Sarah Choo Jing | MAFF Artist Spotlight

Singapore native, Sarah Choo Jing, creates characters out of solitary individuals within Singapore’s fast-paced and ever evolving urban landscape. Shot by Linda Wu Song "Pettles" by Frook




Emma Talbot: Telling the Stories of Our Times

“My work is really about a very personal experience of being alive at this period of time.” We visited Emma Talbot in her studio in London, to talk about how she transforms the intangible realms of thought and emotion into tangible expressions on silk canvases. As she introduces herself in the opening moments of our conversation, Talbot articulates her artistic project as an exploration of stories that echo the zeitgeist. Touching on big contemporary issues, such as societal structures, and our relationships with technology, ecology and nature, Talbot describes her art as an interrogation of the human condition: “the brevity and fragility of life itself; what is given value and worth, what is memorialised, and the inevitable experiences of love and grief.” Talbot's artistic repertoire spans from paintings on silk to animations and drawings. The latter always works as her starting point: “I developed a practice in which I start withdrawing, and I let myself draw whatever comes to mind without really trying to direct the subject of the drawings or what they're exploring so that I can see what it is I'm thinking.” Yet, it's only after a phase of deep research - online, through reading, or by seeking diverse forms of knowledge - that she refines and enriches these raw expressions into motives and narratives. In her winning proposal for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, Talbot took as a starting point her fascination with Gustav Klimt’s painting Three Ages of Woman (1905), which features a naked elderly woman standing in apparent shame. In her mind, the woman looked like a future version of Talbot herself, and so the figure became an avatar to tackle some of the contemporary issues that Talbot addresses in her practice. Talbot's pivot to using silk as a canvas reflects a profound quest for artistic freedom. Influenced by writers like Hélène Cixous, who explored finding one's own voice in writing, Talbot sought an equivalent liberation in her visual language. The ethereal qualities of silk offered the flexibility she craved - something drapable, cuttable, and wearable - a material that could carry the weight of ideas without becoming burdened by historical constraints. Her intricate process of painting on silk involves a delicate balance, where fluidity meets substance, allowing her to control the marks on the surface while embracing the material's inherent delicacy. The resulting large-scale paintings, described by Talbot as "collages of ideas," become immersive experiences, inviting viewers into a dialogue with the intricate narratives within. Emma Talbot (b.1969) studied at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design and Royal College of Art. Her work was showcased at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia as part of the exhibition ’Milk of Dreams.’ In 2022, she was awarded the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which cumulated in the exhibition The Age / L’Età shown in Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia and Whitechapel Gallery in London. Talbot's exhibition history includes solo shows such as “The Human Experience” (2023) at Kunshtall Stavanger ’In the End, the Beginning’ (2023) at Kesselhaus, KINDL, Berlin, "When Screens Break" at Eastside Projects in Birmingham (2020), ’Ghost Calls’ at DCA in Dundee (2020), and ’Sounders of The Depths’ at GEM Kunstmuseum in The Hague, Netherlands (2019-20). Noteworthy exhibitions also include ’Woman-Snake-Bird’ at Galerie Onrust in Amsterdam (2018) and ’The World Blown Apart’ at the same gallery in 2017. Her recent work ‘Seeds Grow in Fertile Ground (Every Thought is an Opening)’ (2023) was featured in the group exhibition ‘Irreplaceable Human? The Conditions of Creativity in the Age of AI’ at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Her work has found a home in collections worldwide, including Guerlain in Paris, British Council Collection, Arts Council Collection, City of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, David Roberts Collection, Saatchi Collection, University of the Arts London, Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth, Fries Museum NL, and Arnhem Museum NL. Emma Talbot was interviewed by Nanna Rebekka in her studio in London in April 2023. Camera: Alex Newton Edited and produced by: Nanna Rebekka




Adriana Varejão: In the Studio

Adriana Varejão is a Brazilian artist. She works in various disciplines including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation and photography. She was an artist-in-resident at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2004. Varejão lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.




Masako Miki

Dive into the making of Masako Miki's magical installation, which is inspired by Shinto beliefs and the shape-shifting beings of Japanese folklore.




Is Gaetano Pesce the Most Interesting Designer in the World?

"If I talk too much, I risk to repeat." Italian architect Gaetano Pesce's works of art fill the halls and walls of museums all over the world, but how has he remained so elusive, separating designer from the design? In 1968, he designed Foot "UP7" and began to carve out an artistic style uniquely his own. Now, at 82-years-old, Pesce speaks to his career, craft, and begs the question, is he the most interesting designer in the world?




Stella McCartney Is Changing Fashion From Within

Stella McCartney has spent her career trying to show the world that ethical choices don’t have to mean compromising on glamour. Since the launch of her namesake label in 2001, she has created luxury clothing that celebrates modern femininity—her brand is a closet staple for countless celebrities—while eschewing leather, feathers, and fur.




Issy Wood

Artist Issy Wood stands as a formidable creative force, wielding a trifecta of painting, music, and writing to powerful effect. In this episode of ‘Meet the artists,’ we’re offered a glimpse of her prolific output in her East London studio, which is lined with works in various states of completion. ‘I make maybe three or four paintings at a time,’ she says, ‘So when one isn’t abiding by my rules, I can seek refuge in the other.’ Often framed as extreme close-ups, the imagery is visceral and intellectual, tender and eerie. During the visit to both her painting and home music studios, we delve into the threads that tie her practices together, including power, identity, and relationships. However, as Wood observes, ‘If I had to find one overarching theme, it would probably be how terrifying desire is.' Issy Wood is represented by Carlos/Ishikawa (London) and Michael Werner Gallery (New York, Berlin, London). Her exhibition, 'Study For No' at Lafayette Anticipations runs from October 18–January 7, 2023.




