This Artist Is Bringing The Light Of Love All Around Singapore - Literally!
STORY: Ng Kai
20 January 2022
Don't be surprised if you see a lit AF mobile sculpture of "LOVE" in Singapore some time this weekend. No lah, it's not some crazy rich Asian's idea of a proposal, but rather, an - ahem - lovely and inspiring performance-installation by local artist, Lee Wei Lieh. And this isn't his first rodeo, having made "rainbows" appear in housing estates.
Over six nights starting this Sunday evening (23 Jan 2022), the 43-year-old one-man show who heads Very Small Exhibition, will be travelling on foot - while pushing the "LOVE" sculpture - across Singapore. The six-night journey is the beginning of a year-long project titled "Bring LOVE Everywhere".
An exhibition tour and monthly podcast will also be part of the project - the first exhibition location is at the National Design Centre, and the sculpture will be there for four weeks, starting 11 Feb 2022.
We talk to the artist about his passion project, and spreading the message of love on foot:
So, this was your "dream project" since the first iteration of the "LOVE" sculpture at iLight Singapore 2016. How have things changed five years on?
The light installation for iLight Marina 2016, “Very Wishing Exhibition 2.0”, was a series of performances/activities that encouraged the general public to play and create words of inspiration with LED light balls. To kick-start each activity, I would create different words like “TRUE”, “JOY”, “Create”, “PLAY” and “LOVE” with modular units made out of recycled bottles.
I kept the structure as “LOVE” after the festival was over, and have since been wanting to bring it to different unique and interesting places in Singapore to take some nice pictures, but never got to it for a variety of reasons, including technical issues and busy work schedules.
The “LOVE” sculpture actually made appearances in a few community festive celebrations during these 5 years. (See above.)
In 2021, when I decided to go full-time into my art, I finally had time to develop the piece into its current form, which is to push “LOVE” on foot everywhere and wrap this around a bigger initiative to reach more people.
Really kudos to you bro, especially since the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. Other than hoping people will realise they are loved, and for them to love others more, what other messages do you hope to convey through the performance-installation?
Here’s a little secret: Each time after I have spent hours doing my test walk for the "Bring LOVE Everywhere" project, I tear up. 🥲It truly is an emotional moment for me because from young, all I've wanted is to be a good person, contribute to society. But when I take the time to think about myself as a person, I feel that I’m nowhere close to the kind of person whom I want to be.
A big part of my life was spent living overseas. I seldom called home to check in with my parents. I seldom (almost never) contact my friends to initiate having coffee to catch up. I’m always busy with a lot of things, and when I’m free, I just want to be alone. The truth is, all the people that I have built some form of relationship with are always on my mind. I'm not a people person; it is not my nature to openly show concern or simply just start a conversation.
Thus for myself, I want this 6-night "Bring LOVE Everywhere" journey to represent my sincerest apology for not being a good enough son, brother and friend, for whatever reason.
Rain or shine, you still want to do it ah? Aiyo, and your parents worry for your wellbeing during the arduous six-day journey around SG. Any other obstacles you foresee yourself encountering?
I know that my parents think that I am crazy to want to do something like this, and spend so much time, money and effort to do something that has no income in return. However, I know they trust that I know what I am doing and will not endanger myself. After all, I’ve been living on my own overseas for many years. That said, parents will be parents; no matter what, they will still worry.
Although I am well prepared for my journey, rain is still my greatest fear. I can only hope that it will not be the reason for not completing the 6-night journey. Other concerns are wild animals and stray dogs as there will be areas that I will have to walk through that are less well lit.
Since the sculpture is made out of recycled plastic water bottles, is sustainability another message? And curious ah, did you have to drink all the contents first lol?
Yes indeed! Sustainability is a big and complex subject that is so important especially today. To be honest, I have created enough installation projects that are exciting and meaningful, but generate a lot of trash and waste in the past. I have made it a point to be more mindful with my current and future work.
I spend more time making things reusable and try my best to repurpose used or found objects instead of buying new ones. My friends say that I am a hoarder, because my little studio is filled with lots of leftover materials and past projects that I have a hard time deciding if I should throw away.
The bottles that I used to create “LOVE” are from Allswell. The square base bottles make it easier to build the structure. Allswell gladly supported my projects with cartons of expired and near expiring drinks when I approached them in 2016. It did require me spending a lot of time cleaning and drying these bottles.
Space in Singapore is just too expensive, I tried to give away “LOVE” or even thought of throwing it into the recycling bin, but how can I do that right?! Plastic bottles last forever, so “LOVE” should last forever too!
You can support Wei Lieh's Kickstarter campaign here. Let's keep the love going!