Far back in January 2021, I received an invitation from Ambre Singh to visit her gallery spaces located overhead at Noir’WEN City – and I offer my apologies to her for only now getting around to doing so.
A Second Life resident for getting towards 14 years, Ambre is an artist who uses photography, art, a sense of humour and generally provocative in the manner it prods the grey matter between the ears to start churning thoughts.
Thematically, much of her work might be considered Adult, with images not suitable for the work environment; it mixes direct Second Life photography – notably her avatar, the characters she creates and her friends – with mixed media pieces that combine physical world at and images with elements created within Second Life mixed with classical works both to tell her own stories and / or in celebration of their original artists.
Her gallery space at Noir’WEN offer two wings set within a warehouse environment, one of which is devoted to a permanent exhibition entitled The Pink Dildo, and the other offers a broader mix of Ambre’s work, including the opportunity to rez past exhibitions – a novel idea I’ve admittedly never come across before.
The Pink Dildo (you can take it from the title this is an exhibit that can be labelled NSFW!) is a clever, humour-filled but ultimately thought-provoking view “of the role of women in the development of human societies”. Within it, Ambre presents a collection of images that combine original in-world art with clever re-workings of classical pieces of art to take us on a journey from pre-history through to modern times, each piece generally including a pink dildo in some fashion, together with a short descriptive text offered in English and French.
While it might be easy to dismiss these pieces as a means of simple titillation, to do so would be to miss the point. Whilst the entire exhibition includes adult themes wrapped in humour (just read the artist’s biography placed within the exhibit for evidence of the latter), there is a subtext within The Pink Dildo that might best be described as commentary on the (largely patriarchal) recording of history, whilst also offering personal views on modern society (notably on the upper floor of the hall), not all of which we may ascribe to or agree with, but which nevertheless give good pause for thought.
What is particularly – for me – engaging about this exhibition is the manner in which Ambre has taken classic pieces of art by Rembrandt, Poynter, da Vinci, Bouguereau, Jacques-Louis David, JW Waterhouse, Litovchenko and others and re-interpreted them as a part of her story. I also appreciate the topping and tailing of this exhibit through the use of a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey at the start, and a sideways reference to Musk & SpaceX and their plans to colonise Mars.
The interjection of her avatar into classical works of art can also be found in the second wing of Ambre’s gallery, although with art that is more nude in tone and adult in theme, so again should be considered NSFW. Here, within the upper floor rezzer area, one can appreciate her take on pieces by JW Waterhouse, Boucher, Courbet, Draper and more, as well as collections of her avatar portraiture work, a neat little musical quiz challenging people to match the images with the song titles and more.
Engaging, rich in content, story and sub-text, Ambre Singh’s art is well worth visiting – and extended to a current exhibition in Noir’WENs ground-level gallery as well – something I’ll be returning to in the future.
- Ambre Singh Gallery (Noir WEN, rated Adult)