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Visual Arts

Tiffany Singh

Social consciousness, aesthetics and ethics


Published: 16 Oct 2019

I am of Asian descent and have always been interested in exploring my philosophies through my visual arts practice. The work is repetitious in form and process and often becomes a meditative exercise that shifts my awareness… It was the East that first exposed me to ritual and ceremony and the heightened sense of being connected to something greater than my self.

Title of artwork: Maqula Al-Hala Wa Qaws Quzah – On the Rainbow and Halo – The Revision of the Optics
Medium: Mixed Media
Date: 3 Oct 2014 – 4 Jan 2015
Location: Esplanade Concourse

Tiffany Singh is a New Zealand artist of South Asian descent. Concerned with the sacred and how to provide her art a sense of transcendence, she has developed a practice that marries formal and sensorial prompts that draw audiences into a dimension that conveys the non-tangible ethos of the spiritual.

Through a cross-disciplinary approach and sensitive use of materials including chimes, bells, natural fibers and organic produce, among others, the artist works with time and architectural volume to create site-specific installations that can be accessed through the body and mind.

In the last quarter of 2014, Singh was commissioned to put up her Maqula Al-Hala Wa Qaws Quzah – On the Rainbow and Halo – The Revision of the Optics in the lofty Concourse space. The new, site-specific installation worked with the light, volume and acoustics of the Esplanade entrance, Singh using the Concourse rafters for the suspension of hundreds of little bells on ribbons. Colour spectrums were explored optically through the nuanced arrangement of the ribbons by hue and tone. Similarly, the miniature bells, swaying very slightly in the grand Concourse, proposed a discreet tinkling that however unobtrusive, brought serenity to the busy, high-traffic zone.

Explaining her references, Singh states that her choice of colour spectrums reflects the Eastern philosophy of the chakras, while bells have a relationship to the sacred in almost all belief systems, in some traditions used to summon nature spirits as well as disperse negative energy from a site. Along with the healing vocation of her practice, Singh is further interested in materials’ ability to be inclusive, speaking to all audiences.

Mindful too of ethical production processes and the artist’s responsibility to local artisan industries through fair-trade, Singh conceives her work as a bridge between audiences and social consciousness, aesthetics and ethics equally important when she plans a new installation.

In the Concourse, The Revision of the Optics worked in a subtle way, different light conditions along with the air currents and resulting vibrations triggering infinitely slight variations in the work’s dynamic according to the time of day and density of the crowd in the space. In this way, members of the public, if they watched carefully, were made aware, their attention quietly activated by the work so bringing them toward a peaceful and balanced inner peace, far from the milling crowd and the competing stimuli of the busy Esplanade entrance zone.

Through this work, Singh shows how simple materials arranged in a pared down way and in sync with their physical environment, could, without mimicking Buddhist or other religious visual cues, deliver a meditative sense of healing and connection through art.

The purpose of the work is to draw the audience towards the consideration of more spiritual things as well as to induce transformation and reverence… If the audience goes home with an increased sense of well-being, connectedness and wholeness, then much has been achieved.

Read Tiffany Singh's 2014 interview with Iola Lenzi
Visual Arts at Esplanade

Commissioned, curated and thematically developed by our Visual Arts team, Esplanade's quarterly exhibitions feature established and emerging artists whose contemporary Asian artistic expressions not only chronicle the issues and sentiments of the region, but also offer vital insight into the complexities of our changing cultural landscapes and identities. These shorts essays and interviews act as complementary material to the exhibitions, allowing for a richer and fuller perspective on the artists and their practice.

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