Esplanade Presents | Visual Arts
I’m a Steamroller Baby
An Esplanade commission
This site-specific multi-channel audio and video installation is inspired by Kray Chen’s memories of National Service, when he often sang the cadence “I’m a steamroller, baby” with fellow enlistees as a way to pace themselves while out on a run or march. In the same way that unconscious muscle memory aids a body undergoing training, the tempo of music can serve as an external cue for a runner to coordinate movements more efficiently.
The idea of duration is essential in the expression and experience of this work. Its length is the maximum time a person can take to run 2.4 kilometres in the Individual Physical Proficiency Test to receive a gold score. Ticking down in real time against a rhythmic soundtrack of pounding steps, the videos suggest the physical demands of achieving this ideal result. At the same time it evokes a Sisyphean quest for fulfilment: the time taken to complete a task is as long as it takes. This installation reflects upon the physical, psychological and political outcomes of social engineering, as well as the potential of different individuals to be productive entities. It is part of Kray’s ongoing series of works investigating the body, performance and the Singapore identity.
Kray Chen (b.1987) graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore) with an MA in Fine Arts in 2014. His exhibitions include solo shows It’s a Set Situation at Grey Projects (2016), 1st Prize at ICA (2013) and Art Stage Singapore (2014), and group shows include the Prudential Eye Awards Exhibition (2014), The Pleasure of Improbable Placements at La Casa De Cultura Des Bernardes in Spain (2014), and Paradis Sans Promesse in FRAC Des Pays De La Loire, France (2015).
Artist Talk by Kray Chen (Singapore)
11 Mar 2017, Sat
2 – 3pm
Venue: Esplanade Tunnel
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