Shabbir Hussain Mustafa
Singapore/Sri Lanka

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa Photo: Leila Shirazi

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa is Senior Curator at the National Gallery Singapore, where he currently heads the curatorial team overseeing Between Declarations and Dreams, a long-term exhibition that surveys art about Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present day. From 2013-2015, he was lead curator of Siapa Nama Kamu? (Malay: ‘What is Your Name?’), the Gallery’s other long-term exhibition, focusing on art in Singapore from the late 19th century onwards. In 2015, he curated SEA STATE, the artist Charles Lim Yi Yong’s commission for the Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale.
 
Mustafa was formerly Curator (South-Southeast Asia) at the National University of Singapore Museum, from 2007-2013. Here, his approach centred on deploying archival texts as ploys to engage different modes of thinking and writing. In 2017, Mustafa was awarded the DAAD Scholarship in Berlin for his curatorial work. Most recently, he was co-curator of the Dhaka Art Summit 2018, where he presented The Sunwise Turn, an interdisciplinary project platform on the philosopher-curator Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy. In the same year, he co-curated with Catherine David, Latiff Mohidin: Pago Pago (1960-1969), an exhibition held at the Centre Pompidou that traced the painter-poet Latiff Mohidin’s movements across Europe and Southeast Asia as he sought to challenge the dominance of Western modernism in the 1960s.
 

  • SHIMURAbros, Chasing the Light, 2017, Single-channel video projection © SHIMURAbros
    SHIMURAbros, Chasing the Light, 2017, Single-channel video projection
  • SHIMURAbros, Chasing the Light, 2017, Single-channel video projection © SHIMURAbros
    SHIMURAbros, Chasing the Light, 2017, Single-channel video projection
  • SHIMURAbros, Chasing the Light, 2017, Single-channel video projection © SHIMURAbros
    SHIMURAbros, Chasing the Light, 2017, Single-channel video projection

SHIMURAbros' “Evacuation” and “Chasing the Light”

Shabbir Hussain Mustafa invites SHIMURAbros to present Chasing the Light (2017) in the Ulaanbaatar International Media Art Festival and to produce a new work Evacuation to be presented in the project exhibition in Gwangju. SHIMURAbros are a brother/sister artist duo composed of Yuka and Kentaro Shimura. While film is the catalyst of all their creations, SHIMURAbros’ exploration of the moving image extends beyond the two-dimensional limit of film to investigate the shifting balance between light and matter. They incorporate elements of sculpture and avant-garde filmmaking in installations that articulate an intricate and playful re-interpretation of cinematic language. In 2014, SHIMURAbros relocated to Berlin where they are currently resident researchers at the Studio Olafur Eliasson.
 
Chasing the Light continues SHIMURAbros’ investigations into the ontology and language of film. A series of events are woven together through a focus on light as protagonist and power source in the cinematic process. The layering of events is translated into film through the simultaneous blending of three sources of light: an ancient coconut lamp, an amalgam of city lights, and the lighting setup of the recording. Playing with perception, the work commences as an abstract image, eventually dissolving into a still-life of the post-industrial landscape of the port of Singapore.
 
Evacuation is an archaeological re-membering enacted through film. It traces the story of Chiune Sugihara and his wife Yukiko, who, while Sugihara was serving as vice consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania during the Second World War, hand-wrote over 6000 Japanese transit visas to assist Polish and Lithuanian Jews in fleeing Europe. It is said that they worked for 18-20 hours a day, writing as many visas as they were physically capable. This unusual act of disobedience to the Japanese Empire put the Sugiharas’ family at risk. Juxtaposing interviews with survivors from the Jewish community alongside archival fragments, Evacuation asks how one may expand the space for to discuss what constitutes an act of humanity in this time (our time).