SIXTEEN is an installation of 16 mysterious wooden chests built in a bold spectrum of colors. These chests are crafted to resemble treasure boxes, which fit one inside the other — the largest, the size of an over-sized antique travel trunk, down to the smallest, the size of a musical box.
“If you open this box it will change your life forever” is the brass-engraved plaque mounted on the first and largest chest. Instantly, the viewer is implicated in the telling of a story through the ritual of opening each subsequent box. Every box contains a surprising turning point in itself, determining the places we go, the people we meet and the experiences we have. The boxes exist as a physical bildungsroman, whose journey is poignant and irreverent, funny and sad, philosophical and silly, candid and wistful all at once. It is an exercise that tries to make sense of all the real and metaphorical roads we take, and those we leave behind.
“As with her earlier pieces, Sixteen continues to engage and expose the obvious that has been obscured by our own lack of faith and sight. Where the opinion, presence and voice of the ‘maker’ were evidently felt in the earlier works, here, Dawn successfully silences her personal marks, allowing viewers to voluntarily follow a set of persuasive instructions through each of the sixteen boxes (which like me, I am sure you would), forgetting the existence of the artist and the art. We become engulfed in a playful exercise of self-reflection and discovery. Going through the work, one might anticipate the coming of a surprise or shock. In the end, we feel as if we have been transformed into an overly anxious Narcissus, gazing at our own beautiful reflection in the water.”
– Khai Hori, Curator
“SIXTEEN is a timely reflection of my generation of young nomadic Singaporeans, whose breadth of opportunities is unprecedented. Universal yet intimate, the work shines light on those burdened by the impossibility of choosing because of their very myriad of choices. The boxes cocoon a tinkering sense of dislocation and loneliness born from our freedom, and capture our generation’s obsession with looking back whilst moving on.”
– Dawn Ng