Art School Confidential – The ADM Grad Show

By Naresh Subhash
Photos and video:

Event: ADM Grad Show
Venue: School of Art Design and Media Singapore
Date: 10–18 May 2014


I woke up 2 years on the floor of an editing suite cramped with three others, we had been working through the night to finish our thesis films.

By this time, we had completed the 2 films and the third one was rendering through the night. As film students, there is a reason why we looked the way we did, we’d camp around fuelled by cigarettes, cheap-assed takeout, bad breath, and a ‘you don’t want to fuck me’ fashion sense.

Unlike normal universities, art schools graduate differently, we enjoy putting our work on show. It’s great PR for the school, and depending on the location (geographically and culturally) would also become platforms that bring to light unknown artists into the usually closed-out art circuit. Beyond that, it’s where most us get graded by our esteemed professors, who try to get the process over and done with enough speed in hopes to get to the crates of alcohol.

As film students, the Graduating show was the outdoor advertising that would highlight our short films to a larger creative community as opposed to merely the film industry on screening night. We showcased our props, trailers, and sometimes stand by our posters hoping someone would ask us a question or two.

Yes, we were naive.

But, that’s the graduating show in a nutshell – a group of graduating students saying ‘hello’ to the future, without a single clue to the realities of the harsh creative world. So looking back, for most of us, this was the night we plant a seed into a utopia we built over a period of four years in our heads.  


This year, the School of Art Design and Media (Singapore) will have yet another graduation showcase, the students might be different, the location different, but the spirit remains the same. A group of creatives finally taking their first steps into their futures, for some this would be their last show, for others it’s a beginning of a career, lifestyle or enlightenment towards discovering who they really are. Regardless, the show is a metaphorical gateway into the future and a culmination of vision and personality.

This year the works come from various perspectives – films shot with voices of dreams and nightmares, design and art resounding tones of personal reflection while photography remaining a meditative reflection of an observer.


One of the works that highlights this year’s show is 130912 by Malvina Tan Dhanaraj – a rising star within the Singaporean arts scene. Based on memories of the life she had with her late husband, her work is a meditative exploration into the intricate balance of living after death, and memories of love and redemption. She will be presenting a performance piece alongside her mixed media installation on the 10th of May. While, one might be quick to generalise the piece to be solely existential, her work presents the violence of love, death and subtly weaves in the complications of emotions and human strength. The work must be embraced with the sensitivity and vulnerability of the viewer as we come to realise that the themes do not just reflect that of the artist but of the a very human experience, that is to love, live and die.

Check out Malvina’s Website here:

Qi Xuan

Lim Qi Xuan’s remarkable talent is showcased in frighteningly horrific realism with her work – IBGS. Her cultural commentary on technology, creation and science is reminiscent of Jorge Lopes dos Santos, The Foetus Project – MU Eindhoven, 2011. Unlike the former, Lim’s detailed sculptures force her viewers to confront innate paranoia. Presented along side her signature illustrations, the visual communication major makes no effort in leaving us lost within a poetic nightmare in an almost a whimsical fashion.


While illustrations and sculptures collide on one front, we are then introduced to a work that echoes the long lasting debate – can photography be considered fine art?  Phyllicia Wong’s Fuse hints the aesthetics of the Dusseldorf School of Photography whilst borrowing aspects of the Wagner state of mind. Regardless, her work borders the axis of photography and painting, spaces become hauntingly enchanting whilst retaining a sinister sense of dehumanisation. It would be far too benign to suggest that the work lacks the finesse nor excitement, if anything it holds its own and invites us to emote within its confined spaces.


As with any show there would also come a great amount of predictable and somewhat invasive works that one would quite literally walk away from. A lot of these works start off as well intended pieces that tried to illustrate too many concerns in one work, thereby rendering the work voiceless. While others remain pure exhibitionism, playing with social stereotypes simply to evoke the shock factor. While, I do enjoy the occasional shock element, are we supposed to expect predictable and somewhat overused LGBT claim? One can only wonder.

So past the frenzy of opening night, and the in-betweens, comes the inevitable end. What then? For the class of 2012, we have moved past the show and have become professionals in our own right, some more than others. The journey begins not at the end of the show, but rather the beginning, knowing that this is the most protected your work will ever be is something one can never feel again.


The school show, while necessary, is also the violent end of guided art education. It is then up to us to find our voices, regardless in which industry we finally find ourselves in, to be authentic communicators and individuals. The challenge, then comes like a swift slap across the face – ‘can you handle this’ – would you be able to stand steadfast to your dream? Would you be willing to go the distance to ensure your voice is found and nourished? Or will you forever be an art school superstar?  

The Nanyang Technological University, School Of Art Design and Media Show begins on the 10 of May 2014.

ADM Grad Show 2014
School of Art, Design and Media
10–18 May 2014, 10am–8pm daily, including 12 May (Vesak Day)

Opening Night: 10 May, 6pm

The ADM Grad Show features the works of students from the Class of 2014 across six disciplines: Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Interactive Media, Photography and Digital Imaging, Product Design and Visual Communication.

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