SIFA 2016

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THE KULA RING Aesthetic Considerations Of Sharing And Exchange

Curated by Alfons Hug

  • Various Timings
  • 72-13
  • Free
backBack to Archives

THE KULA RING Aesthetic Considerations Of Sharing And Exchange

Curated by Alfons Hug

"The social function of this complex, non-profit exchange is that it strengthens the social ties… Relations are free of domination… Kula therefore has a community-generating meaning. The flow of gifts never ends; the ring has no beginning and no end." 

Alfons Hug, curator

In English.


This art event, initiated by the Goethe-Institut Singapore and curated by Alfons Hug, opened at the Kultursymposium Weimar 2016. It premieres in Asia at the Singapore International Festival of Arts, with an added performative component in collaboration with Festival Director Ong Keng Sen.

The Kula Ring art exhibition is based on a ritual exchange of gifts among inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea. These Melanesian islands form a circle. Today, necklaces made of little red shells, soulava, still circulate clockwise from island to island. Mwali (white seashell armbands) are exchanged in the other direction, that is, counterclockwise. These artistic objects are highly valuable but not for sale. This ancient cultural practice called ‘kula’ is being taken up by artists from around the world and given a visual, tactile dimension through aesthetic means of expression. Their works question conventional ideas of trade, value, exchange, profit and put the meaning of creative production, the sale of art, up for discussion. They have produced artworks of many forms: performances, found items, swopped objects, photographs, exotic spices and culinary delights.

Most of all, The Kula Ring is a space of imagination where the unknown is filled in, invented and created. The exhibition-performance offers insights into the sharing game and reciprocity – how is this played out today by individual artists from diverse parts of the world? What are the potentialities embedded in the gifts/objects and the actions/exchanges of The Kula Ring ? Can we rethink circulation and currency without the commerce and profit propagated by our supposedly rational economic system?

Recipe Sharing Cook-In by Roslisham Ismail
28 August, 12pm - 5pm
Venue: To be confirmed
[Free admission, registration required]

One of the artists in this exhibition, Roslisham Ismail, will be hosting a cook-in session as an extension of his artwork in The Kula Ring. No prior cooking skills are required; just bring yourself and be willing to cook together. 

Register via email with the subject "Recipe Sharing Cook-in" to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the following:

  • Name
  • Contact number
  • Email address
  • Dietary restrictions (if any)

Activating the Archive
Venue: Exhibition space at 72-13
[Free admission]

Come activate the Archive of Future Commons by Post-Museum with us as actors read out selected texts from its books.

Dates and timings:

17 August - 7:00pm to 10:00pm
18, 19, 20 August - 6:30pm 
26, 27 August - 7:30pm 
1, 2, 3 September - 7:30pm & 9:00pm
4 September - 1:30pm, 2:30pm & 9:00pm

Return to Nature by Reynier Leyva Novo
20 August, 11pm
Venue: Exhibition space at 72-13 and Singapore River Bank

[Free admission]

Join artist Reynier Leyva Novo in a meditative performance that combines local earth, thoughts of the departed, and returning to nature. The piece will start in the gallery space and end poetically along the Singapore River nearby.

Reading Group
27 August, Saturday 3pm — 5pm
Venue: Exhibition space at 72-13

Led by Dr Jun Zubillaga-Pow, a Singaporean cultural historian and musicologist specialising in Germanic and Southeast Asian cultures of the twentieth century.

Register to participate at:

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