(image: These Decades that We Never Sleep by Terrence Koh)
A lot of the artists that have been coming up lately in these Insight Readings seem to be doing something very specific with materials. Perhaps telling, as if at this moment it is essential to consider the materials from which we come in contact, reside, and from which we build our lives. Each of these artists use materials as associative, such as the way Janine Antoni works cowhide to demarcate the vacated spaces that her body inhabited. Terrence Koh similarly uses very unconventional materials, but also elements that evoke something genuinely specific like an incantation of other objects or thoughts. In the work These Decades that We Never Sleep (Black Drums), for example: a drum kit, vegetable matter, black wax, or “ropes from a ship found after midnight.” As if these materials might form a recipe of sorts when combined in the correct ratio to produce… something? And in this there is an element at risk, which in many ways is the point.
Terrence Koh suggests:
If I fail, I fail spectacularly in front of the whole art world. That in a way relieves the pressure, because either way, the splatter will be beautiful.
Often Koh’s works are formal in colour, but revelling in a punk sort of ethos where things come together spectacularly or waste away in a shambolic or mortal sprall.
Terrence Koh observes:
As a child, I really enjoyed going to Asian funerals… I loved that we all had to dress in black for fourteen days and then on the actual cremation day everybody was in white … Maybe that is what struck in me the monochromatic colors.
Perhaps, what is marked is the materiality and stuffs from which we construct as well as how it evokes or conjures something other. As if alongside the physical choices we express through the way we live, matters from which we hew this life, experience or remember, we also arouse a sense of where we will be and give it form.
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