Dancing On the Spot (at Mettle Work)



Written by Zulkhairi Zulkiflee

In an interview with Bharati Jagdish, theatre director Ong Keng Sen discusses the varied and complex issues surrounding art making in Singapore and its reception. In closing, Ong subverts the expectations placed on the arts and proposes the possibility of art for art’s sake. Here, Ong questions the choice to embrace the artist’s own creative trajectories and whether the absence of direct societal relevance would discount support from a larger audience.

In extension, De Maria’s essay, Meaningless Work (1960), attempts to define the term as a significant (but ironically, meaningless in name) form of art making that is ‘honest’, and one that ‘can not be sold in art galleries or win prizes in museums…’ amongst many other seemingly peculiar definitions. Here, artworks are strategically made to void their obvious ‘purpose’, while democratizing an experience supposedly unique to any individual by heightening introspection, morality, time and etc.

It comes to no surprise that the boundaries De Maria loosely conjured aligns itself with conceptual art strategies that veer away from conventional criterions of art as a commodity – offering discourses on beauty and aesthetics.


1. Bharati Jagdish, “Ong Keng Sen ‘embarrassed’ talking about Singapore in front of international artists,” http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ong-keng-sen-embarrassed/2214400.html

2. Walter De Maria. “Meaningless Work,” (March, 1960).

Presented work:
The Window is Closer (2016)

The Window is Closer (2016), details
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