Bold and Beautiful – let’s Harp on it

21 08 2014

Bold and Beautiful – in line with its theme for this year, the ever so magical Singapore Night Festival, is back! This year’s festival, on for two Fridays and Saturdays on 22 and 23 August and 29 and 30 August 2014 across the arts and cultural Bras Basah. Bugis Precinct, sees it being organised around five key zones, that will include for the first time, a Festival Village at Cathay Green – which will not be short of delectable offerings, entertainment and shopping opportunities. Two venues will also feature for the first time at the Night Festival, with the historic Armenian Church seeing two Night Lights installations and the National Design Centre (the former St. Anthony’s Convent), which will see a mini interactive exhibition with a ceiling of white illuminated helium filled balloons as well as two light installations.

The Singapore Night Festival is back - bolder and more beautiful.

The Singapore Night Festival is back – bolder and more beautiful – and sure to pull-in the crowds.

The highlight of this year's Singapore Night Festival has to be The Earth Harp at the National Museum's front lawn.

The highlight of this year’s Singapore Night Festival has to be The Earth Harp at the National Museum’s front lawn.

The highlight of the festival has to be the William Close performing on his Earth Harp at the National Museum’s front lawn – one of several spectacular performances being lined up for the Pretty Arty festival zone based at the museum. The Earth Harp Close creates for the Night Festival, sees the huge harp strung across to the National Museum’s façade – the use of architecture as part of his harp, is inspired by a quote “architecture is frozen music” from Frank Lloyd Wright. Close, who was a second runner-up in the seventh season of America’s Got Talent, will collaborate with several local and international  artists such as Singapore’s drum group ZingO and songstresses in the form of Sound of Sirens as well as the fire and lights of Austrian collective Phoenix over both festival weekends.

Willaim Close and his Earth Harp.

Willaim Close and his Earth Harp.

Close close-up.

Close close-up.

ZingO - a local drum group, who are collaborating with William Close.

ZingO – a local drum group, who are collaborating with William Close.

Pretty Arty also sees half human / half birds of Follies for É Birds by the Arts Fission Company in the former Fashion Gallery.

Pretty Arty also sees half human / half birds of Follies for É Birds by the Arts Fission Company in the former Fashion Gallery.

The festival sees the return of Singapore’s very own Starlight Alchemy, playing not so much with fire this time, but with light and acrobatics beside the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Information Systems in a zone intended to reach out to Young Hearts around SMU Green. The acts will include AcroYogis – an acrobatic partner yoga presentation in which the audience can participate in, as well as Illuminated Playtime in which participants will be invited to play with LED lights.

AcroYogis by Starlight Alchemy.

AcroYogis by Starlight Alchemy.

Another look at AcroYogis by Starlight Alchemy.

Another look at AcroYogis by Starlight Alchemy.

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Watch 10 local DJs spin together on Stage at the SMU Green in the Young Hearts Zone.

Watch 10 local DJs spin together on Stage at the SMU Green in the Young Hearts Zone.

The 10 DJs on stage.

The 10 DJs on stage.

Always a crowd-pleaser, Night Lights, will also return – this time doubling in scale – with installations spread across the festival’s zones. Night Lights never spares the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), a building I always enjoy seeing bathed in light – like outstretched arms its wings are always welcoming as it had been when I went to school there all those years ago. This year the façade of the SAM will be see a nature inspired multi-media presentation, Spirits of Nature, by WeComeInPeace from France.

Spirits of Nature by WeComeInPeace.

Spirits of Nature by WeComeInPeace.

The two Frenchmen coming in Peace.

The two Frenchmen coming in Peace.

One of the students behind Singapore University of Technology and Design's Night Lights installation at SMU, Stop and Smell the Flowers ...

One of the students behind Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Night Lights installation at SMU, Stop and Smell the Flowers …

... the installation requires one to pause - only by pausing to take a long exposure photograph, can the artwork be appreciated.

… the installation requires one to pause – only by pausing to take a long exposure photograph, can the artwork be appreciated.

