Dawn Ng’s Ice-Inspired Works Take Over Breguet’s Frieze New York Lounge

Organized by curator Jenn Ellis, the show kicks off a yearlong collaboration across all four Frieze venues.

Dawn Ng, Waterfal VIII (2023).

Breguet returns to Frieze New York this week, where the luxe watchmaker’s lounge features “An Atlas of Us,” an exhibition by Singapore-based conceptual artist Dawn Ng that inaugurates a yearlong collaboration between Breguet and the London-based curator Jenn Ellis. The APSARA studio founder will cue up all the art for Breguet’s lounges at Frieze Seoul, London, and Los Angeles over the year ahead. To kick it all off, five vocalists will convene on Thursday for a choral performance to complement Ng’s work.

A photograph of a women wearing a taupe wrap dress posing for a portrait before a towering block of ice in stratified neutral hues

Dawn Ng. Photo: Michelle Yap

Like Somi Sim, Breguet’s previous curator-in-residence, Ellis started by touring Breguet’s manufacturing facilities in Vallée de Joux as well as its archives in Paris. “My work is particularly interdisciplinary,” Ellis said, “and thinks a lot about music, science, these different touch points for everyday life.” She was struck by the watchmakers’ devotion to both tradition and innovation.

“It all came together when I saw how every single component of the watch is individually made,” Ellis continued. Her four-part program for Breguet will present distinct, sequential voices to tell a whole story. “An Atlas of Us” will highlight humanity’s geological origins, while later Frieze showcases will focus on our relationship with technology, the wider context of the cosmos, and interpersonal evolution.

onlookers mill about an art installation

An installation view of “An Atlas of Us” at yesterday’s VIP preview of Frieze New York. Courtesy of Breguet.

Ellis curated the first London solo show by Ng, who has worked with Hermes and Uniqlo, at an historic church in Marylebone last year. “Atlas of Us” will continue highlighting Ng’s efforts with the medium of ice. In the studio, she freezes “near geological” 130-pound blocks from water, pigment, acrylics, and dyes. Then she documents those blocks as they melt to generate source material for films, photographs, and even paintings, made by laying watercolor paper over the melted blocks’ puddles.

An image of a vertically-oriented lavendar-tinged ice block with four dark splotches within it

Dawn Ng, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (2023).

Four works will feature within the curved walls Ellis has envisioned for Breguet’s lounge alongside stunning timepieces and demonstrations of guilloché, a type of fine engraving that often adorns watches. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (2022) will open the show, featuring a photograph of a block the moment it was taken out of the freezer. A manipulated film of another block melting will follow, alongside one of Ng’s paintings, and a photograph titled Love is Old, Love is New, Love is All, Love is You (2022) of another block mid-melt (and, like Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds, a reference to a Beatles lyric). Sometimes collectors of her work try to amass the full range of works made from one block, but each example featured here hails from a different specimen.

a Oman in a black dress sits atop a chair in front of an art installation by watch brand Breguet

The curator Jenn Ellis in front of “An Atlas of Us.” Courtesy of Breguet.

“Pervading my work is the question of, What if we described time as a color, shape and form, through the lens of emotions, rather than strict numerical terms?” Ng has remarked. “I am excited to unpack thoughts around what makes us ‘us,’ how time can be reflected by the surfaces we stand on, but also how it comes, goes, and evolves in a cyclical manner.”

Even the ephemeral ice’s surface evokes how geological topographies offer an historic record. “Nowadays, people will go and extract ice in order to read deep time,” Ellis pointed out.

“An Atlas of Us” is Ng’s first New York show. Ellis suggests that her ensuing chapters will also spotlight artists on the cusp of breaking onto the main Frieze floor.

An image of a photographed ice block with multiple colors to it, including yellow-green, burnt orange, and splotches of black

Dawn Ng, Love is Old, Love is New, Love is All, Love is You (2022).


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