Those who frequent local arts events are likely to bump into curator Tan Siuli, turning heads at exhibition openings with her elegant ensembles. We caught up with the fashionista to find out what she’s been wearing during the circuit breaker, and to get the lowdown on the brands that this chic curator loves.
Hello Siuli! How are you keeping, and what are you wearing these days as you’re working from home?
Hello! I am well, thank you. Very much enjoyed the quiet time of the circuit breaker, but work has been picking up of late. I have been working from home in loungewear, which as you know is just a fancy way of saying ‘pyjamas’. These are for the days that I don’t have online meetings. When I do, I’m in comfy and cooling separates since I don’t use air conditioning during the day and just leave my windows wide open for natural ventilation. I’m sure we’ve all heard about this being the season of the ‘zoom-worthy’ top.
So much of the art world has to do with being social for example, attending parties and openings, or meeting friends to visit exhibitions. Now that things have moved indoors, how has that affected your personal sense of style? Now that there is less of a need to “be seen” – do you think that fashion has less of a place in the art world (or indeed, in life in general)!
At first, I welcomed the freedom to work from home in total comfort, but after weeks on end of a rather unimaginative rotation of the same tank tops and shorts, I really missed getting dressed up to go out! I did notice that I was spending much less than usual on new outfits because of this whole situation, but I don’t think fashion will ever die, as long as people still crave beauty and style, and enjoy the whole process of getting dressed up.
Do you think your sense of personal style affects your taste in art? If so, give us an example if you can, about how one informs the other?
Well, I like clean and minimalist, but I also like colourful and expressive – in both art and fashion, so it’s difficult to say! If I’m attending an art event, I do try to dress to the theme. It’s more fun that way.
How do you think the art world is going to change, or has changed, as a result of this pandemic?
Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve listened to many online conversations on this same issue, and certainly I think the way we regard a lot of art world ‘givens’ such as blockbuster traveling shows, biennales, art fairs, art travel, art socials etc is going to have to change. It’s not a bad thing. As you may know, the art world often moves at breakneck speed, and I’ve actually welcomed this opportunity to slow down and recharge. One thing is for sure – everyone can’t wait to experience art in the flesh again, and hopefully, when we do venture out to do so, we are encountering art not with a jaded eye but with a renewed appetite and appreciation.
We love how you’re always in gorgeous outfits at art events – would you take us on a trip down memory lane and share with us, some of your favourite ones?
Sure! I do love my local labels, and here I present….
Exhibit A: My outfit from Stolen
Exhibit B: Dress from Our Second Nature
Exhibit C: Wrap dress from Klarra
Exhibit D: Batik by Ong Shunmugam
Exhibit E: Ong Shunmugam’s sari-cheongsam
Exhibit F: Sejauh Mata Memandang
Do you have a message for our readers who miss going to art museums?
In a way, I’m glad that this period of enforced ‘lockdown’ has made us realise how much we miss places and social rituals that we have come to take for granted. Museums and art spaces will open up (fully) soon enough, but in the meantime, many have put out various digital initiatives that enable art lovers to continue engaging with art. Take this opportunity to find out more about specific objects in the museum’s collection in depth, or to learn more about past exhibitions.
Singapore Art Museum for instance has a number of virtual curator’s tours of the current and previous Singapore Biennale, including some background information on selected artworks that you wouldn’t be privy to if you were just visiting the galleries. There are many ways to enjoy art, and although nothing beats seeing it in person, there are lots of alternatives out there in the meantime!
Follow Siuli’s adventures in art at her Instagram account, @the.itinerant.curator.
All images courtesy of Tan Siuli, feature image by Alexander S., via Unsplash