Get A Peek Into Clare Chong’s Eccentric Mind | Artist Spotlight
Clare Chong is a filmmaker from Singapore, and she loves telling people about her dreams. “I dream almost every night, sometimes they’re purely fantastical, but a lot of the times they are also real situations that happen much later on in my life, deja vu if you must,” she explains. She adds that that could be the reason why she’s drawn to film, an extremely audiovisual medium. “They allow me to express these dreams and fantasies that I have swirling in my head all the time.”
How did you get started in art?
My mother teaches piano, so since young I grew up in an environment where music is all around me. My mom also made me learn piano, violin, ballet, contemporary dance since the age of four, and I later delved into singing classical music as well. I have never imagined a different life where I will be doing anything else, other than the arts.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Most of my inspiration comes from my dreams. They’re just so weird all the time, and I often wake up crying. I have an intense fear of worms, and so most of my nightmares revolve around that one visual, morphed into many different forms. These images frighten and excite me, and that in turn, inspires my work.
What goes into creating your artwork?
It depends on the nature of the work. When it is something narrative, it is always a personal story, an emotion I am trying to express, a situation I am unhappy about, or want to challenge and question. When it comes to my experimental and video art works, I am always trying to create a world, an entry point into my dreams, to show the world the little fantastical universes that are happening in my head.
I never ever create a piece of work by strategy. I have tried, multiple times, but I will never be happy with it being formed so mechanically. What works for me is to let ideas stew, for years and years in my head, before I even write a thing down. When I write something, it is in one sitting, and it will not change from that one sitting, and that has always been how it is.
Describe your artistic aesthetic.
I’m very drawn to specific materials – acrylic paint, plastic, aluminium, cling wrap. There is something very suffocating about these materials, that always motivates me to ‘get out’ of the material, to reveal what is underneath it. I think a lot of these materials create the worlds of my films and photos, so they’re often very colourful, plasticy, metallic.
What’s the biggest difference between filmmaking and photography? What do you want people to take from your art?
Of course, the no brainer answer is that film moves, and a photograph is still. I am not a filmmaker, nor am I a photographer, I just make images, whether they move or not. Of course, these two different mediums tell extremely different stories and are completely different mediums of expressions, but anyone reading this interview can read books to find out more about that, whether technically, spiritually, or philosophically.
To me however, film is magic. I can do anything I want with it, I can be whoever I want, and I can tell every story I can think of with film. It is so addictive, it is a drug that I cannot ever stop using. All art speaks one universal truth. It is a way to reflect, to find out about yourself, to reveal yourself to you. All great art does it, it reveals a truth, to you, and only you. I just hope that my art can one day do that for an individual, whatever truth that may be.
Is there something/an idea that you’ve always wanted to make but haven’t yet? Is there a common theme in all your art?
Oh yes, plenty. I really want to make a feature film one day, that has always been something I’ve been very eager to work towards, and I still am working towards it. I am also really hoping to one day, be able to have my own exhibition, but that might be many years later, ofcourse. I’m not the kind of person that strives and aims for a particular idea, or a common theme, because I believe if it is meant to be, it will happen.
Do you have a favourite piece you’ve done so far?
My favourite piece of work is Toogie’s Trip to Bukuokuka, which was a film I made from a project where I collected my friends’ dreams. I transcribed these dreams, and then wrote a script. I wrote it in one sitting, didn’t edit it, and just shot it. It was also a very painful film to make because I was 18 years old then, trying to make a surrealist, completely fantastical film in Singapore, and I worked odd jobs to save money to make this film. I also made so many great friends through the journey, so it was really what solidified my career in filmmaking.
What are your views on the art community?
Most of my friends are in the arts, and I would say it is a thriving community. It can always be better, maybe more integrated, supportive, and the list goes on. But for now, for me, I am happy with where we are at, and I’m so glad to be able to be part of the conversation.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as an artist? What do you think is the most is the most difficult thing artists go through?
My biggest challenge is to come up with great stories to tell. To tell myself stop doubting, just do it. Sometimes, that is very hard when the stakes gets bigger and bigger.
Art is important because…?
How do you breathe with no art?
What are your views of women in art? Are there enough and well represented?
There are plenty of female artists, and I don’t see (and maybe I do not want to see) any biasness that people often speak of. To me there is no reason to do so, and it is almost funny to me that this is still a question, because I think the world we live in right now, shouldn’t even have a need for this question. The fact that there is still this question though, is rather sad to me.