Practising Habits of the Day

Encounters Leave Traces

Opening Friday 12 February at 6:30 pm

Exhibition runs Saturday 13 February – Wednesday 13 April 2016

Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore

Gallery 1
LASALLE College of the Arts
1 McNally Street
Singapore 187940

Opening hours:
12:00 noon to 7:00 pm, closed on Mondays and public holidays

Free admission

Artists: Kray Chen, Latifa Echakhch, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Tiên Thủy Nguyễn, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Laure Prouvost

With contributions from Marguerite Humeau and Edgar Schmitz


Practising habits of the day

Just change your environment you say, this crosses your mind as a different wind blows across your face. No matter how drastic the changes we make, we continue navigating existing traces, more or less consciously looking for consistencies and continuities. Let’s look at the drives that constitute our behaviour; perhaps later we can observe how they inform what is constituted.

The choreography of repetitive movements that underlie our day, patterns and gestures, language routines—they imprint on our memory, the environment we inhabit and the objects we use. It is not only about the usual pursuit of rationality and sense. It is a necessity to keep track of oneself and pave a way even in the realm of uncertainty. It is a way to cut short the number of decisions and choices we are expected to make on a daily basis. We allow ourselves the freedom to carry out actions without questioning, mechanical movements that free the body of self-analysis.

Habits ground us in a reality that is comfortable and familiar, yet reality can slip into monotony or suppression like a loud sound turned into an inaudible whisper running in the background … This resonating utterance, within this constructed environment. Grasp the reverberations. The time is blue and we are changing. We practise and unlearn the ‘habits of the day’.



Image: Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, The Bucket (video still), 2001, video, 18 mins. Courtesy the artist and Micheline Szwajcer Gallery


Practising habits of the day examines the relationship between forms of behaviour and artistic production. The artists brought together in this exhibition engage with daily gestures and routines as artistic material, but also as a constitutive force in the process of art-making and meaning-making.  The exhibition examines how certain attitudes are formed and solidified in time, but also how they extend and are embedded in the body of the viewer and of the institution. The institution is often the zone of the habitual, a space where artistic and curatorial attitudes enter and are accommodated; ways of viewing and showing, practices of display and communication turn into norms. How does the artistic and curatorial subjectivity navigate the habitual?


Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost’s immersive video installation It, heat, hit (2010) overturns the conventions of filmic language, testing the limits of perception of the viewer through rapid and aggressive juxtapositions of text and image. In their early video work Bucket (2001) the artist duo Harald Thys & Jos de Guyter are staging domestic scenes that slip into the banal and absurd. In the video series, Exercise now and fit a standard size coffin later (2013), Kray Chen produces a grammar of gestures appropriating exercise routines to reflect on how habits are formed and embedded in the memory of a body and of a nation. Latifa Echakhch’s large-scale wall installation Plaintes (2009), a defacement of the gallery space, is based on Le Corbusier’s Modulor principle of architecture and articulates the contradictions of modernist aspirations where elegant housing units turned out to be claustrophobic environments. Gary-Ross Pastrana’s artistic process of breaking and recombining elements, is performed in a reiteration of his previous object-based work 99% (2014), while a new work in response to the framework of the current exhibition engages with common rituals. In her work Goldfish (2015), Tiên Thủy Nguyễn practices intimacy in an attempt to live her art; her investigations of relationships translate into objects and fiction writing aimed to preserve the memory of her close encounters.