Art is often able to transcend mediums, and connect with people on various levels. For Wei Ting, the #NovelWaysOfDressing open call not only helped her to reconnect with her love for fashion during a time when she had placed it on the back burner, but also awoke in her a nuanced understanding of the surroundings around her, thanks to Diana Rahim’s Interventions.
In the video below, she shares more about how Diana Rahim’s artwork helped her to see her neighbourhood in a new light, and how she could better appreciate the purpose of art in society through the ‘Time Passes’ exhibition. Her brilliant dress, constructed using only caution tape and thread, alludes to the artwork’s message of how hostile architectural elements can be reshaped and made more welcoming through softening touches.
Interventions is an artwork exhibited in the Time Passes exhibition, organised by the Singapore Art Museum. From now till 21st February, you can explore the virtual gallery online, or head down to National Gallery Singapore to view the exhibition in person. To find out more about the ongoing exhibition, visit bit.ly/sam-timepasses.
How did this artwork make you feel when you first saw it?
When I first saw this artwork, there was this sense of familiarity. It shows the benches and spaces that I see around my neighbourhood day in and day out, but I’ve never really noticed them. The styling of these spaces really added an element of surprise and playfulness that was really refreshing.
To you, what is art?
When something evokes emotion or memories from a person, that, to me, is art. In that sense, art is everywhere but something one can’t always see. This is why you need an artist to bring the art out of our surroundings and showcase it.
You made your outfit by yourself—what sparked the inspiration behind the choice of material?
When I first stitched my outfit, I was thinking of all my favourite reality shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway. I always found their team challenges so fun and inspiring! Taking inspiration from that, I wanted to challenge myself to use unconventional materials to make this dress. When I saw the caution tape at my local hardware store, I thought it was perfect for the dress since the colour was so striking, and it really fitted Diana Rahim’s theme of hostile architecture.
How did Diana Rahim’s work shape or change your understanding of your surroundings?
Before seeing Diana Rahim’s artwork, I had never really noticed how the design elements in public spaces were used to deter people from sleeping on the benches. It was then that I realised that those design elements were added to make the benches uncomfortable. That, to me, was so counterintuitive.
How has this exhibition enriched or changed your perspective on art?
Seeing this exhibition allowed me to think deeper and reflect about the artwork, and gave me a chance to be more aware of the spaces around me. This was no longer a touch-and-go experience—it has become a very hands-on experience.
What would you say is the importance of art in society?
A society without art is a society without soul—art can inspire you, and it allows people to reflect, appreciate, and celebrate life.
Art isn’t always the easiest to understand or interact with. Personally, what has helped you become more appreciative of art?
I think it’s important to bring art closer to the people. Having artworks displayed in public spaces like MRT stations, parks, or even hawker centers is interesting, because it brings art to where the people are, instead of people having to go to see art. That has helped me with my understanding of art.
The exhibition, Time Passes, is also a reference to the difficult year of 2020. How was the passage of time for you last year?
2020 was a year where, for the first time in my life, time seemed to stand still. During the Circuit Breaker period, everything seemed to have stopped—it felt as if my life had stopped too. I realised, then, that I need to figure out what keeps me moving, what makes me feel alive. I realised that it was my loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, and even my favourite chicken rice stall auntie. These people helped me to realise that I’m not alone.
How do you think your sense of style has also evolved or changed along with the changes in your life?
I used to love tight-fitting and structured clothes. As I became a mother, I’m starting to appreciate comfort and freedom of movement. That doesn’t mean I am dressing down. Nowadays, I pay more attention to the materials of my clothes and adding details with accessories to make my outfit pop.
Wei Ting was chosen as one of our four candidates from the #NovelWaysOfDressing open call, which we launched at the end of the first phase of this collaboration with the Singapore Art Museum. We invited the public to submit their own sartorial interpretations of the artworks in the Time Passes exhibition—view the other submissions at the links here and here.