The Artists Village

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The Artists Village (TAV[citation needed]) is a contemporary art group in Singapore. Founded by contemporary artist Tang Da Wu,[1] it enabled like-minded contemporary artists to critically re-look and examine existing assumptions, values and concepts of art-making in Singapore. The Village as Singapore's first artist colony, enabled artists explore radical new ways and ideologies in making art that is in synch with the societal changes and state of affairs in the late 1980s.

The Village emerged in 1988[1] by Tang, a performance and installation artist who had returned to Singapore with his English wife Hazel McIntosh and his then five-year-old son Ben Zai after spending more than 10 years there furthering his art education in Britain. The returning family found home at 61-B Lorong Gambas in Sembawang and provided rent-free by Tang's relative. Since then Tang invited like-minded artist friends to stay and use the 1.6-hecture kampung space, amongst the durian trees and farm animals. Artists like Wong Shi Yaw had converted a chicken coop into his very first studio space. From 1989 on, the locality came alive with avant-garde performances and art exhibitions by artists living in the forested enclave; there were 7 artshows alone in that particular year, with their landmark performance and installation artshow titled The Happenings held at the Nanyang Technological Institute. At the height of the Village history, the enclave housed 35 artists living and working in the area, with 50 others participating in other art activities by the Village.[2] In 1990 They had The Time Show 24-hour art event which brought together artists working in all forms of multimedia, in one artshow. Sadly in that year, the land where the Village had been on, was repossessed by the Singapore Government for urban development. They briefly relocated themselves to some rental houses in the Naval Base area, and nomadically in places like the now-defunct Hong Bee Warehouse in Robertson Quay, Middle Road and other parts of Singapore.[2]

Tang's performance at the second Open Studio Show in Lorong Gembas.

The Village was hit with another setback in 1994, as a result of a public performance by artist Josef Ng during The Artists' General Assembly organized by the Village and another arts group 5th Passage Artists, at the Parkway Parade Shopping Centre. The act of snipping pubic hair in public by Josef then, provoked the National Arts Council to freeze all funding on performance art in Singapore; a ruling that was lifted only in 2003 after nearly 10 years. During the period, the Village had only one major project - the Tour De Art Lah! held in conjunction with the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1996. Many Village artists had to sought for projects overseas. In the late 1990s, new memberships by Jeremy Hiah and Woon Tien Wei steered the Village towards new controversies in art by engaging in artist collaborations and interdisciplinary exhibitions with artists from other parts of Southeast Asia. In 1999, the show Post-Ulu at The Substation featured a 12-hour overnight poetry recitals, live DJ sets and performances, while the B.E.A.U.T.Y show in 2002 engaged art collectors by paying the art collectors to acquire the works of art on display at Utterly Art Gallery.[2] In all, the new generation of TAV led by Hiah and Woon held some 13 art events over the 4-year period since joining the Village. They have also tackled performances at new locations; places like Heritage Conservation Centre, and even to Pulau Ubin and Bali to explore new heights in art-making, as a collective group. This is a contrast from the individualistic expressionist approach by the first-generation members.[3]

The Village continued to grow and rejunvenated with new provocative projects and ideas with new members joining the group. At the same time, the older members have branched into new directions with newly created spaces such as Plastique Kinetic Worms, Your MOTHER Gallery and p-10, for themselves.[2]


  1. ^ a b Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia (17 August 2010). "Singapore's Once Unruly Young Artist, Still Poking at Social Norms". New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Adeline, Chia (2008-08-07). "First artist colony; The Artists Village, an experimental art group that was born in a kampung and spawned big names in Singapore art, has earned a museum retrospective". Singapore: Straits Times Life!. pp. 1–3.
  3. ^ Martin, Mayo (2008-08-19). "Village people: their legacy lives on". Singapore: Today. pp. 28–29.

Further reading[edit]

  1. "The Artists Village: 20 Years On : 21 August – 5 October 2008" (PDF) (Press release). Singapore Art Museum. 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  1. Nadarajan, Gunalan; Storer, Russell; Eugene, Tan (2007). Contemporary art in Singapore. Singapore: Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore. ISBN 978-981-05-6461-2.

External links[edit]