Performance In Three Parts

When the covid pandemic made it impossible in 2020 to resume normative live and in person exhibition platforms; skeptics assumed the art world would suffocate. Blockbuster shows suddenly shutdown, art fairs postponed, international travel stopped; no biennale, triennial, and auctions. Performance art; the most challenging, purest practice and least monetized was hardly on the top of any museum directors’ or gallerists agenda for immediate revamped business plan pivots.

The R3 online project is a brilliant visual and sensory experience that takes viewers into the minds of the artists’ practices. Performative art is expression from an artist in fluid and flowing exploration; unleashed to discover their widest scope of possibilities.

In Performance art there is a bond and acknowledgement; a trust between participants in the live and real time room. The artist guides the journey by enabling everyone in the space to become one with the visions and expressions they reveal. I was very curious to see how the short video on the virtual internet web without live audiences would affect the performances by Justin Lee, Kokuang Matthu and Antoni Karwowski. The first noticeable in the videos are the deliberate choices of where the body is placed into the frame by the three artists. We see three different approaches – full frame upper body, head shot and landscape distance. The virtual online platform lends and invites the viewer to see and immerse in the performance piece on their own time, context, place and convenience; something which is rarely done in a pre-ticketed or scheduled performance. 

Artist: Justin Lee       Title: RedDOT

There is a thread of reverence and homage to Singapore histories and cultural heritage particular to Southeast Asia’s reverse diaspora to Justin Lee’s career. The artist has a spiritual kinship and lineage to the TAV Singapore movement of performance artists particularly to late great Lee Wen. It is a constant merging and re-morphing of the traditional, Asian and Western influences transforming works in diverse directions for Justin Lee.

Justin Lee’s artwork for PERFORMANCE AT A DISTANCE is a 6:47 minutes performance which continues his narrative visual arc art practices that invites viewers to turn their gazes at cultural, ethnic, community and popular culture as self or identity. The video begins on a frame and close up of his unadorned, bare face with no glasses, facial coverings nor masking. The face is a neutral expression; without malice, fear, anxiety or any outward extreme joyousness. Lee places red dots the size of a quarters from the lips, eyes and to lower part of his chin. He continues until his face is covered in red dots.  In many of Justin Lee’s previous artworks symbolic images harken back to histories of life in Singapore from the childhood food pantry of the family kitchen to traditional figures in annual rites of the Chinese communities in Southeast Asia such as the Hungry Ghost and the God of Fortune during Lunar New Year. He also refers back to the life of a Singaporean artist: the process, the environment, the working professional artist, culture and heritage in confidence and without didactic political noise, yet with clever wit. 

What do those red dots signify? The red dot in the performance may pertain to the “sold” stickers that is often placed on artwork sold at galleries and art fairs; a denotation of commercial 

market success. The red dots could also be a wink and nod to Singapore, Justin Lee’s hometown, in often used branding label nicknamed “the little red dot”; a branding promotion of the city-states’ soft power design achievements to international travelers and corporations. The red dots  sadly also may correlate to the marks of the global Covid pandemic and the loss of life; red dots as blood cells. Like the best of artworks, there are many gateways for the viewer. Overall the feeling is of not grief nor despair; only hope and optimism because the hand which pastes red dots is controlled by human hands and fingers. Men/Women choose the terms and guide their own futures is the message in RedDOT by Justin Lee and it all begins with a good look at one’s self.

Artist: Kokaung Matthu       Title: A New Transformation

In the late 1960’s when movie director Stanley Kubrick envisioned audiences to see larger than a house sized platforms for films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, he would probably not have imagined that future generations will be able to see it on handheld portable mobile phones the size of a child’s palm at 4 inches. Wondrous artwork like great movies do not lose immersive qualities nor the power of narratives by presentation sizes. Myanmar’s Kokaung Matthu’s performance is deeply hypnotic. He stands with stark naked upper torso frame front and center facing the camera directly as a projection of rows and upon rows in combinations of grouped six digit numbers and ten’s similar to bank credit cards, passports or government serial identification numbers. Kokaung Matthu raises his arms with palms up and hand signals with raised fingers various gestures denoting the counting of numbers one through ten. The background is white and the body is tattoed with a light projection of numberals. He then straps onto his head a black corded landline phone, proceeds to answer a phone reminiscent of a any business office desks. Matthu attaches  more objects to his head; two white smartphones onto numerical call button area of the bulky square landline phone. He secures it with more taping to fit masklike or helmet. The artist transforms as one with telephones, he proudly lifts his head upright and looks straight into the camera. 

