Mudskipper by Sharon Chin

I seldom have a good time at an art show. Maybe it’s my fault. I am an introvert. I usually go on opening night. I psych myself up an hour before and still end up intimidated, anxious and bored when I get there. Thing is, I love art, and I love people. So, why the hell?

The thought of people feeling the same way at MY shows… just makes me sad. WEEDS/RUMPAI was the first solo show I did after moving to Port Dickson. It was time to rethink it all. I had to make a show I would 1) enjoying doing, 2) want to go to and 3) have fun at.

This is how I hacked everything I thought an exhibition had to be:

1. Treat it as an experiment

Artists take all kinds of risks making their work – chasing ideas, finding ways to say what we want to say. Ironically, the risk-taking stops when it comes to showing art. We rely on existing structures: the established gallery, press release, VIP previews for collectors, cocktail reception. Why do we give up the driver’s seat so suddenly and so completely at this stage of the process?

Thinking about exhibitions as process, not outcome, forced me to extend the spirit of enquiry all the way to the end. For example, why are we seeing so few new faces at art shows, year after year? Sigh and accept ‘that’s how it is’, OR try something freaky to shake it up? For the first time in years, I found myself thinking ‘IT MAY NOT WORK’ again and again. It scared me. I also knew that this feeling is what makes art risky, vital and necessary.

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