While archives are built to order and preserve our sense of time, how do artists and filmmakers make a “new” sense of time out of past materials? Nestled within ‘The Archive’ at National Archives of Singapore (NAS) is a presentation by artist-archivist Koh Nguang How (SG) using his personal collection of materials on performance art, a reading room by artist-filmmaker Toh Hun Ping (SG) on his film research, a showcase of short films by pioneering filmmaker Rajendra Gour (SG) from the 1960-70s as well as a special section by Asian Film Archive (AFA) on their film preservation efforts.

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Time Show: Archiving Performance Art in the Singapore Art Archive Project (2020)
Newspapers, digital photographs, cassettes and printed matter

Time Show: Archiving Performance Art in the Singapore Art Archive Project is a work of over 1,000 archival materials relating to Singapore’s performance art history by artist and independent archivist Koh Nguang How. Responding to the National Archives as a site where knowledge and history is produced, Koh proposes how an archive of performance art in Singapore may be organised, displayed and activated. Tracing the artistic representation of the physical body in Singapore’s performance art community from the 1980s onwards, the response is premised on time as a key basis of performance and its passage as seen through durational performances that began with The Artists Village 24-hour continuous performance event The Time Show (1989/90), and led to a series of New Year events such as Body Fields (1991/92) a 12-hour show organised by 5th Passage, and The Artists’ General Assembly (AGA) 12-hour New Year Show (1993/94) and many others. Unfolding through an evolving display of photographs, clippings and printed matter that act as indices to the otherwise intangible and ephemeral field of performance art, the work offers a re-look at the body as medium and demonstrates Koh’s deeper interests towards the registers involved in the presentation and interrogation of performance art in Singapore.

Artist will be featured in the talk A Window into Performance Art History: SAAP Open Studio on 18 January. Please click on link for more details.

Artist Biography
Koh Nguang How’s artistic practice began in 1988 and encompasses photography, collage, installation, performance, documentation, archiving and curating. Click to read more He started to exhibit art archives from 1992 and initiated his Singapore Art Archive Project (SAAP) in 2005; subsequently presented various thematic works and exhibitions under the SAAP. 3rd Singapore Biennale in 2011, residency at the inaugural NTU CCA Residencies at Gillman Barracks in 2014-15 presenting 4 exhibitions under the Singapore Art Archive Project @ Centre for Contemporary Art,including SAAP@CCA, Shui Tit Sing – 100 Years of an Artist through his Archives, Time Show 2015 and Six Decades of Singapore Art Ephemera. He has also presented the The Artists Village Archives in SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now at the National Art Center, Tokyo and Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in 2017 and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in 2019. Read Less
Harbinger (2020)
Reading room, books, paper, monitors, canvas and chalk wall
New commission

Harbinger is a filmic project that seeks to retrace, uncover and respond to the historical narratives of Sino-anarchistic pursuits in early 20th century Singapore and Malaya using appropriated footage from filmic and documentary archives as well as passages from Malayan-Chinese literature (马华文学). For Rushes of Time, the work-in-progress is presented as a ‘reading room’ or 书报社 (translated as ‘a library of books and newspapers’) at the historic National Archives of Singapore building. The artist’s personal archive of films and literature attempts to gather and make available lesser-known or forgotten documents, both real and fictive, of 20th century colonial Malaya. The network of ideas and stories drawn from these materials will play out as a live map, sketched progressively onto a canvas by the artist in the installation space over the period of the exhibition, during which visitors are also invited to contribute. In so doing, the work tries to make sense of the emotions and sentiments of those seeking personal revolution and collective resistance as colonial subjects in a time of social unjust and turbulence.

Artist will be featured in the talk Order and Disorder: Cinema and the Archive on 1 February. Please click on link for more details.

Artist Biography
Toh Hun Ping is a video artist and film researcher based in Singapore. Click to read more His experimental video works express broad themes of resistance, travel, time, loss, and mental instability, and have been presented at international film festivals such as the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival, and Paris Festival of Different and Experimental Cinemas. Most recently, he presented Dance of a Humble Atheist, his first solo exhibition at Objectifs, Singapore (2019). As a film researcher, Hun Ping is interested in the history of film production in early-mid 20th century Singapore. He runs the Singapore Film Locations Archive. a private video collection of films made in Singapore, and maintains a website about Singapore film locations (sgfilmlocations.com). Read Less
The short films of Rajendra Gour (1967 - 1979)
16mm film converted to digital film, 41 min
Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat: 3pm - 7pm
Sun: 3pm - 5pm

Rajendra Gour signed up as a volunteer with the Asian Film Archive (AFA) in 2006. This was when the Archive made an important discovery – that Gour was a filmmaker and was possibly Singapore’s earliest independent short filmmaker. The AFA now preserves Gour’s surviving 16mm film prints and has embarked on making the works of this pioneer short filmmaker known and accessible. Labour of Love – The Housewife was published in AFA’s short film anthology DVD, Singapore Shorts Vol.2 in 2008. In 2018, the AFA restored Gour’s 16mm film, Sunshine Singapore.

Eyes (1967)
This is an experimental film that explores the pain and suffering in the world caused by a lack of understanding amongst mankind. All of this is viewed through the “eyes” of the people of the world.

Labour of Love – The Housewife (1978)
This short film examines the role of the Asian woman within the realm of the home and the family. It features the endless amount of work that a housewife must accomplish daily to run a household and to care for her family. The film is an early feminist take on the perception regarding the economic value of the stay-at-home mother and wife, whose contribution to society is often underrated.

My Child My Child (1979)
The film begins with a woman reflecting about her role as a person and as a mother. Her love and the sacrifices she have made for her children are evident and she has many happy memories of her time spent with them.

Sunshine Singapore (1972)
Sunshine Singapore pairs lurid, dream-like visuals of 1970s Singapore with music which leads the viewer through a variety of moods – oscillating between the languid and exotic, to the unfailingly upbeat – embodying the contradictions facing a nation on the cusp of modernity. In a departure from the detached quality of black-and-white archival footage, Gour offers a hopeful imagination of Singapore then and showcases his playful infatuation with its urban environment. A 4K restoration of Sunshine Singapore was made possible using the surviving 16mm film print preserved by the Asian Film Archive and restored by Cineric Inc. in 2018. 

Artist Biography

Born in 1940 in the small town of Dhariwal in Punjab, India, Rajendra Gour is possibly Singapore’s earliest independent short filmmaker. Click to read more After his graduation from the Film Institute of India, he came to Singapore in 1964 to work as a senior film editor at Radio and Television Singapore (RTS). Upon saving up enough money for equipment and film stock, he purchased a 16 mm film camera and learnt how to use it. His first film, Mr. Tender Heart was completed in 1965 and was screened at the Commonwealth Film Festival, London. He made three more short films – Eyes (1967), Sunshine Singapore (1972), and A Labour of Love – The Housewife (1977). Gour also wrote an original story and shooting script for Cathay-Keris Films and the theatrical feature Aku Mahu Hidup was made in 1970. Read Less


In this special display, the Asian Film Archive (AFA) presents materials that will inundate your senses while providing an insight into the preservation work of the archive. From sour, mouldy and crumbling film, crackling audio, restored gems, daily objects and specialised tools, audiences can discover the AFA’s collection and better understand film archival practices.