Friendly Strangers Party is a text-based installation that addresses hazy memory and fleeting encounters. It is an inventory of words or deeds of a select group of people whom the artist Michael Lee has met in his life. Almost always singular and brief, each meeting nonetheless lurks in the artist’s mind, though he is unable to confidently ascertain the strangers’ intentions or recall ever asking for their names. The work is realised as a collection of pennant flags bearing texts that refer to each encounter. Distilled into the present tense and appearing across both sides of a flag, each textual account reads like a campaign’s call to action. Together, the flags invite remixes and new readings of the interactions, and of a psychological party that is not ending anytime soon.
Museum on Art is a 3-dimensional anamorphic diagram of a hypothetical art museum of the future. The cloud outlines suggest the importance of daydreaming possibilities despite limitations and constraints. Below the cloud are rains of icons referring to details of this imaginary museum: missions, functions, programmes, amenities and facilities.
Where do stories begin / Where do stories end is a two-part, text-based and site-specific installation that invites us to consider the notion of history as a series of layered stories that unfold and fold into one another perpetually. The two parts of the title prompt us to reflect on what we know (or what we think we know) of Singapore’s founding history, and to consider how stories in history are always purposefully framed with specific beginnings and ends. Who decides on where a story starts and ends? What more could we learn from other perspectives yet to be heard or explored? How do we begin to tell our own stories—of ourselves, of places, people, and things that surround us; and what would their endings be?
How are things greets stadium users, HDB residents and MRT commuters with a casual question. Realised using holographic stickers, which are often used in security systems, this large-scale text installation poses further questions about what it means to communicate sensitively for mutual flourishing.
18 autobiographical mind maps by 10 seniors, led by Michael Lee
Artist Michael Lee led a group of ten seniors to create personal maps and diagrams that were inspired by their milestones in life. The first 4 of 8 workshops – each lasting 3 hours – were spent on mindmapping exercises of self-investigation. In Week 5, participants visited the National Gallery Singapore and National Museum of Singapore to see actual works of art. Weeks 6 and 7 were consultations between Lee and each senior to refine their final projects, which were presented in Week 8’s Show-and-Tell.
LED ropes and LED tubes, 195 x 315 x 55 cm (vitrine dimensions)
Developed during his residency at NTU CCA Singapore, Creatif Compleks (2018) is the culmination of Michael Lee’s reflection on the function of the artist’s studio within the arts ecology of a city. The work takes the form of a diagram about a hypothetical property development consisting of various configurations of the artist’s home/studio. The use of LED light strips, a popular fixture in advertising and interior design, alludes to latent apprehensions about the development and promotion of the arts in Singapore which today are, arguably, at a feverish pitch. Informed by myths and fantasies of artists in their studios, the work takes a speculative leap into the utopian and the absurd.
A Chat with Lee Sze-Chin
Recorded January 12, 2017; Posted May 1, 2018
In this chat in his HDB flat, where renovation was in progress, at Sengkang, Singapore, the artist, art therapist and art educator Lee Sze-Chin shares with Michael Lee about what he saw as his "sheltered" childhood experiences; multiple formal trainings in art, nursing and art therapy; and his plan to renovate his HDB flat into a home and community arts space.
Listen on Soundcloud
More on the upcoming workshop under Silver Arts 2018: artsforall.sg/initiatives/silver…magic-markers.aspx
More on the interviewee: szechinlee.wixsite.com/portfolio
© 2017 Lee Sze-Chin and Michael Lee
All rights reserved.
Essay / Artist's Statement
Part of the catalogue of the art project, "The Consolations of Museology", as documented in Lilian Chee (Ed.), Foundations: The Consolations of Museology (Singapore: Studio Bibliotheque, 2008), pp. 1-8.
Mizuma Gallery, Singapore
25 Sep - 25 Oct 2015
Michael Lee invites 7 sets of artists (Adeline Kueh, Ho Rui An, Homa Shajoie, Jennis Li Cheng Tien, Michael Lee, Perception3 and Robert Zhao) to exhibit works that relate with the nation-state of Singapore obliquely and reflectively.
Emulsion on wall, polyurethane on PVC, enamel on galvanized iron, 294 x 650 cm.
The artwork title describes the black-and-yellow stripes rendered on the wall and PVC curtains that together form a paradox: a hazard symbol that is visible only upon passing through.
Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore
Gallery & Studio;
Emulsion on aluminium square hollow section tube and plastic joints, dimensions variable.
This series of treehouse frameworks hovers about architectural elements: around a pillar, off a corner. Abstracted down to 3D drawings, these frameworks are aimed at stirring imaginations of solitary spaces.