Finding comfort in an uncomfortable imagination: Ana Prvački at ICA Singapore

(Image credit: Ana Prvacki)

Now, here’s a controversial idea. Ana Prvački believes that given the world’s limited resources and the idea of sustainability, artists are under almost a moral obligation to produce less work and to imagine more.

‘Not every idea needs to be manifested,’ says the Serbian-born, Los Angeles-based performance artist with a impish smile. ‘I don’t think we need to be shipping massive installations all over the world for exhibitions.’

It’s a provocative challenge, and one Prvački has decided to explore in her first major solo exhibition in Singapore at Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore. ‘When I was doing my masters in fine art here, I had so many ideas, but I was frustrated because I just didn’t know what to do with them. So, I just catalogued it all with very few words and images.’

Twenty-three years later, these ideas have been collected into a 136-page catalogue. Two thousand copies are laid out in the gallery, austerely empty save for the books and – for those who don’t like flicking through books – its pages framed on the wall. There are no chairs and no tables, except for the boxes that the catalogues were packed in.

Prvački invites visitors to immerse themselves into the experience of simply reading pages filled with completely left-brain ideas, most unrealised, for artistic and performance pieces – among them an ATM that washes money in a Gucci fragrance and essential oils; setting fire to books; and a napkin that is actually a menu of different stains.

In the process, the physical act of reading and imagining while standing or sitting on the floor forms part of the created moment. Indeed, the exhibition’s title – ‘Finding comfort in an uncomfortable imagination’ – is a nod to a piece of work by Bruno Munari, Seeking comfort in an uncomfortable chair, in which the Italian artist slumped and sprawled in a multitude of poses on an armchair while reading a newspaper.

‘I’m obsessed with how we read,’ Prvački says. ‘I’m particularly against the concept of chairs which, to me, represent a rigidity of ideas, a physical and emotional status quo.’

None of which, judging by her new show, she could ever be found guilty of. 

The green grass

The 136-page catalogue consists of 'completely left-brain' ideas and images. Pictured: Hedge Hedge

(Image credit: Ana Prvacki)

Ana with Spinach embroidered napkin

‘When I was doing my masters in fine art, I had so many ideas, but I was frustrated because I just didn’t know what to do with them. So, I just catalogued it all with very few words and images.’ Pictured: Ana with Spinach embroidered napkin

(Image credit: Ana Prvacki)

For a Healthy Mind, we need to reconcile 'etiquette and erotics'

For a Healthy Mind, (pictured here) Prvacki believes we need to reconcile 'etiquette and erotics' – and she continually does so, impressively and with humour

(Image credit: Ana Prvački)

Portrait of Ana Prvački

Pictured: Portrait of Ana Prvački

(Image credit: Ana Prvački)

Headstand with Camera Obscura

Prvački is 'obsessed with how we read' – but is less pleased by 'the concept of chairs' which 'represent a rigidity of ideas, a physical and emotional status quo’, as seen here in her Headstand with Camera Obscura

(Image credit: Ana Prvački)

Ways to Protect

(Image credit: Ana Prvački)

INFORMATION
‘Finding comfort in an uncomfortable imagination’ is on view from 12 December 2015 – 3 February 2016. For more information, visit LASALLE’s website (opens in new tab)

Photography: courtesy of the artist

ADDRESS

Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore
Earl Lu Gallery
Basement Mezzanine
LASALLE College of the Arts
1 McNally Street
Singapore

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Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.