Singapore Art Books

Self-publishing seems to be on the rise in Singapore of late. The secondSingapore Art Book Fair will be held this November, there are now two local Risograph presses — Push—Press and Knuckles & Notch — offering economical means of producing zines and publications, and more artists putting out books as works via events (Print Lab and The Yum and Dangerous) and through organizations like La Libreria. I’m curious as to what’s driving this trend of “art books”, which encompasses publications from artist books to catalogues and zines. For a start, here’s a list of some recent works, and who’s behind them…

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World (2013)
BY: Institute of Critical Zoologists
NOTES: A photo book of artist Robert Zhao’s works.

Rubbish Famzine 02 (2014)
NOTES: A magazine by this family art collective made up of Claire, Renn, Aira and Pann.

Being Together (2013)
BY: John Clang
NOTES: A catalogue created for photographer John Clang’s exhibition of the same name in the National Museum of Singapore.

Light From Within (2012)
BY: Melisa Teo
DESIGN: Asylum
NOTES: A book of photographer Melisa Teo’s four-year journey through the spiritual worlds of Buddhism, Hinduism and Shamanism.

Science of the Secondary (2013)
NOTES: In this on-going series by design duo HOKO, each booklet dives deep into one object to look at how humans interact with it so as to uncover the science behind its “design”.

ARTiculate (2013) (Part of the TwentyFifteen.SG; Since 2013)
BY: Tan Ngiap Heng
NOTES: TwentyFifteen.SG is an initiative by photography group PLATFORM to publish 20 photo folios by Singapore photographers to commemorate Singapore’s 50th anniversary in 2015. They will all be designed by Roots.

WERK No. 22: Dover Street Market Beautiful Chaos (2014) (Since 2000)
NOTES: WERK magazine has attained a cult following for how it takes fashion into the plane of art through the print and production experiments of founder Theseus Chan. The magazine regularly works with fashion brands such as COMME des GARÇONS and artists like Joe Magee and John Clang.

Stranger to my room (2013)
BY: Sonicbrat
DESIGN: Kitchen.
NOTES: A music CD and art book package published by Kitchen Label. Founders April Lee and Ricks Ang have built a music label well-known for its “quiet music” and well-designed packaging. Each of the labels’ albums come with a photo art book that complements the listening experience.

Kult Magazine: Read (2014) (Since 2009)
BY: Kult
NOTES: A quarterly showcasing illustrations and visuals from around the world that respond to each issue’s theme.

Books of Haresh Sharma’s plays  (2011-2012)
BY: The Necessary Stage
DESIGN: The Bureau
NOTES: Playwright Haresh Sharma’s plays for theatre group The Necessary Stage have been compiled into various publications all designed by The Bureau.

WERK No. 22: Re-imagining the Future of Dover Street Market

WERK-No.22-pages-8In 2004, he helped COMME des GARÇONS set up its first Guerrilla Store in Singapore. That started the first of many collaborations between Theseus Chan of WORK and the Japanese fashion label owned by Rei Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the label’s multi-brand store, Dover Street Market, Theseus designed an entire issue of his cult graphic magazine, WERK, to explore what the next decade of Rei’s “Beautiful Chaos” might look like.

How did this new issue of WERK come about? Why dedicate it to Dover Street Market’s 10th anniversary?
In 2004, Adrian Joffe shared with me the revolutionary idea of Dover Street Market (DSM) when he visited the Guerrilla Store I was operating.

A decade has gone by quite rapidly. It is wonderful to see how that idea has evolved over the years and paved the way for so many other new retail concepts. WERKshares the pioneering spirit that embraces new, and celebrate forwardness, which is what DSM is part of and more.

How has Rei Kawakubo’s concept of “Beautiful Chaos” inspired this issue?
Rei wanted for DSM:  “…market place where various creators from various field gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision.”

This manifesto is enough to spark all sorts of ideas!

WERK is know for its experimental designs. How has this approach been applied in this issue?
We set for ourselves very tight perimeters in designing this issue. We only have images of past and present interiors and windows of DSM to work with…

Our task was to re-imagine the future under the heading of “The Next Ten Years”. Ironically, we went to the past to get to the future.

We created a new series of lo-fi “clashing, confusing, energetic” imageries that are ironic, using past and present elements of DSM.

The space imageries are all fiction (obviously) and they are created as a visual collage using images from DSM and NASA.


You’ve had a long working relationship with COMME des GARÇONS having run their guerrilla stores and having your graphics printed on their clothes. When and how did this partnership first begin?
I told him that was revolutionary and suggested to have one in Singapore, and that I will the charge of this outpost in the Far East. We did four occupations over four years at various sites, including Chinatown, the Malay-Arab quarters at Haji Lane, the heartlands neighbourhood at Bukit Merah View, and finally at Mount Sophia’s Old School, a defunct school.Running their Guerrilla Store in 2004 was the beginning. Adrian related to me about a project that he and Rei came out with, and it was their first Guerrilla occupation in Berlin.

In many ways, your work can also be described as “Beautiful Chaos” too. In your opinion, what are the similarities and differences between your design approach as compared to Rei’s?
What is common is that we all have strong personal visions.

Indie Magazines and Journals in SG

Some friends up north are putting together MEX, an exhibition of independent print magazines as part of the George Town Festival 2013. I ended up compiling a list of such publications in Singapore for them.

There’s a growing scene beyond the titles put out by media giants and localised international brands, I must say!

Singapore Architect (1966) by Singapore Institute of Architects
WERK (2000) by WORK
Kult (2009) by Kult
The Design Society Journal (2009) by The Design Society
Bracket (2010) by Anonymous

I-S Magazine (1995) by Asia City
JUICE (1998) by Catcha Media
Underscore (2009) by Hjgher
Terroir (2011) by Benjamin Koh
Encounters (2012) by Shin
Casual Days (2012) by Casual Poet
Ziggy (2012)
VULTURE (2012)

Ceriph (2010) by Ceriph
Cinematheque Quarterly (2012) by National Musem of Singapore
Galvant (2012) by Dilys Ng and Nathalia Kasman
ISSUE (2012) by the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore
Corridors (2013) by Michael Lee

BiblioAsia (2005) by National Library Board
beMuse (2007) by National Heritage Board

16/4 — to include The Design Society Journal and Singapore Architect.
18/4 — included VULTURE (Thanks Neville!)