This exhibition of works on paper by Shubigi Rao takes its title from the philosopher Hans Vaihinger’s notion that most human concepts are simply useful fictions. The term has now expanded in meaning to also encompass the enduring significance of fictional narratives and meta-narratives in human culture and history.
The works look at our attraction to flawed fictional narratives, how knowledge and information are accessed and how we morph multiple bits of data into generating ideas, belief and useful fictions. As microcosms of intersecting ideas and events through history, each is seemingly self-contained, yet together they form a mesh of intersecting narratives. Drawing here then, is the visual equivalent of an oral history, where the process of narrating is as significant as the final ‘product’.
Shubigi Rao is a visual artist and writer whose interests range from archaeology, neuroscience, 13th century ‘science’, language, libraries, historical acts of cultural genocide, contemporary art theory and natural history. Her work involves complex layered installations comprising handmade books, text, drawings, etchings, pseudo-science machinery and archives, and has been exhibited and collected in Singapore, Indonesia, Iran, Hong Kong, China, the Netherlands and India.
Notable exhibitions include the solo The Retrospectacle of S. Raoul (2013), group shows Still Building (2012), Beyond LKY (2010), Found and Lost (2009), The Tuning Fork of the Mind, commissioned for the second Singapore Biennale (2008), Singapore Art Show at the Singapore Art Museum (2007), Second Dance Song (2006), Appetites for Litter: the 8th emerging artist show at PKW (2006), and New Contemporaries (2005). Her publications include Bastardising Biography (2005) and History’s Malcontents: The Life and Times of S. Raoul (2013), chronicling 10 years of artwork and writing under the pseudonym S. Raoul. Her book-works include pseudo-art history books and limited-edition artist books. She was also a featured author in the Singapore Writer’s Festival 2013.
Her awards include the prestigious Creation Grant (2013), and the Presentation Grant (2013, 2012), both by the National Arts Council Singapore, The Winston Oh Travel Award (2005), the Student Development Award (2006), and twice the Award for Excellence in the Arts for outstanding student of the year (postgraduate – 2008 and undergraduate – 2006).
She lectures part-time in Art Theory at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore, where she obtained her MFA (First Class), and BFA (First Class). She also holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Delhi University, India.