Could it be that Kokuang Matthu’s body has become an alternative machine; a newer and better version? A Man-Machine; a cyborg hybrid? Has the Myanmar artist given into the to the deluge of technology and information and unable to use his human vocal cords?  Documentation by means of numbers is part of modern life today. Pure data is currently the modus operandi of hospitals around the world. Information files have replaced the microfiche, the photocopy and hand written notes vital health data folders by doctors. Digital data is the modern finger prints and along with unburnable human teeth the only thing that recognizes one as unique individuality. Kokuang Matthu’s performance ends with taking off the new phone hybrid mask appendage from his head with the ease and calm of a casual motorbike ride. He looks directly into the camera with no post body trauma stress and proceeds to exit the video frame. Kokuang retains total control over machine, the freedom and choice to use technology and discard it when it is no longer the materiality that he needed. A message, or warning to retain your humanity in the privileged act of free will and choice when living in a technological forward world from an artist.

Artist: Antony Karwowski       Title: read a white book

The last of the performance in the triptych is a 12:10 minute clip by Antony Karwowski; a very accomplished multi-disciplinary artist from Poland whose career has spanned more than four decades. There is a wisdom to a long life, born in 1948, Mr. Karwowski has history and foresight with experiences gleaned. It is not surprising that he uses the body that serves him well in a powerful performance which responds to the questions in the eternal discourse of birth, life, faith, manifest destiny and the choices people shape. There is an aura of calm and the quiet confidence of a scholar, orchestra conductor or Nobel prize winner to Mr. Karwowski that gives gravitas in every movement he makes in performance. Unlike his canvas paintings which feature layers of bright colors in intense hues of yellow, blue, aqua and red, lots of red; this performance online is mainly in shades of black and white. He wears dark jeans, a lightly faded grey black pin-striped blazer, and a grey t-shirt. Karwowski is barefooted and is on his hands and knees at times during the presentation; movement is generated by the upper torso with arms used for balance and to push or pull sideways, backwards and forwards. It’s a body physical performance. He moves toward a circle which is centered with a flat rock about the size of an average 15 inch laptop computer. The artist is grounded to the floor; earthbound, the scene is reminiscent of land work from sites such Stonehenge in England or Zen at the raked rock garden in Ryoanji Temple Kyoto, Japan; both classic shapes which resonate deeply in human memory. The circles and lines represent the fluidity of time and seasons. The artist scatters pages from his white book to the floor, but all is not hidden or lost. The essence of information is left behind as traces of artifact on the floor which then turns into histories for communities.

The performance by Mr. Karwowski is a nuanced symbolic sense of self and control in these disconnected times. He implies reading a book is knowledge, the power of information and the morality of human existence. Written words created by humans is cyclical with the bare elements of physicality in this performance suggesting fire, ash, flesh, frailty, water, rain and saliva. Life exists and fades only to form a new circle as it does every season and decade.




R3のオンラインプロジェクトは、アーティストの実践の心の中に視聴者を連れて行く、素晴らしい視覚的、感覚的な体験です。パフォーミング・アートとは、流動的で流動的な探求の中でのアーティストの表現であり、可能性の最も広い範囲を発見するために解き放たれています。 可能性


アーティスト:ジャスティン・リー  作品名:RedDOT

ジャスティン・リーの「PERFORMANCE AT A DISTANCE」のための作品は、6分47秒のパフォーマンスで、彼の物語性のあるビジュアル・アーク・アートの実践を継続しています。ビデオは、眼鏡も顔のカバーもマスキングもしていない、飾り気のない素顔のフレームとクローズアップから始まります。その顔は、悪意も恐怖も不安も、外に出てくる極端な喜びもなく、中立的な表情をしています。リーは唇、目、顎の下の部分から4分の1の大きさの赤い点を入れていきます。彼は顔が赤い点で覆われるまで続けます。 ジャスティン・リーのこれまでの作品の多くには、子供の頃の家庭の台所の食料庫から、旧正月の餓鬼や福の神など、東南アジアの中国人コミュニティの年中行事に登場する伝統的な人物まで、シンガポールでの生活の歴史を象徴するイメージが登場します。彼はまた、シンガポール人アーティストの人生についても言及しています:プロセス、環境、プロのアーティストとして働くこと、文化や遺産について、教訓的な政治的な雑音はなく、巧みなウィットに富んだ自信を持って話しています。

