The art of adapting to change
With the pandemic and global travel restrictions in place, LASALLE College of the Arts’ annual camp for artists from around the world has had to take a back seat this year. But instead of cancelling Tropical Lab, the arts institution got creative.
It has launched Image and Sound In Spite Of…, an online exhibition that continues to celebrate the spirit of artistic collaboration across borders, which Tropical Lab champions. The exhibition features works created by the school’s lecturers, alumni and former participants of Tropical Lab.
The exhibition’s curator Milenko Prvački, a senior fellow at Lasalle, and recipient of the Cultural Medallion in 2012, says the exhibition gets its name from how “in spite of COVID-19, many artists continue to be active, thinking of ways to express themselves and their emotions, and explore new working methods.”
Three artists, whose works are in the online show, tell The A List how they have adapted to changes in art-making during this time by stepping out of their comfort zones.
Ang Qing Sheng, animation lecturer
Before the pandemic broke, Ang had been working on an animated short film, set at a busy traffic junction in Albert Street, which he used to cross every day on his way to work. With the move to work-from-home, however, Ang changed the storyline of his animated film, focusing instead on the irony of a traffic light that continues to direct traffic along a once busy street, now empty.
For Ang, the pandemic has presented him with creative opportunities to further his practice. He says: “With many forms of communications moving online, it appears that media art has found its place of importance, and in a post-pandemic world, it will shine even brighter. I have been thinking about new ways to use digital tools and techniques to engage students and audiences, and I am also discovering methods to bring back some of the sensations like touch and smell, which we lose when we communicate digitally.”
Dipali Gupta, Lasalle alumnus and fine artist
Due to the pandemic, Gupta’s original plans for art shows and residencies have been postponed until next year. But instead of setting aside her artistic practice this year, she embraced the online arts community, sharing her work virtually and participating in online art symposiums and artist talks.
Her work in this online show offers a peek into her creative process and how she adapted to creating art from the small studio space in her home during the Circuit Breaker. She says: “Working only with what I have, without any external help or elaborate equipment, fortifies the intent of my work, which is to reclaim space for female desires through a deconstruction of norms.”
Russell Adam Morton, Lasalle alumnus and filmmaker
Morton created a short film during the Circuit Breaker as an homage to the Netflix thriller series DARK. The multiple timelines and time travel in the series resonated deeply with his experience during that time. “It was like I was caught up in some weird time warp, unable to comprehend how the days went by so fast when I found myself months into the ‘lockdown’,” he says.
The Circuit Breaker prevented him from working with crew members on film productions, but the time alone led him to embrace creating work on his own. He says: “Now with the Circuit Breaker lifted, we are allowed back to work in very small teams, and I enjoy this slower and more sustainable pace of making images.”