Jef Geys: Quadra Medicinale Singapore
December 1, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - March 3, 2019 @ 7:00 pm UTC+8
NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore presents Quadra Medicinale Singapore, the late Belgian artist Jef Geys’s first institutional exhibition in Asia. Featuring the artist’s project Quadra Medicinale, first shown at the Belgium Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, this iteration at NTU CCA Singapore is expanded to include a Singapore chapter with contributions from local collaborators.
Geys’s conceptual practice adopts interdisciplinary and collaborative processes of research and knowledge-formation, which is driven by his belief that art should be intertwined with the everyday. For Quadra Medicinale, Geys invited residents of Brussels, Moscow, New York, and Villeurbanne to demarcate a geometrical quadrant with their home or workplace at the centre and document 12 unassuming street plants, or “weeds.” From this collection, the collaborators uncovered the productive, and often times medicinal, properties of these plants.
Quadra Medicinale is structured as a universal manual capable of being replicated everywhere. This alternative model set up by Geys for collective knowledge production, sharing, and documentation has, underlying its process, a socially-active role: Geys asked questions such as, “What can a homeless person who has toothache, for example, chew-on to ease the pain, and to eventually cure the problem?”
On view will be four chapters of the project, including Singapore. Each chapter includes framed plant specimens with their characteristics labelled, photographs of the site where the specimens were originally found, as well as maps of the selected geographical quadrant. Through inciting a collaborative process, Geys created a unique model for knowledge production and access.
Questioning mainstream and organised systems of urban planning and information dissemination, Geys casted doubt on the fundaments of language and visual representation, interrogating art’s relation to meaning-making. Geys produced a text explaining the Quadra Medicinale project that has been translated into 10 languages, with annotations by the artist himself on the translations. Their display as large-format scrolls, further probes systems of interpretation, communication, and accessibility. A selection of these text scrolls and a newly-produced Malay translation will be shown.
Quadra Medicinale Singapore introduces an artistic practice that questions the hierarchies and adaptability of nature and society, provoking reflections on both their communicable and imperceptible structures.
The exhibition is made possible by generous loans from the Jef Geys Estate.
Quadra Medicinale Singapore is curated by Dirk Snauwaert, Artistic Director at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels, in collaboration with Ute Meta Bauer and Khim Ong, NTU CCA Singapore. Snauwaert was the Curator of Jef Geys: Quadra Medicinale in Venice 2009, commissioned by the Flemish Community. Snauwaert was also an NTU CCA Singapore Curator-in-Residence in 2015.