Conceptual artist Tiffany Singh has a diverse and ever expanding practice rich with spiritual, cultural and philosophical weight.
The depth and breadth of her work has seen her gain residences and exhibit throughout New Zealand and Australia, across India and the United States, with several new projects on the horizon. Her practice deals predominantly with notions of ritual, sacred space and place, health and wellbeing and Eastern and Western spirituality, all within a contemporary context. Her work is immersive and holistic, bathing the audience in the world she creates and asking them to engage, alter and co-author an experience of their choosing.
project Knock On The Sky and Listen To The Sound, 2011, has become a signature piece of Tiffany’s, particularly after its successful iteration at the Sydney Biennale in 2012, and is representative of her distinctive style. The visually and aurally vivid installation was a participatory work that involved hundreds of bamboo wind chimes being suspended from coloured ribbon. Festival goers were asked to take away a wind chime, decorate it and return it to the second phase of the installation on Cockatoo Island.
Tiffany’s next project, Fly Me Up To Where You Are, spread its wings in full effect at the Auckland Arts Festival in March 2013. This took Tiffany to 18 primary and intermediate schools across greater Auckland to ask our tamariki, “What are your hopes and dreams for yourself, your future, your family, your community and the world?” The responses were then translated, by the children, into Tibetan style prayer flags, destined to unite in Aotea Square as a prayer of hope from our youngest generation. The result: 3500 flags that blanketed Aotea Square in a rainbow of colour and inspiring messages. A parallel exhibition, Fly Me Up To Where You Are: Te Waharoa, was featured at Artstation throughout the Festival in the form of a short film by Robert George with Tiffany, which offered insight into the process and creation of the flags and also included a performance by Leanne Clayton. The audience was invited to express their response to the project with their own flags that Clayton then assembled on site. Fly Me Up To Where You Are has since been developed in Christchurch and Wellington and has been presented during the Christchurch Arts Festival and at Pataka Museum in Porirua. Having brought together diverse communities and creating an inspiring project, Tiffany has received an award from the Human Rights Commission and was a guest speaker at The Human Rights Diversity Forum in August.
Her most recent venture, Bells of Mindfulness, was exhibited during Tiffany’s three-month residency at Montalvo Arts Centre, San Francisco, as a part of the Come Healing exhibition. Based on the Buddhist tradition of using temple bells to bring oneself back to the present, Bells of Mindfulness saw 1000 traditionally made metal bells and 1000 paper cranes being hung from a persimmon tree. After reflecting on the bells, the audience was asked to select one that resonated with them. They should then transport it to a sacred place of their choosing and document its new-found surroundings by uploading an image to the online photo board flickr, thusly transcending the work and creating a live and active engagement with its community. The bells were commissioned by Tiffany and Montalvo to be made by Janmamad Salemamad Luhar of Kutch in Gujarat, India. It was facilitated through Global Exchange and Indika to promote fair trade.
Over a twelve month period at the Auckland Art Gallery’s Learning Centre, Tiffany featured May The Rainbow Always Touch Your Shoulder, which showcased two works: Dusted with Spices of a Million Flowers and The Direction of Sunbeams. Beginning in December 2012, the work slowly shifts through the colour spectrum, all the while encouraging visitors to participate in an exchange of their personal views of the world around them in relation to the colour displayed in the gallery. A visceral experience, the gallery is filled with the smell of bees wax, immersing ones experience in a subdued sense of summer and calm – in the land of milk and honey.
Earlier in the year, Melanie Roger Gallery showcased the work Samsara. ‘To perpetually wander, to pass through states of existence’, Samsara referred to the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, as present in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Bon, Jainism and Yoga. As evident in the highly crafted pieces, the casting, moulding, colouring and materiality choices allowed for an evolution and reincarnation of processes to gradually shift through each item, which, when viewed as a whole, is the trademark rainbow spectrum – ubiquitous to Tiffany’s style. It is the slow observer, the patron, however, who suspends the intellectual mind and engages the intuitive that gains full benefit from the connection with the relic, the altar. Its likeness to a spiritual state personal to one’s own experience was integral to this work and, for the first time, allowed the connection to be cemented through the ‘finite’ exchange of gift for money, a first for Tiffany.
To say these projects are only the tip of the iceberg for Tiffany is almost too large of an understatement. Many of the fore-mentioned and known future projects have had various iterations and live beyond the walls in which they were initially built or designed for, but that is also a part of her process, a ritual within itself. Her body of work transcends religious restraints and cultural expectations to connect to a base understanding and enlightenment of the human condition. This is the where the work lies, and when it connects, its bounds know no limits. Tiffany is represented by Melanie Roger Gallery
Written by Elisapeta Heta