Dream of the Day


The exhibition title, Dream of the Day, draws from the 1965 manifesto of the Philippine-born artist David Medalla, well regarded for his long-lasting influence in the British and global contemporary art scene since the sixties. His work, as well as those of 38 other artists from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Egypt, and Malaysia are included in this exhibition which explores a range of media, genres, and sensibilities— from surrealism, slow cinema and trans-performance, to queer photography and feminist painting.

Dream of the Day questions how the presence of dreams, monsters, myths, hybrids, omens, spirits, and fantasies evoked in this assemblage of artworks sits in the context of contemporary Southeast Asia, where modern life typically centres around notions of realism, humanism and nationality. The exhibition puts its faith in disbelief and speculation, exploring how modern and contemporary art from Southeast Asia, by seeing through sensible forms, is able to examine and interpret the realities of everyday life through the use of visual imagery that goes beyond the conventional and familiar. In doing so, the exhibition proposes the possibility of different forms of intelligence and instinct that might be more responsive to a wider range of life-forms which exist in a vaster inter-species, transgenic world.

The practice of image-making in Southeast Asia in both the modern and contemporary art fields has been marked by a struggle with the idealizations of nature and identity, and has given rise to an over-investment in images that are both created and critiqued primarily in light of colonialism and global mediatization. What the exhibition gestures towards instead is a possible imagination that is not too beholden to this particular tradition of criticality, even as it persists in engaging with the political and social concerns of the day .

This possible imagination is the “dream of the day.” It is an evocation of a current condition and at the same time a kind of plea, instruction, or a call to action. It is an endeavour to overcome the dualism of critique – where the practice of critique is inextricably bound to, and may even inadvertently reinforce the object of its critique. This condition of dualism has over time tended to preclude other ways of prefiguring new transformative horizons for art and the imagination.

Mingling works from modernism as well as from contemporary art, the exhibition aims finally to create a lively sensorium, a place where the viewer can desire to dream – for is this not the impulse and potential of why we are drawn to exhibitions? It is nothing less than the exposure to the elements.

Date: 22 Nov 2022 (Tuesday) to14 May 2023 (Sunday)
Venue: Ilham Gallery
Time: 11am - 7pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays), 11am - 5pm (Sunday)

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