The 31-year-old darling of the local art scene, Dawn Ng, tells Gwen Pew about her new show at Chan Hampe.
27 Dec 2013: Whether it’s through her lovable inflatable bunny, Walter, or her whimsical collection of boxes in Sixteen – which sold for $60,000 at Art Basel Hong Kong last year – you’ve most likely come across the work of Dawn Ng one way or another. To kick off 2014, the 31-year-old darling of the local art scene presents her newly-created Windowshop at Chan Hampe.
‘Growing up, I‘ve always had a fascination with cabinets of curiosities built during the most lavish years of Renaissance Europe, which were known as wonder rooms. They were the ultimate collector’s paradise,’ she says. ‘But Singapore is a city with such a brief history and virtually no memory as we move at such a pace of change; Windowshop is my own personal memory theatre in the context of Singapore’s own Golden Age.’
The exhibition consists of more than a thousand individual items that she sourced from over 30 junk shops, most of which will be held in custom-designed glass cabinets. One of the highlights is a piece called ‘No Point Losing These’ – ‘a waterfall of over 300 vintage marbles that are set at various heights, distance and widths apart, [and] stands as a time capsule of a particular era of childhood gone by’, as described by Ng.
‘You and Me’ is a white-marbletopped ping pong set: ‘I won’t say too much since the meaning of this piece lies within its engraved texts, but the proliferation of the ping pong table in local hipster culture is hilariously unrivalled. It deserves to be immortalised in stone. That’s just what I did.’
There will be a few items that visitors can interact with, including a merry-go-round, a salvaged coinslot and a pair of iron binoculars, but the junk shop curiosities will only form half of the show – the other half are iconic objects that Ng created as she felt they ‘were representative of this day and age’.
‘This exhibition is representative of my own documentative obsession as an artist and a mirror of my generation’s infatuation with the past. It sheds light on our human fascination with keeping things, and begs us to question that which is truly priceless,’ she explains. And as for how she managed to overcome the financial aspect of sourcing so many intricate items, her answer is simple: ‘Some serious bargaining skills! It’s all part of the fun.’