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Sunday, September 13, 2009

JAN LEEROY NEW : 2009 ATENEO ART AWARDS SHORT-LISTED


JAN LEEROY NEW – “Teratoma II: War Of the Worlds” at the Singapore Biennale 2008


New’s teratoma was exactly that, jutting out like an organic growth on top of Singapore’s City Hall during the 2008 Singapore Biennale. To some habitués of this bustling city state, the humongous fiberglass tumor was a stranger sight than the alien figures surrounding it, emanating it seems from the saucer-shaped dome of the building. A shared language is at work here, an unquestioned memory shaped by science fiction and extra-terrestrial fascinations.

Such a figuration of aliens serve an expected prototype, but to this artist, aliens are part of his exploration of hybrid forms where deities and supernatural beings from various cultures meld into curious creatures that nonetheless retain the iconic pose and placements of their origins. The stance paradoxically reconnects us with its intrinsic narratives, the world of myths made tangible and explored anew through accessible industrial-grade materials.

Subject to the play of biennale tastes and motives, the installation emitted an appealing universality; but further on, the challenge of fastening the work on top of a state edifice takes on enduring themes of justice, heroism and struggle. Science and fiction is a paradoxical mix, but as New opines, this is part of the human exercise of explaining the unexplainable. It is a mythology that continues to contemporary times, just as there will always be constructs to attain the unattainable.


Notes by Karen Ocampo Flores


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