Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Drawing for Mandi Bunga Zine (1/5)
Drawing for Mandi Bunga Zine (1/5)

These are five of the original drawings for an eight-page zine entitled Mandi Bunga by Sharon Chin. Representing the artist’s first foray into zine-making, Mandi Bunga was printed and distributed alongside Sharon Chin’s collaborative public performance project commissioned for Singapore Biennale 2013, in which she engaged over a hundred people to take a public flower bath with her on the lawn of National Museum of Singapore. 

The Mandi Bunga project was inspired by Chin’s experience participating in the Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 street rallies calling for free and fair elections in Malaysia. What she drew out was not the incident of the protest itself but the experience of being part of a large movement, and the struggles of not losing oneself in its flaws and contradictions. By the latter, the artist referred to the contradictions of her project being financed by the Biennale, and by extension, the Singapore government and its citizens. Her takeaway from the experience was translated into Mandi Bunga in three parts: firstly, over a hundred people were invited to make their own sarongs to wear during the public flower bath; a ten-minute performance of a mass bath was held on the lawn of the National Museum; finally, an exhibition was held documenting the process and outcomes of the performance. By committing these strangers to the act of bathing publicly, Chin sought to explore three questions: what does it mean to do something alone? What does it mean to do something together, and how can we be ourselves with others?

The zine, drawn in black ink, was created prior to the performance and distributed for free on the day to explain the artist’s motivation and approaches. The title page is decorated with a roiling hair-like pattern that surrounds the central text. The following spread is an illustration of a dense cloud of gas released from a canister, which simultaneously acts as a text bubble for the artist’s statement. Subsequent pages follow this combination of handwriting and drawings, with a more interactive segment where readers are encouraged to annotate their copy in response to the artist’s prompts. One of the five preparatory drawings we see here formed the poster printed at the back of the zine, featuring the same hair-like pattern decorated with various objects and symbols, which could be viewed when the zine was completely unfolded. To Chin, the zine’s physicality and its invitation for participation was an important factor behind her choice of medium; the zine, hand-drawn and designed to be passed from person to person, could instigate a deeper connection between creator and reader. A digital version of the zine is now freely available to download on the artist’s website.

Ink on paper
27 x 39 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Sharon Chin
About Sharon Chin

Sharon Chin (b.1980, Petaling Jaya) is an artist, curator and activist who locates the body as a space of action to negotiate codified systems of place, history and language. Working across a variety of media such as performance, installation, sculpture, drawings and text, Chin produces work that is often simultaneously political, performative and personal. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally, including at A+ Works of Art (Malaysia, 2018), Chan + Hori Contemporary (Singapore, 2017), the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Brisbane, 2015) and the Singapore Biennale (2013). Her work is in the permanent collections of Singapore Art Museum and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

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