Greenhouse Effect - another Night Lights installation by Maro Avrabou and Dimitiri Xenakis from France.

Greenhouse Effect – another Night Lights installation by Maro Avrabou and Dimitiri Xenakis from France.

Other eye-catching Night Lights installations I got to see a preview of include Cyanea, inspired by the Cyanea capillata – one of the largest jellyfish in the world, spread across Cathay Green. The installation, illuminated by a set of colour-changing lights, with smoke and sounds for effect, is being put up by Cumulus Collectif also from France.

Night Lights: Cyanea by Cumulus Collectif.

Night Lights: Cyanea by Cumulus Collectif.

Back to the SAM, where the Roundabout Midnight zone is based around, there are several installations to look out for. These include, The Cloud of Unknowing  by Ho Tzu Nyen in the Chapel on 29 and 30 August, 2014 – a cinematic exploration of the cloud as image, metaphor and carrier for divine illumination; a NOISE Weekend @ SAM on 22 and 23 August at 8Q Plaza, SAM at 8Q that will feature emerging bands and musicians from NOISE Singapore’s Music Programme; Darker Than Wax DJs at SAM on 29 August; and The Local People x SAM Night Market on 30 August, 2014 – where visitors can eat, listen and shop at the art market along Queen Street.

Cyanea from its inside.

Cyanea from its inside.

A view of the Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, through Cyanea.

A view of the Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, through Cyanea.

The last zone, Block Party @ Armenian Street, will see a wild and happening Armenian Street where parties to late will be taking place. The parties will include one that will see much excitement with a ring put up on the second weekend right in the middle of Armenian Street (which will be closed to traffic from 8 pm to 2 am on festival nights). The ring will see wrestling bouts that will pit stars of Singapore Pro Wrestling – another first at the Night Festival.

And Tango makes the Singapore Night Festival.

And Tango makes the Singapore Night Festival.

A performance that might be worth catching at Block Party is How Drama ‘s Fat Kids are Harder to Kidnap, in Something Borrowed, Something New at The Substation Theatre, which will probably have you in stitches – not just because of the speed performance of 31 plays in an hour by the Singapore based improvisational performers, but also for their rather amusing take on current happenings. The performance, which will see the audience determine the sequence, has the audience laughing at the funny side of issues such as the much talked about Singapore Tourism Board’s “Honey, Look!” video advertisement as well as the National Library’s tango with the removal of children’s books from the shelves.

Honey, Look!

Honey, Look!

Admission to the Singapore Night Festival (including to the participating museums) is free. More information, including the festival guide, details of the performances, installations and also the artists, can be found at www.sgnightfest.sg. The festival’s happenings can also be followed on twitter at @BrasBasahBugis and on Facebook. There is also a festival guide available on instagram @SNFGUIDE. Hashtags for use during the festival are #SGNightFest and #SNFer.

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Singapore Art Museum – National Day Open House 2014

8 08 2014

Event Listing

In celebration of Singapore’s National Day, the Singapore Art Museum is opening its doors to the public with free admission to the museum and participation in various family art activities. Free workshops and activities have been organised to coincide with the newly opened exhibition Sensorium 360º. Visitors are able to create their own artworks, inspired by Singapore’s National Day and the artworks of Sensorium 360º.

ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHTS

ACTIVITY: COLLABORATIVE MURAL

VENUE: SAM Level 2 Lobby

TIME: 11.00 am to 6.00 pm

This collaborative artwork celebrates National Day by involving participants the creation of a mural with cityscape and landmarks of Singapore. Participants can contribute by drawing well-known Singapore landmarks, as well as personal landmarks such as houses, people, cars, etc. This mural will be displayed at SAM throughout National Day.

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ACTIVITY: DARK ROOM

VENUE: SAM Gallery 3.7

TIME: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm

DURATION: 45 minutes

Inspired by Sensorium 360° artwork, Unseen: Touch Field by Alicia Neo, this activity encompasses the experience of craft making in a dark room setting and allows the participants to rely solely on their sense of touch. Participants will create shapes and forms using materials such as beans and beads by following verbal instructions.

