Nicola Singh is one of the contemporary artists involved in the latest 3 phase project at the Eastside Project. She is a performance artist who is based in Newcastle. There was a great opportunity for the group and me to have conversations with Nicola about her thoughts and ideas in relation to her artworks a few days before the launching “Pushing Attention” performance.

“Pushing attention”

The installation artwork contains 6 images of the close-up female naked body. They have printed the same size on 2 large Japanese Kozo papers in a monotone of grey. There are 3 images on each of the front sides from the top to the bottom balancing another, and their back is blank. They are suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room and the prints are facing to the entrance. A metal railing is placed between the prints and the entrance, its centre is empty but weaving in an up and down direction that creates some big and small gaps in between. Besides, there are some casual weaving designs on top of it. The making of “Pushing attention” involves manual labour and time investment, which connects the artist and the art piece. It was Nicola’s first time working on large scale printing on Kozo paper, I believe it was a challenge for her. As she said, it has taken a lot of time from her to get an image printed since the printing machine has to be set up and clean each time an image is printed and there were 6 of them.

About the artwork display, it was set for the audience to start looking her artwork before they walk in the entrance as the weaving on the metal railing aims to block their way to look into the prints directly. The set-up idea of vision changes in different angles offers potential and some interesting ways of how the prints can be observed and it opens up more possibilities of the perspective would be formed by the audience. Besides, the weaving creates an illusion as if the prints are moving as the audience moves whilst viewing the artworks differently from different angles creating a variety of alternative artworks within one singular piece.

The audience contributes to the illusion making the artwork looks like a performance, drastically evolving the subjective material. As a performance artist, Nicola focuses on developing her creative vision to performance, even though it starts with some board ideas that would fit fine within an exhibition space. “Pushing Attention” represents the core of working as a performance artist as the illusion makes it seem to perform. Nicola made use of the room and worked on a setting for her artwork to display and a performance expressing her thoughts as a means to an end of “Pushing attention”.

Feminine discourse

In contemporary society, people are sensitive and over-thinking into the situation relates to controversial topics, and make assumptions. But, it is true that we are more willing to share our opinions towards sensitive subjects. Feminism is one of the social topics getting popular in the recent decade, which is still sensitive and controversial to mention in societies. There are more information and social movement activities about Feminism are exposing and raising in digital and physical forms of content, which is common in some developed countries or cities. On the bright side, it enhances the social awareness about Feminism and opens up discussions which ideally link to critical-thinking. However, the term “Feminism” seems to be over-used by the mainstream media for reaching more views or else some people would mainly desire for making a profit out of it through a different interpretation and elaboration.

Nicola’s prints contain female naked body images including “breast”, “armpit”, “belly”, “hand”, “arm”, etc. Some people might see its art concept associates with feminism and serving a political purpose.  Nicola explained that she tried to offer a different way into thinking about what is political, as we all are influenced by contents with political undertones and overtones in the society. “Pushing attention” raised up about Feminism and representation of a female body in a subtle manner rather than explicit. The artwork challenges the way we usually receive from mainstream media about how a female body should gaze. Besides, the weaving in front of the pictures is usually considered as ‘female activities’ or any in relation to domestic works traditionally. I believe it has offered audiences some space to discuss the function of female and social norms about female and gesture of a female body.

The launching performance

The video shows roughly 3 minutes of Nicola’s performance expressing her thoughts, reading a poem written by her.

Thank you for reading.

If you are interested in knowing more about Nicola’s thoughts about the “Pushing Attention”, there is more information you can find on the Eastside Projects website, the black box project.

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