Manipulations of light and water, sound and dimension play across the surfaces of “Disappearing Moon,” a joint exhibition by artists Genevieve Chua and Emma Critchley. The multidisciplinary artists are the 2012 participants of the nascent Artist-in-Residence Exchange program launched in 2011 as a partnership between the British Council Singapore and the Singapore International Foundation.
Chua, a young Singaporean photographer and installation artist, creates ominous landcapes and abstractions, while British artist Critchley, an established underwater photographer, explores analogies between water and language. Despite their dissimilar subject matters, the two artists share a profound sensitivity to light—particularly, diffused and reflected moonlight. This theme inspired the creation of three collaborative pieces, accompanied by various solo works.
The collaborations include Disappearing Moon (2012), a triptych of framed photographs taken on the same night during a full moon, where Chua, in Singapore, and Critchley, in the United Kingdom, captured their respective shorelines. These three seascapes are arranged as a series that feature illuminated waves and clouds as well as a radiant rock that hovers like an eroded moon above the sea. In Glistening Twigs Undersea (2012), six small photographic prints on steel record light flitting across foliage and water, while the star charts of Sterno (2012) appear to be charged with antiquarian and mystical meaning. In fact, the maps are nothing more than blotches of coffee the artists spit onto paper.
The charts are a reflection of Chua’s series 72 (2012), which is comprised of 42 letterpress prints of geomancy die commonly used in divination. While Chua’s precise sketches appear authentic, the angles of each dice are intentionally flawed, making the readings as deceptive as the imaginary stars in Sterno.
Critchley in her work also captures distortions: those caused by light diffracted underwater. Critchley’s video There is nothing in Language, which has not come from the Senses (2012) records a submerged man who speaks the title of the piece, masses of gorgeous bubbles flowing from his mouth. This moment of deliverance is again captured in Figures of Speech Series 2 (2012), a photographic triptych of women underwater, expelling immense, glassy globules of undisclosed words that cover their faces. The water language is as obscure and unknown as the logic of Chua’s false die.
Indeed, the influences of Chua’s broken images of dice and Critchley’s amorphous bubbles are evident in the hanging rock of Disappearing Moon as well as in the false radiance of Sterno—fusions of images that are as elusive as moonlight.
The show premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICAS) at LaSalle College of the Arts and has since traveled to London’s Asia House Gallery where it will be open until March 28.
Marybeth Stock is a writer, researcher and editor based in Singapore and Japan.