a bus to G’s house. Do you know why I remember that journey till today?
TS: On the way, we talked and somehow we touched on our Chinese zodiac signs. So I said “Oh ya, G, YC, and me are rabbits,” and then SH said he is also a rabbit. So I looked at him and thought, “You (SH) can’t be (born in the year of the) rabbit, you can’t be 12 years older than me !?”
TS: I thought he (SH) was older. Then he said he was born in 1975, and I was like, “You are the same age as me?” That’s why I remembered that journey.
SH: That’s also what he (G) thought the first time he saw me, “Who is this old dude wearing teenager’s clothes?” and with those sideburns… (!)
YC: I always feel that the work I do, I need to work on it alone. Like, Spacekraft was a weird time for me. Because I felt like, ahmm… I don’t own it, it doesn’t belong to me. I’m just helping out, but I’m happy to help and happy to have helped. But it’s just not my work la. I still prefer to find a place and settle there, and just do my work on my own.
G: What about you SH? In regards to work, then and now. Because at that time we just started our process.
SH: It’s very complicated.
SH: After Spacekraft, I went into music. So, it involved a totally different group of people. And we were not just organizing gigs, we were performing as well. There was a need to step up to do publicity work, and you have to approach people and there are egos involved. Then, there’s also pressure that when you perform in public, you might suck y’know. Actually, my main issue is about control la. From a very fluid way of looking at and working on things, it became more focused. I found it easier to work that way. I only work with a few people that I’m comfortable with and trust can deliver. For example, when I curate a show, I have full control over the space, the catalog, and the people involved in the project, and that is ideal for me. I get to say what I want to say. Writing is my way of having ownership.
Wong Tay Sy (TS) at her workshop.
Chang Yoong Chia (YC) in his studio.
Tan Sei Hon (SH) at his home office.
Gan Siong King (G) in his studio.
G: When did you start writing? I don’t remember you doing that in Spacekraft.
SH: Ya, actually I was forced to write to make a living because you guys had technical skills and did freelance jobs. I don’t have the skills for those jobs. At that time there were people complaining about writers not writing correctly what the artist wanted to say. So I thought, ok la, I have training in fine arts, maybe I can be more emphatic towards artists, maybe I should try my luck and go into writing.
G: What about you TS, why did you stop making visual art stuff?
TS: I just don’t know how to find pleasure in showing works on a wall.All: *Laugh*TS: When I say I don’t find pleasure in seeing my work hanging on a wall, ar…it’s because my relationship with my work becomes so different. I think I enjoy the process of making, whereas a finished piece of artwork on a wall is so… fixed. I can appreciate other people’s artworks, paintings, and all that. I can see growth and a lot of inspiration but for my own work, somehow, I can’t. If an artwork can somehow grow after it is done then maybe… I think theatre is like that, the work is finished by performing it, and every time you perform to a different audience, the energy is different. So it grows. This growing process in the work itself is important to me.
G: What about your organizing or work as a producer?
TS: I became interested in organizing art events. I really enjoy seeing how other people work and talking to them about it. I’ve always wondered if these artists’ processes could be shared in a show, this joy of learning and making. There are all these people around with a passion for making things, and I might not like all their works but I appreciate their efforts in facing themselves every day, to come out with something because that was so difficult for me. So I thought what I can do is to help get these works out into a show. Now, I’m clearer about my role. I actually really enjoy being in a group where people are working together towards something, a collective creative process. And I think the word “collective” is very important to me. I treat every art project as a learning process and… I really enjoy learning la. Anyway, I don’t know how to solve this problem of a fixed work on a wall, because I become very detached.
G: I was talking to a writer friend about drafts. If we look at the bigger picture, all our works can be seen as drafts. Like, Picasso’s early, more realistic works for example. They can be seen as drafts leading toward his later Cubist stuff. This whole… way of working is something I’m interested in. Like, how do you let go and move forward? Accepting that this is the best that I can do at this moment. These are not my best works, as my best is still ahead of me.