Goddess of Mercy, 2012
4 screen video installation, The Substation, Singapore
Drawing parallels between two distinct families, focusing on their relationships with different faiths and beliefs, Goddess of Mercy invites the audience to contemplate our own mortality and the personal rituals that sustain us. Four videos simultaneously play on loop, revealing mundane yet intimate scenes of daily life and personal belongings from mothers and sons, following their routines at work, leisure time and faith practices. Evidently at different stages of their lives, both mothers and sons journey together at different tempos and sense of purpose.
Originally presented within an installation of two living rooms titled Goddess of Mercy in 2021, this work is an extension of Villa Alicia (2011), a site-specific project which paid tribute to the legacy of the late Dr. Nalla Tan, a prominent women’s rights and public health advocate in Singapore. The making of this work was propelled by the artist’s mother's renewed devotion to her Buddhist faith after being diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2010, and Dr Nalla Tan’s life with Alzheimer's disease.
A commissioned by the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2012: Art and Faith.
The Straits Times (Singapore), Life!, “Keeping the Faith”, Pg. Cover Story, Feb 2012
The Straits Times (Singapore), “Welcome to my living room”, Pg. C4, Feb 2012
TODAY (Singapore), “Private becomes Public”, Pg. T2-T3, Feb 2012
Review by Mayo Martin, TODAY Paper
"At this point, I should point out that the whole “Faith” bit wasn’t actually coming out as clearly as I’d expected. And the strongest works for me are the two that actually do have some clear signposts: Htein Lin's The Triple Gem and Alecia Neo's Goddess Of Mercy.
Both are installations that allow for some degree of audience participation.
Lin's new work at the Esplanade Jendela is the complete opposite of his previous Fringe 2010 installation The Scale Of Justice (a nominee for the recent APB Foundation Signature Art Prize), which dealt with his experience as a political prisoner under Myanmar's Junta.
And finally, over at The Substation is Neo 's work looking at mother-and-son relationships of two families. Set up as two reconstructed living rooms, one is invited to sit down and just soak in all the artefacts and videos. On one end, that of Dr Nalla Tan and son Tan Ying Hsien (from Neo/Chung's previous collab Villa Alicia); the other, Neo's mother Mdm Tay Siew Hwa and brother Alex.
It plays a lot on contrasts as one sees, in the former for instance, the son jogging as the mother goes around in a wheelchair, the former's interests in wine in contrast to the latter's Christian paraphernalia. The latter sees the mother as a devout Buddhist prayer in parallel to her son's computer gaming ways.
Meanings ping-pong back and forth not only between mother-and-son but between families as well—the two mothers' religious beliefs (Christianity/Buddhism) and states of health (Alzheimer's/cancer-in-remission), the two sons (an avid jogger and wine connoisseur/a car enthusiast and hairdresser), etc.
True, it seems to be a "quiet" visual arts programme for this Fringe edition. But I, for one, am drawn to the gentle persuasions of these two installation works."
Mayo Martin, Today