Artists in the News : Koh Nguang How


Reported by Wee Lung

Artists In The News, Koh Nguang How’s work, is an explosion of newspapers, of words and images, of facts and opinions. It’s, as everyone knows by now, three decades worth of art reportage (mainly visual arts) in the English and Chinese newspapers.You feel a sense of astonishment inside the space given at SAM 8Q . The ubiquity of newspapers is elevated and transformed into sheer visual force, one that urges you to take upon closer look. 

He is an artist, archivist, and curator who has been documenting and collecting materials relating to contemporary art in Singapore since the late 1980s. Koh’s documentation of the Artists Village between 1989 and 1999 has become a significant historical resource. In 2005 he established the Singapore Art Archive Project, presenting a selection from it as part of SB2011. Based on the extensive collection that swamps his HDB flat, and a trove of art news clipped from Singapore’s English and Chinese language newspapers, Koh will set up within the gallery an active archival laboratory that replicates the configuration of his apartment. The project merges personal research, private and public space, and public enquiry materials.

His Philosophy is in such a way that he wanted to open his eyes on knowledge through newspaper-cutting,catalogue etc.When he became independent researcher artist, he realized that he needs to continue to learn the history of Singapore, otherwise he could not cope with his independent demand works. He is interested in Art History as a theme for Arts Practice that includes accumulating whatever knowledge is current, everyday what is happening would also become old in the future. He learned over the newspaper everyday, that is good enough for him to accumulate knowledge.

When he proposed his work for Singapore Biennale 2011 this year, his idea has always been young artist, contemplorary artists in different period of history,So if you look at newspaper, they have contemplorary artists, contemplorary exhibition etc.

So his intention of his artwork is to show the contemplorary artists, which people normally refer to young artists and artists who are current want to show them in history they were also contemplorary artist, contemplorary Arts. Hopefully, in Biennale’s Period, he wished to meet people who has the needs to help him extend the life of discollection and archive. 

He has his own criteria, and it’s quite random, too. A piece of news comes up, and then the next piece, which is related, goes up next to it. A third one, if it’s not related, goes to another wall. In the end, he has several groupings. The audience would see the relationship if they look at the news next to one another. He did not  put captions here and there. I guess maybe we wants to portray there are infinite possibilities ways of perceiving Singapore Arts  if we try to piece unrelated information with a logical connector to categorise every piece of information together. Furthermore, having all these archives will also promote learning and sharing, that not many materials are available to the schools and libraries.

Interestingly, the way he arranged the newspapers in the form of circular surrounded with different sorts of pens suggest to me the diversity of gathering every single piece of information from articles accodomate and maximize our knowledge (just like a piece of full cakes vesus portion of empty cakes). Another cute way of treating newspapers in the form of rain drops straightforward touch my inner feerlings and experience of  ‘Save for a rainy day’ and ‘ Accumulate every single moment of  life yield precious wealth’ that kind of consensus.


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