Associate Artist Programme
(2022/23 Cycle)

OH! Open House is Singapore's leading art institution that develops curatorial programmes on site-specificity centred around the neighbourhood - people, places, stories - as the unit of exhibition and representation.

A group of artists selected by our Advisory Committee will take part in our inaugural Associate Artist Programme (AAP) over a one-year period (1 Sep 2022 to 31 Aug 2023). The programme immerses artists within the next art walk neighbourhood, Kampong Gelam and connects artists to local communities, businesses and historical places.

This programme serves as an alternative model and offers neighbourhood immersion, curatorial support, peer-to-peer dialogues and engagements with communities. It does not expect any exhibitional outcome beyond a public-facing work-in-progress presentations or sharing sessions.   

Associate Artist Programme (2022/23 Cycle)



Jimmy Ong (b.1964, Singapore)

Jimmy Ong works on objects, installations as well as relational work about minority communities. Based in Yogyakarta and Singapore, he graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, USA in 1992. His early work involves highly personal inquiries into bodily representation and queer(ed) identities. In 2015, Ong began developing a body of work examining the figure of Raffles across Singaporean and Javanese histories. Ong’s interest in the figure of Raffles has since unspooled as drawings, installations, videos, and performances.

He has exhibited extensively locally and internationally, such as Gallery 456 in New York (USA), National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Asian Civilisation Museum (Singapore) and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York (USA). Ong’s works are in the permanent collections of NUS Museum, National Gallery Singapore and Deutsche Bank AG, amongst other private and corporate collections.

Jimmy Ong, together with his research-collaborator, Kelvin Soh, will facilitate test kitchens that situate bakeries past and present to relate with each other around Singapore's colonial history.

Kelvin Soh (b.1980, Singapore)

Kelvin Soh is a visual communications graduate from Birmingham University who has recently taken an interest in social relational work with children from marginalised sectors.

Jimmy Ong met Kelvin Soh at the Tak Takut Kids Club during the pandemic, where he ran cooking workshops for children. Jimmy was interested in Kelvin’s ground-up method of researching domestic gardens in Boon Lay where Kelvin related with the residents and their renegade plots on public grounds.

Kelvin comes from a Hainanese family of bakers. In 2013-2015, he ran a cafe, Dong Po Colonial Cafe with his father on Kandahar Street featuring his family's traditional recipes. He looks forward to connecting food culture and colonial history in a neighbourhood he has grown fond of. 

Since 2015, Jimmy Ong has been interested in unravelling the legacies of colonialism. Based in Yogyakarta and Singapore, this critical interest has seen him develop a diverse body of work based on the figure of Raffles across Singaporean and Javanese histories. Such de-colonial works as Seamstresses’ Raffleses and Open Love Letters illustrate Jimmy’s inventive and thoughtful ways of dismantling colonial legacies and reclaiming local agency.

For the Associate Artist Programme, Jimmy extended his practice to look at colonial Kampong Gelam in a gesture that looked out for the community after the demolition of Pondok Java. Sensing the way the space of Kampong Gelam had been maximised for economic uses by present-day gentrification, thereby marginalising the community outside the realm of commerce, Jimmy sought to reclaim a space for inclusive community. With this in mind, Jimmy’s immediate reference was the Javanese practice of Nongkrong, which loosely means to sit around at a pop-up coffee stand and have conversations with one another without an agenda. Inspired by this practice, he decided to start his own “ngopi” sessions. Kept running by his collaborator Kelvin Soh, these were a series of regular pop-ups in back lanes held after maghrib prayers into the wee hours of the night. Participants sat on cardboard and wooden pallets as a gesture against hierarchy and exclusion; and over kopi and games of chess, they conversed and learnt about the lives and history of Kampong Gelam from each other.

“We [were] surrendering to the [liminal] space, the [historical] site, and the [hallowed] ground…to just being together.”

The final ngopi session testified to Jimmy’s success in rekindling the warmth of community in an otherwise fragmented Kampong Gelam. During that session, participants were treated to iced bandung and packed biryanis by their neighbours who were celebrating Mawlid, commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Across the ngopi sessions, that was possibly our most memorable experience of the gotong royong spirit of Kampong Gelam.

Associate Artist Programme
OH Open House Ltd
92C Syed Alwi Road
Level 4
Singapore 207668
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