Big on small wonders

Big on small wonders
Size matters in this ongoing group show - but not in the way you think

by Mayo Martin
Nov 13, 2009
TODAY Newspaper, Singapore

THERE'S a sculpture at the Esplande's Jendela gallery of a man and child emerging from what seems to be a mound of earth.

And the whole thing is the size of one's hand.

American artist Thomas Doyle's Dissolution Of Entities is part of Eniminiminimos: Artists Who Make Things Small II, an ongoing exhibition by 10 artists where the rule is not to think big, but small.

The show features everything from houses and buildings to big screen movies to some grand dramatic moments - all reduced in size.

Justin Wong's quirky, dark-humoured, flash-animation piece, Events, is reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels, while his fellow Hong Konger Tang Kwok Hin has created a diorama made from compacted comic books.

Singapore's Tan Seow Wei lets you scrutinise some private moments - drawn and placed in petri dishes; while Chun Kai Qun re-imagines a kind of war-torn landscape with his now-familiar, intricately created dioramas. Complete with extremely minuscule chickens, of course.

Eniminiminimos is the continuation of a series that started in Hong Kong in 2008, when curator and participating artist Michael Lee Hong Hwee was prompted by a friend to read poet/critic Susan Stewart's On Longing: Narratives Of The Miniature, The Gigantic, The Souvenir, The Collection.

The exhibit is a response to how people now fetishise the "big".

"Many things are condensations of reality, like a book or a piece of cake," explained Lee, who himself contributes trademark paper models of buildings. In this case, 1:1,000 scale works made from unrealised designs of buildings, including one for the World Trade Centre.

The focus on these intricate miniature artworks is also a way of bringing back "issues of craftsmanship and the way we look at things", as well as bridging two terms that's seen these days as mutually exclusive - the contemporary artist and the miniaturist.

Interestingly enough, the last piece in Eniminiminimos reverses the whole experience.

Taiwan's nofearsam921 features a video work of a sparrow inside a diorama of a work studio, effectively making the tiny bird look large.

That's because Lee, who's planning to travel the show to Taiwan or Japan, said the exhibit isn't simply an act of reversing one's obsession from big to small.

"It may look like (we're fetishising the small), but to get people out of the mode of size fetish, it is necessary to state that fascination with big. Let's consider other ways of experiencing size."

Eniminiminimos: Artists Who Make Things Small II is on at Jendela, The Esplanade, until Jan 3. Free admission.