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"The Subjunctive Mood: Recent work by Cecily Cheo"
2007-08-30 until 2007-09-16
Sculpture Square Limited
Singapore, , SG Singapore

The Subjunctive Mood: Recent work by Cecily Cheo runs from August 30 until September 16, 2007 at Sculpture Square in Singapore. Cecily Cheo states: "The New Oxford Dictionary of English provides the following neat definition: “The subjunctive is used to express situations which are hypothetical or not yet realized, and is typically used for what is imagined, hoped for, demanded or expected.” Cecily Cheo is a painter, writer and independent curator. Since the early 1980s, Cecily has taught art history and theory as well as studio practice in various art schools and universities in Australia. As a painter, she has exhibited her work in Australia, Singapore and China. She has also initiated and curated exhibitions which relate to issues in contemporary inter-cultural discourse. She co-authored with T.K. Sabapathy, the book Cheo Chai-Hiang: Thoughts and Processes. (Rethinking the Singapore River), published in 2000 by Singapore Art Museum and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. She has lived and worked in Singapore since 2003. she is currently teaching at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.

She continues: I first came to know of the subjective verb tense while living and working in Rome and learning the Italian language. I used to try comparing grammatical structures of Italian with those of English. This proved helpful except when I came to the subjunctive. As this tense has only a vestigial presence in English, there was no longer a point of reference that I could work from and I had great difficulty grasping the concept of the subjunctive – why it existed and how it might function.

"The experience of trying to grasp an abstraction, caught and held my imagination.

"Eventually I came to think that there must be something very special about language which has a grammatical structure devoted exclusively to all that is potential, hypothetical, not yet realized modes of thinking, feeling and being. A liminal space!

"The experience of living and working in Singapore informs this work. An intense and prolonged encounter with a culture very different from one's own is complex, unsettled and unsettling. On a daily basis one partakes in provisional transactions in which words, gestures, readings and intentions never quite fully connect with meanings.

“ 'The Subjunctive Mood' consists of 19 ‘paintings’ (for want of a better word), each measuring 92cm X 92cm approximately. The work makes use of stills from “The Night Porter’, a film written and directed by Liliana Cavani that was first shown in 1972. I use the phrase ‘make use of ’, as the paintings do not reference the film’s narrative. Rather, the film becomes more like imagined territory in which I have been wandering, thinking, playing and processing ideas/theoretical concerns/reflections/experiences that comprise my living-working-imaging life."


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