artists talk is a collaborative ongoing performance piece by artists Aliansyah Caniago and Cam Xanh, conceived during Alinsayah’s residency at MoT+++. it was first performed in March 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as part of performance plus, a six-month performance art programme at MoT+++ running from March to August 2018. spreading globally, like the phenomenon from which its name derives, artists talk was conceived to be an ongoing series of utterances, with one performance per city worldwide.

by gathering artists in a room to talk but removing their audience, the performance questions the very concept of the “artist talk”, and the obtuse nature of “talk” itself. in requiring artists to continually vocalise their internal dialogues, it turns the thought inside out, and asks whether they really have something to say or if it’s just talking for the sake of talking. a three-channel video, with footage of previous talk, was installed in the room creating a clamour of constant noise. the multiple harmonies and dissonances of audible layers formed from this orchestra of incessant talk giving artists a platform to speak freely from cultural or political censorship, whilst simultaneously eradicating the possibility for them to be heard.

the second iteration of artists talk took place in Singapore as part of the S.E.A. Focus art fair. artists working in any discipline were invited to join Aliansyah Caniago, Cam Xanh and the MoT+++ collective, on Friday, January 25 2019 from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

replicating the first performance, participants were encouraged to talk simultaneously for two hours, and follow whatever vocal urges emerged. before entering, they were given a printed copy of the freedom of expression manifesto written by Cam Xanh, which set out a number of performance directives dictating their behaviour once inside the room. the manifesto inhibited artists from making eye contact or touching each other, as well as direct responses, although mimicry and provocation of other artists was allowed. most importantly, participants were required to stay inside the locked room for the entire two hours of the performance.

nine participants took part in the performance: four MoT+++ collective, four guest artists, including an art technician-cum-artist, and one curator. only participants were allowed in the room, with audience members restricted to watching through eye-level windows, unable to distinguish the murmurings inside. the purpose-built room was located adjacent to the S.E.A. Spotlight Talks, where industry and artists panels and talks were staged throughout the fair from January 24-27.

in an echo of the initial performance, some artists began to draw with charcoal on the walls. this action was extended in the performance’s second occurance to drawing on the windows with lipstick and markers also. artists used the paper articulations of the freedom of expression manifesto to cover the windows, further nullifying the audience’s experience and amplifying the performances’ differences.

after two hours participants were allowed to exit. the resulting room was left for the remainder of the fair: filled with drawings, writing and other marks, dialectical discourses of the first performance still continuing in the corner.

MoT+++ collective:

  • Aliansyah Caniago
  • Cam Xanh
  • Cian Duggan
  • Wu Chi Tsung

guest artists:

  • Claire Deniau
  • Jui-Hung, Ni
  • Mai Lam

art technician & artist:

  • Luke Schneider

guest curator:

  • Andrea Fam (Singapore Art Museum)