Dawn Ng

‘An Atlas of Us’

Frieze New York x Breguet

Curated by Jenn Ellis

Exhibition May 1 – 5, 2024. The Shed, 545 W 30th St, New York.

Dawn Ng, An Atlas of Us, Frieze New York, 2024

We are delighted to share that Jenn Ellis has been appointed the Frieze and Breguet curator for 2024-5.

Jenn Ellis will be curating a series of projects—one at each fair in New York, Seoul, London, and LA—rooted in emotion and evolutionary change. Each project is conceived as a chapter, linking global perspectives, and blending science, art, literature, and mechanics to craft four succinct and delicately poignant polyglot experiences. The first exhibition, entitled “An Atlas of Us,” focuses on the work of Singaporean artist Dawn Ng, whose work resonates with geographical considerations and topographical readings of deep time. The show is accompanied by an intimate choral performance piece by Welsh composer Alex Mills, in close collaboration with Ng and inspired by her film work. Five singers—Elizaveta Kozlova, soprano; Elisa Sutherland, alto; Timothy Parsons, countertenor; Garrett Eucker, tenor; and Jeffrey Gavett, baritone—undergo a musical meditation, where each moves through the music to the rhythm of their own breath. Mirroring the cascading pigments in Ng’s work, musical structures slowly build and disintegrate, evolve and transform, melt and evaporate.

“Dawn Ng’s practice speaks to creation and change, existence and passing, how from earth to our own selves there is an evolution, one that is marked by our feeling and reading of time.” – Jenn Ellis

Beginning our journey exploring evolutionary change is the work of leading Singaporean artist Dawn Ng at Frieze New York. Investigating time and its emotive associations, she uses ice – the most ephemeral material available to her in her native Singapore, and a key medium in the Lac de Joux’s history – to express time’s shifts and articulations through colour, shape and form.

Over a multi-week period, 60 kilogram blocks of ice are assiduously built by Ng in her studio – one layer after another – evolving into a near-geological confluence of pigments, watercolours, acrylics, dyes. Stratified, these blocks speak to the topography of our planet, where time is read through age-old formations, its gravitational pushes and pulls, an element that is also a key consideration in the history of watchmaking.

Presenting a video, series of photographs, lightbox and painting, the project at Frieze New York explores the cyclicality of these blocks; their own evolutionary change, which is something that speaks to the displayed Breguet timepieces but we also collectively share. The film captures a block melting – an 18 hour period sped up and adjusted to a near 20 mins – the cascades recalling geological shifts as well as time’s elasticity; how it speeds up at moments of enjoyment or slows down at times of langour.

The photographs, part of Ng’s ‘Clock’ series, each capture a particular moment, while the lightbox is derived from each block’s origin instant, or 00:00. Finally, the painting, part of Ng’s ‘Ash’ series, are the last breath of each block. At the end of their melting, the swirl of pigments are collected, and through a process of formation and evaporation, the paintings are created, revealing a surface layer as well as a ‘beneath’.

Ultimately, Ng’s practice speaks to creation and change, existence and passing, how from earth to our own selves there is an evolution, one that is marked by our feeling and reading of time.

Text: Jenn Ellis

Jenn Ellis and Dawn’s Ng reflections on Frieze New York x Breguet

‘What if we described time as a colour, shape and form, through the lens of emotion rather than strict numerical terms?.’ Dawn Ng

Dawn Ng photographed by Michelle Yap

As a curator, I’m driven by how art can be one of the most empathetic yet critical mediums to communicate about topics. I’m excited, through the collaboration with Breguet, to explore this conversation through the lens of science, innovation, heritage and craft – unpack stories from the depths of time to the present. 

I’m excited through my collaboration with Breguet to explore evolutionary change, to think of time as something that straddles the worlds of science, emotion, our outer and inner worlds. Unfolding as a series of four chapters with a twin emphasis on global artistic dialogue and context appreciation, we will be unveiling projects with four artists, one at each of Frieze’s locations, connecting different parts of the globe: Singapore to New York, France to Seoul, Yirrkala to LA. – Jenn Ellis

In my work I explore time through the ultimate ephemeral material that is ice. Pervading my work is a question: what if we described time as a colour, shape and form, through the lens of emotion rather than strict numerical terms? Living and growing up in Singapore, we don’t have seasons, and memory is held in a different way; buildings come and go, our country itself is a relatively young one.

Collaborating with Breguet, that is vested in not only time but the notions of heritage, is one that is interesting and makes me think of what predates us, in particular land, topography, geological formations. I’m excited, through my presentation curated by serial collaborator Jenn Ellis, to unpack thoughts around what makes us us, how time can be reflected by the surfaces we stand on, but also how it comes and goes and evolves in a cyclical manner. – Dawn Ng

Dawn Ng is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, who has worked across a breadth of mediums, motifs, and scales, including sculpture, photography, light, film, collage, painting, and large-scale installations. Her practice deals with time, memory, and the ephemeral. Often characterized by lyricism and a nuanced use of colour, her work has been acquired by the Singapore Art Museum and exhibited at the Musee d’art contemporain de Lyon, the Jeju Biennale (2017), and the Lille3000 art festival, France. She has had solos in Art Basel Hong Kong and the Art Paris Art Fair, and has shown in London, Sydney, Seoul, Shanghai, and Jakarta. Ng has been commissioned by the Hermès Foundation (2016), the ArtScience Museum (2019), Asian Civilisations Museum (2020), National Gallery Singapore (2023), and the UBS Art Collection (2023), and most recently opened her first solo at Kate MacGarry London (2023)