Artist Profile: Khairullah Rahim

Khairullah and Soap Opera in Botany House

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice?

I work across objects and replicas, installation, painting and the moving image. My practice looks into strategies of resourcefulness and the surveillance work with one’s deep rooted emotional conflicts informed by my upbringing in an ethnic minority, working class family. Through various means of collaboration and critical thinking, my practice considers mindful ways of shedding light onto the veiled lived experiences of my community. Several intermingling topics which are of interest to me include everyday survival, desire, shame, policing, labour and ambition. Currently, I am an adjunct lecturer at my alma mater, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore and a MFA Visual Arts candidate at Rutgers University, New Jersey. I am represented by Yavuz Gallery (Singapore/Sydney).

What are your thoughts on placing your artworks within a home like Figment’s Botany and Aviary House?

I’ve always felt that it is crucial for artists to be critical and experimental when thinking about the possibilities of any artwork. Adopting an open mind when considering methods of presentation is just a fraction of the critical thinking process. Site and location changes a work inevitably, causing shifts in perception and sometimes even the meaning of an artwork. For me, specifically with the work currently in Aviary House, the opportunity provided me not only a space to show outside of the white cube, but also to generate further discourses discussing the social and economical demographic contrast between the site of display and subject matter of the presented work.

flock (Cat Person) sits in Botany House’s living room

What do you hope people will experience from your works?

I hope the viewers will be willing  to pay more attention to the nuances within the work beyond simply mere photogenic objects. But instead, perhaps to also think further about how politics of appearances such as acts of beautification can and have served disadvantaged communities as survival strategies which adopt multiple functions such as deception and distraction.

Could you share with us some things that have inspired you?

1990s Indian cinema

Love Letter (directed by Shunji Iwai)

Taiwanese-American artist Mike Hj Chang

Khairullah Rahim (b. 1987, Singapore) works across objects and replicas, assemblage, installation, photography, video and painting.  His work is informed by strategies of resourcefulness and resilience, the politics of surveillance, and the relationships between legibility and safety. His practice attempts to shed light on the veiled narratives and lived experiences of those whose identities do not align with social norms.

Khairullah’s works are featured in Aviary House and Botany House.


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