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artist support programme (ASP) alumni: Jantzen Sing TSE

photo by South Ho

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Sing Jantzen Tse (b. 1980s, Hong Kong) received his Master of Fine Art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Jantzen’s artworks focus on the topics of language and conversation, sound and visuals of daily objects and city landscapes. His artworks express the wrestling, inseparable, and entangled relationships between people, individuals and cities, the soul and time. Interested in multimedia practices, he applies different materials and audio-visual moving images to his creations. In 2012, his experimental sound performance language, toured various theatrical performance programmes in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Taipei. Between 2011 to 2015, he was invited as a resident artist touring Africa, India, and the United Kingdom. In 2017, he and his friends founded the art group “Dabinlo Lab”, which focuses on video projects, sound and music performance, and multimedia art production such as those in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). As a musician he is active in band shows and has composed and improvised music for multimedia theatre performances. He has also led sound and video workshops.

Sing Jantzen Tse was supported by soundpocket’s Artist Support Programme 2011–12.

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Interview excerpt:

26.5.2021 (Wed)|4pm
Fu Lee Loy Shopping Centre, Hong Kong

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ ‘10 Years of ASP’: Sparks between curator and artist

soundpocket: In ‘10 Years of ASP’, you were working with Aaron (Aaron Lam Kwok-yam, soundpocket’s supported artist of the year 2019–20) for the mini exhibition ‘Unsettlement’. Were there any sparks between you two during the collaboration?

Sing: After I’d got in touch with Aaron and talked with him, I learned that he had graduated from university, and his age was close to my former post-graduate classmates at CUHK, so it reminded me of the way I discussed and communicated with those classmates, as if I was revisiting the state of being a young artist, but with a slightly different tone in my delivery. It might be due to my teaching at HKICC [Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity], but I am more patient now. This is another attempt for me to be a curator, and as a curator, I could not neglect him but had to communicate with him constantly.

Speaking of the sparks of collaboration, Aaron is persistent with certain subjects, but when the discussion reaches my basic requirements, his persistence usually can’t get past them. I will keep nagging him in the particular way that I do, and wrap up the discussion with a brief yet firm decision. I think this can be the source of sparks between us? Perhaps because he is still a young artist, sometimes when I share my opinions with him, he will struggle a lot on whether to accept them or not. But when I put myself in his shoes, I can understand his situation – it’s like there’s a professor who keeps telling him what he should like, which is pointless. So, when I share my opinions, I try to consider what he’s trying to achieve from his perspective.

photo by Wong Ka-wing

soundpocket: Aside from sharing opinions, discussing, and establishing the work as a curator, you mentioned the idea of adding a work to his exhibition. Could you share these thoughts with us?

Sing: Over the last 10 years, I have seen a lot of stuff, so I have a lot of associations regarding all his ideas. However, Aaron is also someone who easily comes up with ideas pointing in a variety of directions. When we both have all these directions to go in, I will suggest he keep a tight grip on one particular track. At first, we talked about the experimental materials inside the space, possibly relating them to research into physics, as well as something social and political. After that, he told me, ‘There’s too much to digest’, but then he’d also like to give it a try. From my own experience, many things are inter-connected, layer by layer; at the end, it won’t be too loose. So, when I knew he wanted to do an artwork with a power plug, I asked him if I could stick a label or something on it. Other than being a curator, I want to see if I am capable of intervening from a particular perspective. But later I realised he didn’t want to do it at all, and I respect that.

Lastly, I told him there might be an intervention, somewhat like a soundscape that comes from hidden speakers, playing bits of sound in the space. I only told him after we’d decided the exhibition name “Unsettlement” and completed the exhibition statement. If he hoped to draw the audience into some kind of mood, sound would be something I’d like to intervene with for this exhibition. [Note from editor: after some discussion, the two decided not to include a soundscape in ‘Unsettlement’.]

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ The role and style of a curator

soundpocket: Do you think you have a signature curating style?

Sing: I’ve never thought about my own curating style … I’d rather talk about my role in ‘Unsettlement’. I talked with Aaron, sorted out our thoughts from those discussions, and sometimes I might have needed to insist on my bottom line to make a final decision. When I wrote the curator’s statement, it was as if I was writing my impressions about a person. I believe this is the best way to write it, and I stuck to this one way – to help the public understand who Aaron is. As for the curation, I kept reminding myself to think about how to help the artist, and the exhibition, to draw a closer relationship to the audience and the elements that go beyond them.