ACTIVITY: NATIONAL DAY KALEIDOSCOPE

VENUE: SAM Glass Hall

TIME: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm

DURATION: 45 minutes

Inspired by Sensorium 360° artwork, The Overview Installation by Eugene Soh, which transforms the way we see the world, participants will create a kaleidoscope to celebrate National Day through intriguing fragments of colours and patterns.

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For more details, please visit the Singapore Art Museum website at http://www.singaporeartmuseum.





Conversations of the lonely

15 06 2014

That sense of loneliness often creeps out on most of us whenever we find ourselves alone in a strange and foreign city, a sense that award winning Korean artist Jieun Park does quite cleverly capture in her series A Little Talk, an exhibition of works from which are currently on display at the REDSEA Gallery at Dempsey Road.

A Little Talk at REDSEA.

A Little Talk at REDSEA.

The works, which at first glance take on the appearance of pieces of calligraphy offering perhaps a glance into Park’s background in the Oriental Arts, are much more than that. It is against the base of the bold brushstrokes Park paints onto Korean paper that one finds the fine details in acrylic she has added on – intricately painted cityscapes – a means she uses to have “a little conversation” with each city she visits to overcome the loneliness that she feels.

Detail of the cityscapes in acrylic that Park juxtaposes onto calligraphy like brushstrokes.

Detail of the cityscapes in acrylic that Park juxtaposes onto calligraphy like brushstrokes.

A total of 30 pieces, which Park says takes anything between three weeks to three months to complete, have been brought in for the exhibition  featuring cities such as Paris, Lyon, Florence, Prague and Singapore. A Little Talk runs from 12 to 29 June 2014 at REDSEA Gallery at 9 Dempsey Road. More information is available at www.redseagallery.com.

There is much to ponder over.

There is much to ponder over.

Jieun Park.

Jieun Park.

Juxtapositions.

Juxtapositions.

 





A headless Chairman Mao

22 03 2014

Offering a fresh perspective on the great Surrealist master Salvador Dali, one that does look at him on a very personal level, SALVADOR DALI: The Argillet Collection opens its doors today at the REDSEA Gallery. The exhibition, featuring 112 of the artist’s works, a great number of which are etchings with which he collaborated with long time associate and friend Pierre Argillet on, is being brought in by Argillet’s daughter Christine and the gallery for what is the largest display of the collection as well as one that is seen for the very first time in Asia.

Madame Argillet on the Poems of Mao Zedong.

Madame Argillet on the ‘Poems by Mao Zedong’.

The works, all of which are available for private acquisition, span from traditional interpretations we see recurring in much of the artist’s work, to the ones influenced by the contemporary. In the series, Mythologie, we see works in which Dali reinterprets the symbolism in Greek mythology, often starting with a smudge. The series also sees the employment of Dali’s creative genius in which he experimented with various unconventional tools in working on the copper plates, including using a real Octopus immersed in acid in the etching for his work Medusa.

Medusa, Mythologie Series, 1963. 57 x 77 cm. Mixed-media print incorporating heliogauvre and drypoint etching. Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Medusa, Mythologie Series, 1963. 57 x 77 cm. Mixed-media print incorporating heliogauvre and
drypoint etching. Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Beside the many works from the period of the artist’s collaboration with Pierre Argillet, the exhibition also features a series of works that traces its origins back to the 1930s, The Songs of Maldoror. The work stems from a commission the artist received from Albert Skira to provide illustrations for the book Les Chants de Maldoror – a literary work by Lautreamont that serves as a source of inspiration for the Surrealist movement, for which 44 copper etchings were produced. 42 original plates were purchased by Argillet in 1971 with Dali reworking 8 of the plates – and what we do see at the exhibition will be the suite of 50 prints.

The entrance to the exhibition with an Aubusson tapestry 'Burning Giraffe'.

The entrance to the exhibition with an Aubusson tapestry ‘Burning Giraffe’.

