The work was made after the artist's travel to Yinchuan, Ningxia, northwest China, where a new international arts centre is being developed near the historic Silk Road. Though situated in proximity to the dry desert plains of Inner Mongolia, Yinchuan is well-irrigated by the Yellow River that runs through it. The latter changed its course frequently and in the process created lakes and wetlands across the city; the arts centre is situated beside such a lake. The Yellow River's strong currents carry and leave behind geological deposits along its banks, its flow interacting with the geographical condition along its path. In situ at Yinchuan, the Southeast Asian artist of Chinese ethnicity reflected on the confluence of historical and cultural origins.
Back at his studio in Singapore, the artist handled stones sourced from the Yellow River, Ningxia and Fort Canning Hill, Singapore - both sites linked to stories of origin and the beginning of civilisation/settlement in its surroundings. Touching, ink-washing, placing, outlining and removing the stones repeatedly, the artist entered into a process that involved the aleatoric and the intentional to make the work. An important part of the process was resting the inked stones onto the paper, and letting time wash over them.
There are 99 original compositions in this series of work. Each is a (unique) repetition of the artist making a connection between Yinchuan and Singapore, his contemplation of their origins and the many lines of history between them.
2012. Acrylic, graphite and stone deposits on paper print: 38 x 28cm each, series of 99.
Commissioned by the Yellow River Arts Centre.
2012 Sungai, Sejarah, 河流, 历史, 源, YRAC S-base, Gillman Barracks, Singapore (solo exhibition)
2015 Jee Leong Koh. Cover image: “Sungai, Sejarah (Kesembilan puluh Sembilan)” (2012). Steep tea. Carcanet Press. Jun 2015. Print.
2013 Jee Leong Koh. 'Featured Image: "Sungai, Sejarah" (2012)'. Singapore Poetry. 29 Oct 2013. Web.
2012 Justin Long, Yoichi Nakamuta and Stephanie Peh. Creative Cultures: The Singapore Showcase, Underscore, 2012. Print.