市場での成功。赤い点はまた、「小さな赤い点」という愛称でよく使われるブランディングラベルの中で、ジャスティン・リーの故郷であるシンガポールへのウインクとうなずきでもあります。悲しいことに赤い点はまた、世界的なコビドの大流行と生命の損失の印と関連しているかもしれません; 血球としての赤い点。芸術作品のベストのように、そこに視聴者のための多くのゲートウェイがある。赤い点を貼る手は人間の手と指によってコントロールされているので、全体的には悲しみや絶望ではなく、希望と楽観だけが感じられます。男性/女性が自分の未来を導くために、条件を選び、自分の未来を導くというのが、ジャスティン・リーのRedDOTのメッセージであり、すべては自分自身をよく見ることから始まるのです。

アーティスト:コカング・ミャッテュー  作品名:A New Transformation
1960年代後半、映画監督のスタンリー・キューブリックが「2001年宇宙の旅」のような映画のために、観客が一軒家以上の大きさのプラットフォームで見ることを想定していたとき、彼はおそらく、将来の世代が子供の手のひらサイズの4インチの携帯電話で見ることができるようになるとは想像していなかっただろう。偉大な映画のような素晴らしいアートワークは、プレゼンテーションのサイズによって没入感の質や物語の力を失うことはない。ミャンマーのKokaung Matthuのパフォーマンスは深く催眠術にかかっている。彼は、銀行のクレジットカードやパスポート、政府のシリアルID番号のように、グループ化された6桁の数字と10の数字の組み合わせの行と行の上に投影としてカメラに向かって、正面と中央に裸の上半身のフレームで立っています。Kokaung Matthuは手のひらを上げて彼の腕を上げ、指を上げた様々なジェスチャーで手の信号は、10までの数字の1つをカウントすることを示す。背景は白であり、体はnumberalsの光投影で入れ墨されています。彼はその後、黒いコード付きの固定電話を頭に装着し、ビジネスオフィスのデスクを連想させる電話に応答します。Matthuは彼の頭に多くのオブジェクトを添付し、かさばる正方形の固定電話の数値呼び出しボタン領域に2つの白いスマートフォン。彼は、マスクのようなものやヘルメットにフィットするように、さらにテーピングでそれを固定しています。アーティストは電話機を持つ者として変身し、誇らしげに頭を真っ直ぐに上げてカメラを見つめている。

それはKokuang Matthuの体が代替の機械になったということだろうか。マンマシン、サイボーグのハイブリッド?ミャンマーのアーティストはテクノロジーと情報の氾濫に屈し、人間の声帯を使うことができなくなってしまったのだろうか。 数によるドキュメンテーションは現代生活の今日の部分である。純粋なデータは現在、世界中の病院の方法の操作方法である。情報ファイルは、マイクロフィッシュ、コピーと医師による手書きのノートの重要な健康データフォルダを置き換えています。デジタルデータは現代の指紋であり、焼けない人間の歯と一緒に、ユニークな個性として1つを認識する唯一のものです。Kokuang Matthuのパフォーマンスは、カジュアルなバイクの乗り心地と静けさで彼の頭から新しい携帯電話のハイブリッドマスクの付属品を脱いで終了します。彼は外傷後のストレスもなく、カメラを直視して映像のフレームから抜け出していきます。コクアンは機械を完全に制御し、テクノロジーを使用する自由と選択を保持し、それが彼が必要としていた物質性ではなくなったときにそれを破棄する。テクノロジーの進歩した世界で生きていく上で、自由意志と選択という特権的な行為の中に、人間性を保つためのメッセージ、あるいは警告をアーティストが発信します。

アーティスト:アントニー・カルウォウスキー  作品名:reading a white book


Performance at Distance

Justin Lee – RedDOT
Kokaung Matthu – A New Transformation
Antony Karwowski – read a white book

Biography 略歴

Jane Shishido (Singapore)

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