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

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

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. 

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