Jennifer K.Y. Lam
Curiosity is a feature related to exploration, investigation and learning. Through observations, it is evidently found amongst humans and many animal species. This inquisitive desire marks one of the starting points of this research, through asking questions... Titled "Organised Chaos", this paper aims to introduce the Wunderkammer as a model for contemporary curating practice and exhibition-making, and argues that this model is more suitable than the White Cube prototype in relation to our present context. However, instead of acting as oppositions, this paper insists on the need for both to exist as dichotomy.
Using Michel Foucault's philosophy on epistemes / knowledge structures in "The Order of Things" (first published in 1966-70) as a preliminary anchor for the argument, this paper discusses how curating practices and exhibitions are able to embody types of epistemes. It then raises the necessity of looking beyond Euro-America to include the Asian context for theories and principles in ways of thinking and knowledge production.
Wunderkammer, German for ‘wonder chamber’, is commonly known in museology as a display method that took form in the Renaissance period when European countries extended their explorations beyond their maritime borders. It reached out to far unknown lands and brought back ambiguous objects that testified to their journeys and encounters. The accumulation of these items formed collections that represented and symbolized the real world, one that is beyond European concentric narratives and explanations.
Extracting the essence of the chamber, I have been pondering on the conceptual term and theoretical model of the Wunderkammer. Such an examination can be identified in my projects Of Our Own Making (2014) and Whose Game Is It? (2015). As a curating model, the Wunderkammer responds to a specific time and location. It prompts consciousness of the numerous stakeholders and influencing factors. It reveals the underlying politics and relationships at play. It incites us to regain authorship and responsibility in this complex world. It also takes shape in different forms and medium – workshop, retreat, exhibition, commission projects, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Like a microcosm that echoes the macrocosm, the Wunderkammer brings to light urgent parts of our world.
School of Humanities
MA Curating Contemporary Art, 2015
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Based between Hong Kong and Singapore, Jennifer K.Y. Lam is a curator and researcher with over six years experience working internationally. With a previous degree in Art History, she also has a comprehensive knowledge and experience in museums and the market, alongside good relations with a wide range of artists in Asia. Her recent projects and exhibitions include Whose Game Is It?, London (2015); Of Our Own Making: Wysing Art Retreat, Cambridge (2014); and A History of Curating in Singapore, Singapore (2013).
Passionate about topics related to Asian & Southeast Asian Art, Jennifer has worked towards forming her own interests in curating upon arriving in London. Thus far, Jennifer's curiosity probes migration and traditions, knowledge structures and productions, and uncovering alternative histories and relationships.
- BA (Hons) Fine Art: History of Art & European Studies, The University of Hong Kong, 2009
- Curatorial assistant (clients: Curatorial & Collections, National Gallery Singapore) Singapore, 2012–13; Assistant to executive director and special projects coordinator, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 2009–11; Curatorial internship (clients: Curatorial & Collections, Singapore Art Museum) Singapore, 2008; Assistant (clients: Auction, Press, 20th Century & Contemporary Asian Art, Christie's,) Hong Kong & Singapore, 2006–12
- Whose Game Is It?, RCA Galleries, London, 2015; Picnic with an Artist @RCA Hub, RCA SHOW 2014, London, 2014; Of Our Own Making (Art Retreat 16), Wysing Art Centre, Cambridge, 2014; A History of Curating in Singapore, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore, 2013; Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, 2009; Is it tomorrow yet? (Highlights from the Daimler Art Collection 1926-2006), Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2008; Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize & Exhibition, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2008
- 'The Act of Painting', Peculiar Texture: Catalogue, Galerie Steph, Singapore, 2015; 'A Quest for Module 5', Curating Lab 2012: The Catalogue, NUS Museum, Singapore, 2013; 'Charles Lim, SEA STATE 2: as evil disappears', LEAP 19 - Turning Points, 2013, 190–1