NTU CCA Singapore is privileged to be presenting Quadra Medicinale by the late Belgian artist Jef Geys (1934–2018), shown for the first time in Asia. Initially commissioned for the Belgian Pavilion at Venice Biennale in 2009, the project surprised the art world with its organic subject matter and its collaborative process.
Quadra Medicinale adopted the interdisciplinary research and knowledge-forming methodologies core to Geys’s practice. Here, a geographical quadrant of a presumably organised, carefully planned urban territory is marked out and from within this “terroir,” attention is thrown on the accidental, often-overlooked street plants, or “weeds.” Through uncovering the productive properties of these seemingly useless and parasitical plants, with the aim of creating a manual for the homeless, the project juxtaposed objective, scientific systems of classification with the socially practical forms of knowledge sharing and archiving.
Structured as a universal manual, the method employed in the project can be replicated anywhere. Quadra Medicinale Singapore includes a newly-produced Singapore section where local collaborators will be invited to identify and archive 12 street plants from a quadrant of their neighbourhood.
Since the late 1950s, Geys produced works that focused on the construction of cultural, social, and political engagement beginning with the idea of “terroir,” which he considered “a place where everything is able to take place or, perhaps better, has taken place, something broader than ‘biotope:’ bio, nature, greenery and everything thereabout, everything that floats in the air and everything that sucks [. . .]” Questioning mainstream, rational, organised systems of planning, information, and experience, Geys casted doubt on the fundamentals of images, language, as well as interrogated art’s system of meaning-making and the relation between sense, form, and function.
Quadra Medicinale Singapore is guest curated by Dirk Snauwaert, Curator of Jef Geys’s Quadra Medicinale at the Belgian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2009 and Artistic Director at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels, in collaboration with Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design, and Media, NTU and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore. Snauwaert was NTU CCA Singapore’s Curator-in-Residence in 2015.