Artist Seelan Palay set to open independent arts space

(PHOTO: Seelan Palay)
(PHOTO: Seelan Palay)

The artist who was charged under the Public Order Act for his performance art piece outside the Parliament House in October has opened an independent arts space at a block of shophouses along French Road.

Seelan Palay, 32, is the mind behind Coda Culture, an independent artist-run space that is due to open next month following three years of planning.

The artist was arrested on 1 October for performing part of a piece – a tribute to former political detainee Chia Thye Poh – outside the Parliament House. Police investigations into the incident are ongoing.

Seelan is funding his latest venture out of his own pocket, using funds from the artworks he has sold along with the money earned from other work – such as offering training in video advocacy. He does not intend to seek government funding to sustain the space and hopes to fund it through the “money I earn from the work I do”.

Speaking exclusively with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore, the artist said, “I’ve been meaning to get a bigger studio space for myself to work out from for a while now, so when I found this location I thought why not open it up to showcase other artists as well.”

He chose this particular space because he found it “close enough to the heart of the city, but still not right within it”, which also equates to manageable rent. “It’s also in a quaint neighbourhood with lots of old shops and architecture, which is definitely a plus,” he added.

The space is currently undergoing renovations but Seelan is already meeting artists and planning exhibitions for the upcoming year. His programming plans include two exhibitions a month, mostly featuring local and regional artists. Coda Culture’s first show will be a solo exhibition by printmaker Erica Chung that will take place at the end of January.

Other artists who will be showcasing their works will be Priyageetha Dia, who was behind the infamous golden staircase at Jalan Besar, performance artist Rizman Putra and visual artist Tang Mun Kit.

(PHOTO: Seelan Palay)
(PHOTO: Seelan Palay)

“I hope that it will be an active independent art space run by artists for artists, and for it to feature raw, sincere and unique works of contemporary art,” Seelan said.

He said he was inspired by now-defunct older spaces such as Post-Museum in Little India and Your Mother Gallery at Hindoo Road.

I hope for Coda Culture to carry its essence forward. One of inclusivity, experimentation and a DIY spirit,” he said.

Seelan is not so worried about meeting the same fate as those now-defunct independent art spaces.

Besides sharing the costs of exhibitions with artists, he has also been approached by individuals who would like to “fundraise from their network of art enthusiasts to help with the upkeep of the space and running of the shows”.

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