This Saturday, Berlin-based sound artist Kangding Ray will present his response to Fort Canning Hill in Singapore. Traditionally a forbidden burial site for Malay royalty and colonially the vantage residence of British governors, the hill now becomes the compositional subject for the second installment of INSITU, a project that brings multi-disciplinary artists to selected sites in Asia to create original works mapping out their physical encounter with the space/place. Simple idea with intriguing possibilities, arguably a logical progression from Kangding Ray’s previous work.
In 2010’s Pruitt Igoe single, the myth surrounding the epic failure of the 1950’s St. Louis housing project is transposed into two movements depicting its rise and fall, accompanied by remodelling and demolition works by Alva Noto and Ben Frost. While the interpretive process is relatively straightforward and even literal at parts, Kangding Ray’s choice of depicting the project’s trajectory is spot on in capturing with dramatic irony and bone-crushing precision the doomed implosion of the modernist spirit. Here, even the field recorded street singers from Uttar Pradesh sound tragically trapped in the track’s rigorously imposed structure.
Yet, it’s one thing to interpret a site’s historical journey from afar with the luxury of hindsight and distance, but quite another to respond directly and personally to one, in situ. How Kangding Ray chooses to deal with the latter is perhaps what I’m most looking forward to this Saturday. - Dan.
Kangding Ray performs this Saturday at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets are available from Sistic. INSITU is organised by Beautiful / Banal as part of the Singapore Arts Festival. Pruitt Igoe is out now on Raster-noton.