Understanding The Pandemic Through Art, Science And Mental Wellbeing Projects

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Understanding The Pandemic Through Art, Science And Mental Wellbeing Projects

STORY: Nicholas Yong
11 January 2022
Some of the works at ArtScience Museum's new exhibit, "Hope From Chaos: Pandemic Reflections".
Some of the works at ArtScience Museum's new exhibit, "Hope From Chaos: Pandemic Reflections". | Photos: (clockwise from top left) Luke Jerram, Cao Fei, Vitamin Creative Space and Sprüth Magers, Eun Vivian Lee and Art Outreach SG, Heman Chong and STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

If there’s anything positive we can take out of this COVID-19 sitch, it’s knowing that we’re not alone in this, and we’ve grown stronger and resilient through it all.

And that’s why we’re eager to check out ArtScience Museum's “Hope From Chaos: Pandemic Reflections” - the new exhibition, which kicks off on Wednesday (12 Jan 2022), will examine the science of epidemics and give us a look into how visual artists coped with the virus.

Pretty cool way to reflect on the past two years of madness, that’s for sure.

 Cao Fei, Isle of Instability, 2020. Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary.
Cao Fei, Isle of Instability, 2020. Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary. | Photo: Cao Fei, Vitamin Creative Space and Sprüth Magers

Like the “Isle of Instability” by Cao Fei - all that Dettol reminds us of the early days of Circuit Breaker just trying to get everything disinfected. The artist was inspired by her own CB experience with her family here in Singapore.

Luke Jerram, Coronavirus – COVID-19, 2020, glass sculpture and Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine, 2020, glass sculpture.
Luke Jerram, Coronavirus – COVID-19, 2020, glass sculpture and Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine, 2020, glass sculpture. | Photo: Luke Jerram

There’re also these really cool glass sculptures of “Coronavirus - COVID-19” and the “Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine” brought to life by Luke Jerram. Not only are these artworks made using the same materials and techniques used to produce medical and scientific glassware, it is also the first time they will be exhibited in Asia.

Heman Chong, Circuit Breaker Paintings, 2020, exhibition view at Heman Chong Peace Prosperity And Friendship With All Nations, 2021, at STPI Gallery.
Heman Chong, Circuit Breaker Paintings, 2020, exhibition view at Heman Chong Peace Prosperity And Friendship With All Nations, 2021, at STPI Gallery. | Photo: Heman Chong and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Nothing else encapsulates the past two years better than the X's formed by hazard tape in food courts and restaurants to remind you of safe distancing. Heman Chong produced one painting every day during the Circuit Breaker, adding the “X” motif across each one. All these works created during CB will be on display at the exhibition.

Nonzuzo Gxekwa, Untitled 02, Untitled 06, and Untitled 04, part of The Mask Project.
Nonzuzo Gxekwa, Untitled 02, Untitled 06, and Untitled 04, part of The Mask Project. | Photos: Nonzuzo Gxekwa, Pierre le Riche, and THK Gallery, South Africa

Probably can’t wear this outside without getting stares, but these eccentric masks by artists Nonzuzo Gxekwa and Pierre le Riche made during the strict lockdown in South Africa demonstrate the resilience and creativity of the arts in the country. Best part: they worked remotely on this project - the way many of us still do.

Eun Vivian Lee, The Diary of 2020, 2020, exhibition view at Hearth Art Space, Art Outreach SG October 2021.
Eun Vivian Lee, The Diary of 2020, 2020, exhibition view at Hearth Art Space, Art Outreach SG October 2021. | Photo: Eun Vivian Lee and Art Outreach SG

Eun Vivian’s Lee wavy 10m paper installation was made with paint from seashells, and it was created as her response to the fear and uncertainty she felt from the pandemic - we can certainly relate. A short video of how she explains art helped her mental health will be presented alongside her work.

Ivetta Sunyoung Kang, screen capture from Tenderhands Video Performance Instruction #39, 2020 – current.
Ivetta Sunyoung Kang, screen capture from Tenderhands Video Performance Instruction #39, 2020 – current. | Screencap: Ivetta Sunyoung Kang

While some of us have turned to new hobbies or video games, Ivetta Sunyoung Kang came up with a series of poetic hand-written instructions through Post-It notes. Her exhibit, “Tenderhands: Instructions for Anxious Hands” is a video performance where she goes through the processes she devised to focus and calm the mind - something we need even more now during WFH.

The N95 mask and the scientific team behind the new mask: (from left) Assoc Prof Liu Zheng, Dr Teddy Salim, Dr Rui Goncalves, and Prof Lam Yeng Ming.
The N95 mask and the scientific team behind the new mask: (from left) Assoc Prof Liu Zheng, Dr Teddy Salim, Dr Rui Goncalves, and Prof Lam Yeng Ming. | Photo: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Last but not least, scientists at Nanyang Technological University have created a nanotech antimicrobial N95-grade mask that’s reusable and eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and particulates. Power sia. Not for sale yet, but you can see it for the first time at the exhibition and learn how it was made.

Tickets to “Hope From Chaos: Pandemic Reflections” priced at $6 go on sale from 20 January. There’s also a family package ($18) for two adults and two kids.

The importance of mental wellness

The exhibition also kicks off a year-long “Season of Mental Wellbeing” at Artscience Musuem, a series of exhibitions, education activities and public programmes throughout this year to raise awareness and initiate conversations on mental health and wellbeing, especially the distress and societal anxiety caused by the pandemic.

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TAGS: Arts , COVID-19
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