In 1967, Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School was the first pilot school to implement the Open Education Programme for blind persons in Singapore, integrating visually-impaired students into mainstream education. In 2014, in response to the absence of a permanent art programme for students living with visual-impairment, I initiated a project to encourage students’ exposure to art and cultural activities. For me, this project was an attempt to explore ways of being together.
Over two years, Unseen: Constellations provided a humble platform and network for exchange between secondary school students with visual-impairments and sighted persons. Beginning with a simple eight day creative workshop, Unseen: Constellations grew to involve volunteers and mentors from a diverse backgrounds working together with the students on their creative projects. The myriad projects sprouted have led to: a symphonic band composition, music videos about friendship and discrimination, a short film about a visually-impaired recruit's journey in the army, coming-of-age experimental shorts about love, danger and freedom, an audio story book featuring a blind criminal investigator, a stage for motivation, and a proposal for an alternative orphanage.
Through the diverse worlds of these teenagers and our collaborators, the exhibition presents and documents the intimate relationships between art and experience. It stages, the complex axes of engagement that can be reimagined between artist and subject, medium and interaction, between art and community/audience. The ultimate revelation is symbology– a constellation — of the ties that bind public and private agents in the living of lives, and of dreams.
The exhibition also features an ongoing documentation, which offers glimpses into the makings of the project via multiple lens. Seemingly divergent communities are formed, both concretely and temporarily.
Unseen: Constellations premiered in March 2016 at Objectifs Gallery.
Currently, Unseen has evolved into a independent platform, Unseen Art Initiatives for disabled professional and emerging artists to share and exchange artistic skills and inclusive practices.