Yeo Siew Hua (Filmmaker, Director) and Dr Marc Glöde (Assistant Professor, NTU School of Art, Design and Media)

Conceived during the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2019, while large scale fires were consuming the forests of Indonesia, Yeo Siew Hua's 'An Invocation to the Earth' confronts climate collapse through the lense of pre-colonial folktales and animistic rituals. Through spoken spells and bodily entanglements, the video conjures up the fallen environmental defenders of a region ridden with ecological threats in the hope that their spirits will be reborn once again.

This recording is part of the two-day symposium, "Environmentally-Engaged Artistic Practices in South, Southeast Asia and the Pacific" held at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, supported by the Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 1 Project (RG39/21) and led by Principal Investigator, Professor Ute Meta Bauer. This symposium was organised by Professor Ute Meta Bauer and Research Assistant Angela Ricasio Hoten, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University Singapore with additional support from Eunice Lacaste, PhD Candidate at NTU ADM.

Featured image credits: Marvin Tang, Temperature House, 2014, archival inkjet print. Courtesy the artist. 

In this instalment of "On AiR", Marvin Tang shares with us his investigation into the structures of power and control, particularly towards historical narratives and the notion of collective identities. His research during his residency at NTU CCA Singapore is part of a body of work titled, "The Colony", which started in 2018.

Tang chose to focus on Wardian cases for his residency, propelled by his interest in exploring the past and present roles of colonial botanical institutes. Here, the Wardian case is framed as a point of departure to excavate the social, economic, and environmental implications of planetary plant movements and the displacement of labour forces required to sustain booming plantation economies.


Claiming the role of the artist as “cultural ventriloquist” who lends multiple voices to spectral matters and speculative histories, for this talk Zarina Muhammad will weave together research threads and aesthetic strategies that underpin the main projects she developed in the past year: Talismans for Peculiar Habitats, Pharmacopeias for Accredited Agents of Poisoning and Apotropaic Texts, and Pragmatic Prayers for the Kala at the Threshold. The artist will unpack the polyphonic narratives embedded in her installations and expand upon her long-term engagement with Austronesian cosmologies, guardian spirits, non-conforming bodies, and memory lapses occurring in the cultural shifts from pre-colonial to post-colonial times. * Penunggu refers to the spirit that guards, supervises, or protects a particular place, region, nation, age group, country, culture, or occupation. It is believed that it can be protective, benign or malevolent. Though not entirely synonymous with the Kala, the gate guardian in sacred architectures, the penunggu is also a guardian of spaces. The root word of ʻpenungguʼ is derived from the Malay word ʻtungguʼ, which means ʻto waitʼ.

Check out Helena Varkkey's insightful take on Amar Kanwar's 'The Sovereign Forest' at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Arts, Singapore in tandem with Amar Kanwar's Exhibition 'The Sovereign Forest' held at NTU CCA, 2019.

In this instalment of On AiR, we hear Artist-in-Residence Tini Aliman share about her artistic enquiries and friendship with fellow resident Russell Morton. Tini’s research interests are rooted in forest networks, biodata sonification, spatial acoustics, and plant consciousness. During the residency, she approached trees as archives of environmental soundscapes, breathing new life into tree stumps and different types of wood.