Friday, 9 February 2018

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Ho See Wah

Note: Diary of an NUS Museum Intern is a series of blog posts written by our interns about their experiences during the course of their internships. Working alongside their mentors, our interns have waded through tons of historical research, assisted in curatorial work, pitched in during exhibition installations and organised outreach events! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information! 

-

Ho See Wah is a fourth-year Global Studies student at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. As our  Programmes Research Intern, See Wah assisted in the conceptualisation and research of upcoming programmes related to the Museum's Vietnam War Art collection


I’ve always loved art. 

Reading literature, watching a theatre show, visiting art exhibitions – I love it all, so I was immensely nervous and excited when applying for the NUS Museum December internship. And I was positively thrilled when I got a position (preliminary research for a Cold War art symposium, in conjunction with the collection of Vietnam War art materials that the Museum has). 

It was scary at first, though. Visual arts was a terrain that I’ve never actually studied before, so I was quite apprehensive about how I was going to go about with my job. The first few days were basically me figuring out what the Museum has done thus far – I trawled through videos of past talks, I read through the materials that were amassed previously, and I did a lot of Googling. 

One of the days where I went down to the Museum to study collected resources.

The next step for me was to build on these resources by doing my own research. Now, this is where it got tough: with the whole world of Cold War art before me, and with this being a rather independent project, I had to figure out an action plan for what I should focus on, and how I should go about my research (at this point, I would like to thank NUS Libraries and the Museum’s Resource Library for being absolute sweethearts! I couldn’t have done this without you guys.) 

Eventually, I managed to come up with a rough sketch of what I envisioned the symposium could be like – a Southeast Asia-focused look at the nuances and trajectories of Cold War art and culture. I was pretty excited, since I love to learn about the dynamics of Southeast Asia during this post-colonial period, and it was also closely related to what I was studying in school (Global Studies). However, when I met with my supervisor, Michelle, to go through what I had done the past two weeks, I realized that I still had much to learn. Michelle rightly pointed out that my research had been too politically focused, with a thin focus on the art and culture itself. In my head, I had been too caught up with the idea that politics influenced art heavily, and that translated into my research (politics to art). After this realization came another one: I really, really, really wanted to learn, to absorb, and to create a new headspace where I could think and grasp visual arts from the art perspective – art to politics, art to society, art for art’s sake, et cetera (I’m born one year too early for NUS FASS’ Art History minor… sian.) 

Thereafter, I delved into my work with a clearer direction, and I am glad to say that, after a few weeks of recalibrating and reorganizing the way I carried out my research, I have indeed picked up a new way of viewing and researching about the visual arts, and am excited to explore this way of seeing even more (I’ll be taking Reading Visual Images as one of my modules next semester, yay!!). In this aspect, I’m really grateful towards the Museum for providing this opportunity for me to learn more about the art world, despite me having little background in it, other than my interest in arts. Also, I’m glad that I managed to churn out different materials for the Museum as well, despite my fears that my research might have ended up producing a scant amount of usable resources, and I hope that the Museum will find these useful!

On another note, I’d like to thank Michelle for planning such a wonderful ‘curriculum’ for us interns – despite the short duration of this internship, it was nevertheless jam-packed with activities: from visiting the National Gallery of Singapore with a mini-tour by one of the curators, to having a Collections & Conservation Workshop, there was always something planned to look forward to every week. 

Cool conservation workshop.

I’m really grateful that this internship offered so much learning, and I am truly and sincerely glad that I was able to spend a month with NUS Museum such that I was able to immerse myself into a field that I have never really experienced before in an educational/working capacity. 

Ho Tzu Nyen’s One or Several Tigers multimedia installation at National Gallery .

Lastly, I’d like to thank the people at NUS Museum – to Michelle, for the aforementioned and her guidance, to Sid, for her help and resources when I was starting out my research, to Wardah, for being really friendly and treating us to Starbucks on our last day, to everyone who has been welcoming and helpful in one way or the other, and last but not least, to the interns who are all super knowledgeable in their own ways (I enjoyed listening and talking to you guys about your experiences and interests!). 

Visit to the Baba House.

Till then for now!!

No comments:

Post a Comment