Digital art, photography and text

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Wong & Chow’s, by W&C Hoteliers
Singapore, Penang, Hong Kong & Shanghai
Purveyors of hospitality since 2016

In collaboration with: Ge Xiao Cong and Corliss Chan

Exhibited at And Everything In Between, Goldsmiths, London, 25 - 26 November 2017
Organised by: Ge Xiao Cong, Quek Jia Qi & Seet Yun Teng

And Everything In Between was initiated as an collaborative project to bring together people of various art and non-art disciplines to work towards a common goal.

Together with Ge Xiao Cong and Corliss Chan, we explored the observation of how modern businesses still utilise aesthetics from colonial era to brand themselves. We created a series of parodies of such aesthetics to highlight the absurdity.

Each artist individually executed each of their own artwork.


Artist's statement:

Xiao Cong, Corliss and I approached the subject of open brief collaboration with identifying the common academic interests between 3 of us. A common interests was in history and architecture. Working from London, Hong Kong and Singapore respectively, there was also an incidental historical link; that Hong Kong and Singapore were both colonial possessions of the United Kingdom, controlled from London.

Using this as a starting point, we saw a common intersection in the contemporary setting: the enduring appeal of Classical architecture in the contemporary era. An architecture which emerged in ancient Greece and Rome is still being produced today. Throughout history in its various incarnations, and adaptations, Classical-styled architecture had always been in the canon of architecture.

In more recent decades, the value of such a theoretical and historicist approach to Classicism had devolved to aesthetic reappropriation of Classicism, which differs from the appropriation by Post Modernism. One possible explanation may be the desire to emulate the beauty of Classicism without knowledge of the original theory.

The reappropriation for purely aesthetic reasons is commonly observed in situations where there is a need to portray grandeur, beauty or luxury. Classical styled columns and cornices can be found in many places, from new government offices, to night clubs and private homes.

As an extension of this though process, I looked at Chinoiserie and Orientalism and a less discussed counterpoint, the appropriation of Western styles by non-Western cultures. During a period of Orientalism where the West viewed the East in a derogatory lens, the locals in colonised lands were emulating the European colonial rulers to aspire, or to declare that they had reached a high social status usually reserved for Europeans.

Such a thought survives today in Singapore, where 'Western' was thought of as inherently 'better' or 'higher class'.

One common contemporary adaption was the application of Classical design elements in graphic and logo designs. Certain companies goes as far as to create a faux history linking back to the colonial era. Our project is a satirical commentary to our obsession with colonial styles.

Until the arrival of budget airlines, traveling was an expensive activity to do, and the average family might had only traveled occasionally.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, traveling as a leisure pursuit was a novelty with recent advances in steam ships, trains and motorcars. Traveling as leisure was an extreme luxury out of reach for the majority. With the Orientalist lens, travel to Asia was exoticised, and large luxurious hotels opened to cater to traveling Europeans.

The vintage hotel logo is reappropriated for fictitious small hotels operating in contemporary Singapore, George Town (Penang), Hong Kong and Shanghai, all have a shared linked history as cities controlled by the United Kingdom with strong Chinese identity. Motifs of Classical and Chinese origin were appropriated to create an exaggerated, whimsical and satirical approach to the narrative of stylistic appropriation, to show and amplify the ridiculousness of such a design.