The Shape of the Sky (5/12 SOLO)

James Jack



The Shape of the Sky is a solo exhibition by James Jack, an American Asian artist of Gaelic Islander descent who engages layered histories tied to place as a way to concentrate on instances of positive change achieved through community-led initiatives.

The Shape of the Sky creates a collective space for sharing stories of past traditions alongside contemporary enquires of how we can navigate with the sea as a centre. Islanders’ oral histories focus on the abundance of natural resources, methods of a sharing economy and wisdom obtained from ancestral knowledge. Published lies have damaged islands with extractive colonial desire the remnants of which continue today. One such lie appeared in the Straits Times Overland Journal in 1881 stating that King Kalākaua was selling the Hawaiian kingdom to Germany while circumnavigating the globe. Simultaneous to these lies were positive examples of friendship, meals shared between diverse people, gift exchanges and special ceremonies held with local counterparts while circumnavigating the globe. Navigation is one tool for subverting colonial methods of extractive knowledge with indigenous methods of wayfaring both at sea and on land. These resilient threads are being woven from past to present making connections that steer towards a bright future vision.

This exhibit is one point on a net of open conversations between diverse members on the links between sea and land in Singapore/Johor and Hawai‘i found through sharing of culture. Creative methods for survivance amidst impositions both past and present on economies of sharing will be practised in the space itself along with concurrent programming, which includes a shared meal, a talk and a workshop with youth today. Methods of resilience will be shared by community members who cherish the value, knowledge and resources on their island. Visions for islands’ sovereign futures are based on deep respect for the voices of the plants, dirt, ancestors and water in each place. Open conversations will emerge here even with restrictions on national borders and physical gatherings with the aim to link people working for change now.

5th Sept:  3-4pm online Kelab Alami Community Workshop The Taste of Tanjung Kupang Storytelling through heritage cuisine as intercultural sharing in multiple presents. Live on Comma Space facebook

12th Sept: 3/4 pm Artist talk (limited to 4 people per slot, booking via link)

19th Sept: Wayfaring Talk Story  Live on Comma Space Facebook 

Speakers: Mina Elison (Curator, Donkey Mill Art Center, Island of Hawai’i) and Celeste Beh, (History Graduate, Yale-NUS College)
Moderated by: James Jack (Artist)

This talk story session will explore wayfaring as a practice of navigating out of lies told about our people, land and stories and into the depth of abundance. We will draw upon Malayo-Polynesian encounters from the 19th century, contemporary revival of indigenous voyaging knowledge and the power of creative links between islanders occurring today. Relearning the shapes of the sky together we will weave a net that may carry us towards the positive futures we want to see.

26th Sept: 4 pm Conversation with Dr. Karin Oen video release view

The Shape of the Sky is the fifth project of the exhibition series, “12 Solo” of Comma Space 逗号空间.

Artist: James Jack is an artist who has developed socially engaged art works for exhibitions including Honolulu Museum of Art, Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Setouchi International Art Festival, Busan Biennale Sea Art Festival, Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore, Echigo-Tsumari Triennial, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art and Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at TMT Art Projects (Fukuoka), TAMA Gallery (New York), Beppu-Wiarda Gallery (Portland), Satoshi Koyama Gallery (Tokyo) and the Portland Art Center. His writings have been published in Shima, ArtAsiaPacific, The Japan Times, Modern Art Asia and catalogues published by Blum & Poe Gallery, LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore, Satoshi Koyama Gallery and The Contemporary Museum of Hawai‘i. His works are currently on display on the Island of Hawai‘i in the exhibit “Inundation: Art and Climate Change” through October 11th and he is a virtual artist in residence at the Donkey Mill Art Center in Hōlualoa where he is currently engaging with community on the Island of Hawai‘i. Upcoming exhibitions with his work include the Fujinoyama Biennale opening in October 2020 and Oku Noto Triennial postponed to September 2021. For more info on the artist visit

Curator: Dr. Wang Ruobing is an artist and curator who currently teaches at the LASALLE College of the Arts.

“12 Solo”: 12 Solo is an inaugural curatorial series for the newly established independent art space, Comma Space 逗号空间. Conceived by artist-curator Dr. Wang Ruobing, “12 Solo” launches 12 exhibitions by 12 artists. Each artist creates a single work and presents it as a solo show.