Pantera | MAFF Tour Colombia (Episode 1)

In this season of MAFF Tour, our travels take us to Bogotá, Colombia to catch up with a few incredibly talented creatives who give us a glimpse into their practice and culture. We catch up with Pantera, an afrobody dancer, DJ and icon of the Colombian ballroom scene.




Wanuri Kahiu's fight to bring Rafiki home

The latest from Wanuri Kahiu charts a precarious love story between two young Kenyan women in a society where homosexuality is banned. "Fun, fierce, and frivolous African art." This is how director Wanuri Kahiu defines Afrobubblegum, her vision for the future of filmmaking on the African continent. Her latest feature, which showed at Cannes, embodies this ethos perfectly. A love story between two young women (played by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) in a society that still bans homosexuality, Rafiki is saturated with joy, heartbreak, and a richly effervescent cinematography that showcases Kahiu's native Nairobi in all its vibrancy. When Kena and Ziki first lock eyes, it's a genuine coup de foudre despite the fact their families are political rivals. The young women grow close, but as they are not able to show their attraction in public — or even to their relatives and friends — they are forced to sneak small moments in private. Together they create their own world, vividly evoked through Kahiu's filmic eye, where their love isn't anything other than an expression of their commitment to each other. The space they create, however, isn't immune to the biases of the outside world. Co-written with Jenna Bass (at TIFF last year with High Fantasy) and inspired by Monica Arac de Nyeko's story Jambula Tree, Rafiki is a celebration of love.




Shekinah Imani




Sofia Coppola Shares Her Rich Film Archival

The Priscilla director on her friendship with Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette backlash and the influence of fashion on her films.

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Zhang An 张安 | MAFF Tour Shanghai (Episode 1)

Our travels take us to Shanghai, China, where we catch up with photographer, Zhang An 张安. Zhang An is a prodigious photographer living in the world of the abstract. DIT:AJ Runner 场务:Liu 小刘 Camera Assistant:Lijia Xu 徐立加 Tenghui Ma马鹏辉 Zhengjun Li李振军 Lingjie Yi尹凌杰 Yikun Cao曹亚坤 Equipment 器材:Chuanye Rental 川页租赁

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Firelei Báez: I Consider Myself a Filter


"My work is built for human senses." Dominican-American artist Firelei Báez shares a closer look into her artworks and practice. Through vibrant colours and repurposed found maps, Báez explores themes of memory and history with references to her Caribbean origin. "I think the best thing is to just consider myself a filter." Firelei Báez has been fascinated with art since early childhood when observing her older sister's – in Báez's own words – "masterful" drawing skills: "I have been stuck since that point with art. And it's just this thing that… It makes me feel alive. And it's been a point of refuge since I was a very young child." Not only was it the skills themselves that interested her, but she was also intrigued by her heritage and history: "I was interested in how my individual story tied to the rest of the world," she says and continues: "I would be creating in a way that would connect me to my family." A reoccurring figure in the oeuvre of Firelei Báez is the folkloric, mythical "ciguapa". It's a creature from the same place in the Caribbean that Báez is from. It's described best as a female trickster. "There are two constants about her. One is that her feet are backwards," Báez explains: "And that she has a long, lustrous mane of hair." Although there was often a negative connotation to the ciguapa, Báez also saw certain freedom in her, as the ciguapa is almost traceless: "If you follow her footsteps, you are going in the wrong direction," she says and asks: "What are the risks and what are the gains of belonging or not belonging?" Many of Firelei Báez's works are painted on old, found pages. It can be from books or maps thrown out for various reasons. There is a particular vandalism to the act of painting on top of, for example, a blueprint of the Lee Monument. But Báez gives the violence an undeniable beauty with vibrant colours and depictions of shiny, black hair or juicy-looking fruits. "I think if I just gave violence, it's very easy to just look away," she says. "That is our biggest power at the moment. Who do we give our attention to?" she asks and continues: "I'm fully capable of making a juicy, beautiful painting that is just all pleasure. And that's good. But that only sustains for a short period of time. I'm interested in giving something that is generous enough to make it linger in your mind afterwards." When talking about the quality of an artwork, Báez shares the following thoughts: "A dead painting, for me, is one that leaves you uncurious. And that doesn't draw you or doesn't stay with you when you leave its presence," Firelei Báez reflects. "One that is active and effective is one that either bothers you enough to think about it some more. Or that excites you into thinking something new. That's where the maker has left a part of themselves that is still enacting." Firelei Báez (b. 1981) is a Dominican-American artist who lives and works in New York. In her monumental paintings and installations, she creates images bursting with colours and symbols based on her Caribbean heritage, featuring folktales, colonial occupation, revolution and divided societies. Báez received an M.F.A. from Hunter College, a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union's School of Art, and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work has been presented in significant international exhibitions, including the inaugural installation at the ICA Watershed, Boston (2021), and the Milk of Dreams at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022). Recent solo presentations of Báez's work include exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; and Pérez Art Museum Miami. Báez's work is held in many public collections: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo; Pérez Art Museum Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Luanda, Angola; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.



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