EVERYTHING BUT GOLD
5 Dec 2017 - 17 Jan 2018
Curated by Verity Hayward
In Everything But Gold, the series of works by Adeline Kueh deals a personal item, the paper beads that span from June 1963 to present-day Singapore context. 1963 was the year Adeline’s parents began their courtship: they started making the paper beads from calendars available to them readily. By the time they got married in 1966, they had enough beads for their matrimonial home. As an emblem of the parents’ love for each other, Adeline saved 3 strands from the eventual bead curtain used in their various homes before she left Sarawak in 1990 for her undergraduate studies. The beads travelled with her throughout until she settled in a home she set up with her Singaporean husband in 1999. While the beads did come apart on and off before being glued back together, an accident by her son caused a dozen beads to unravel in January 2016. Her decision to open up the beads revealed a surprise – she saw for the first time that the beads were time capsules. They bore the traces of time passing, as well as having been made of calendars in 1963 which significantly, was the year Sarawak, North Borneo, Singapore & Malaya formed Malaysia (on September 16, 1963).
These beads are literally worth their weight in gold for the artist who has moved more than 26 times before she turned 30. These precious paper beads have been weighed & averaged out to 7 grams each. An encounter with some inherited gold pieces around that time (for the artist’s son) & the ways in which the beads are stand-ins for personal histories.
The video piece is a form of message for her son, of our present moment/time and the future. Gold is melted & transformed into newer beads of 7 grams each. The whole process began from a personal family story but the result foregrounds universal values about love, what we carry as item of remembering, gold as the purest form of metal & currency of exchange, as well as nation building & identity.
Adeline Kueh makes installations, photography and sound works that reconsider the relationship we have with things and rituals around us. Her works are imbued with a sense of desire and longing, and act as modern-day totems that explore personal histories and overlooked moments.
Adeline has produced installations and interventionist projects within the collaborative MatriXial Technologies in old boys network 01 ((Hamburg, 2001), Next 5 Minutes 4: International Festival of Tactical Media (Amsterdam, 2003), and Version >03 Digital Art Convergence (Chicago, 2003). She has also exhibited in United Kingdom, USA, The Netherlands, Turkey and Australia. Rooted in critical studies, her research interests include notions of monstrosity within Southeast Asian contexts, architecture, fashion and the future of cinema. Adeline has chaired and presented at a number of cultural studies conferences in UK, Australia, Finland, Hungary, Singapore and Malaysia. Currently a Senior Lecturer with the MA Fine Arts programme at LASALLE College of the Arts, she is also a consultant for a number of research, lifestyle, film, art and design projects including Hermes Singapore in 2016.
Image: Everything But Gold, still from HD video, 2017 | 5:00min. Courtesy the artist.