I'M A STEAMROLLER BABY
21 February - 24 March 2018
Curated by Lucie McIntosh + Ian Woo
I’m a Steamroller Baby was initially commissioned as a 11 channel installation displayed along a passage tunnel of 70metres at The Esplanade, Singapore. The title refers to a military cadence that the artist vividly remembers during his time during compulsory conscription in Singapore, specifically, a time when he was assigned to an “obese company” - an extended training bootcamp designed for obese recruits. His feelings for the song are rather conflicted – on one hand, it was used to tease at the spectacle of 200 slow marching obese recruits. On the other, they displayed finding pride and identity while performing so.
The running steps attempt to keep up with the tempo of the music, synchronizing his running pace to that of the music, alluding to the constant negotiation one swings between regimentation, control and independence. The counting clock reaches 9:10 mins, referring to the time a Singaporean man at age 29 has to clock for a “Gold” award in the military fitness test. Wearing the number 910 as sort of runner’s tag, he strides along brimming with a Sisyphean contemplation and hope.
Much of the actual running footages have been altered, especially during the music segments to match up to the tempo. This intervention frees the artist from the limits of the physical, allowing him to be unchained from his conditions, even if only temporarily.
Kray Chen (b. 1987, Singapore) is a visual artist based in Singapore. He finished his Masters of Arts in Fine Arts in 2014 and has since practiced actively locally and internationally. His participation includes solo exhibitions 1st Prize in 2013 (SG) and It's A Set Situation in 2016 (SG), group shows such as Art Stage Singapore 2014, Prudential Eye Awards Exhibition (SG), The Pleasure of Improbable Placements (Spain), Paradis Sans Promesse (France) and so on. He has also resided in Hangar (Spain), FRAC Des Pay De La Loire (France) and NTU-CCA Singapore. Kray's practice largely deals with lived experience and corporeality. Bringing to attention movements, gestures and behaviors of him and around him, Kray taps on their peculiar characteristic to discuss the value of progress in Singapore, reflecting on the psyche of a place caught between traditions and modernization.
Images| Kray Chen, I’m a Steamroller Baby, 2017, HD video, 5:00min | Courtesy the artist.