What I did think were particularly interesting were two series being exhibited and on which Madame Argillet elaborated on at the media preview. One, the Poems by Mao Zedong, was commissioned in 1967 by Argillet and involves eight illustrations some of which were political satires. The works were executed during the cultural revolution was to include one that had told Argillet would be a portrait of Mao – what turned out to be a headless figure. Dali’s explanation for this was that the Mao was so tall that he could not be depicted in full in the illustration. The works also needed the blessings of the Chinese embassy for which Argillet was somehow able to obtain.

Portrait of Chairman Mao.

Portrait of Chairman Mao.

The Hippies, based on photographs from a visit Argillet made to India, involves an etching that had originally been worked on during a rare public appearance by Dali. As related by Madame Argillet, Dali had appeared in the presence of a huge crowd of journalists with a strange look in his eyes – producing nothing but a series of swirls on the copper plate, following which he promptly left despite Argillet’s attempts to convince him otherwise. He was to ask Agrillet for the plate a few day following that, saying that he had no recollection of the appearance as he had, at someone’s suggestion, taken LSD. From that – he was to produce Women in Waves, a etching that was to be one that would be very well received.

Madame Argillet on the Hippies series and 'Women in Waves'.

Madame Argillet on the Hippies series and ‘Women in the Waves’.

Women in the Waves.

Women in the Waves.

Beside the many striking etchings that bear many elements of the artist’s style, there are also three tapestries hand-woven in Aubusson. One, the Burning Giraffe, greets visitors at the entrance to the gallery. Despite its rather macabre depiction of a bullfight, with a burning giraffe that is depicted in several of the artist’s work, the tapestry does somehow have a rather charming quality.

Madame Argillet on 'Piano Under Snow'.

Madame Argillet on ‘Piano Under Snow’.

All works in the collection have been authenticated and signed by Salvador Dali and have never before left the Collection. The collection will be on display at the exhibition from 22 March to 20 April 2014 at the REDSEA Gallery located at Block 9 Dempsey Road.





Artistic radiators growing up with Salvador Dali

19 03 2014

Opening at the REDSEA Gallery on Saturday is an exhibition that will offer a very personal perspective of the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. SALVADOR DALI: The Argillet Collection will feature 112 etchings, drawings, and tapestries from the renowned Pierre Argillet Collection, all of which will be available for private acquisition. Seen for the very first time in Asia, the collection provides a glimpse into the bond Dali had with Pierre Argillet,  his publisher, through their many years of collaboration and friendship.

Dali with Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dali with Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The collection is being brought over to Singapore by Pierre Argillet’s daughter, Christine Argillet, who in growing up in the presence of the great artist, will offer a personal insight into the collection. Madame Agrillet, who was also kind enough in allowing me to put some questions to her via email (see below), had this to say about bringing the exhibition in:

“This presentation is a tribute to the work of my father, Pierre Argillet, as an extraordinary publisher of the Dada and Surrealist group. This collection reflects his constant endeavour and his close collaboration with the artists of these two movements, especially Salvador Dali. My goal is to have this collection presented in the finest galleries and museums throughout the world,”

Argus in color, Individual Etchings, 1963. 57 x 77cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Argus in color, Individual Etchings, 1963. 57 x 77cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

All works in the collection have been authenticated and signed by Salvador Dali and have never before left the Collection. The exhibition will be opened from 22 March to 20 April 2014. 

Portrait of Marguerite Faust, 1968. 38 x 28cm. Drypoint etchings with roulette, ruby & diamond Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Portrait of Marguerite Faust, 1968. 38 x 28cm. Drypoint etchings with roulette, ruby & diamond Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


An interview with Madame Christine Agrillet

Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Growing up around Dali: Dali was a very kind uncle for me, simple in his daily life, yet very inventive. Anything at home was subject to turning it into another use, another tool. Dali had a very special way of envisioning or reconsidering things. 

For instance: one day, his wife Gala had told him that their radiators were really ugly. Dali decided to hide them behind a wood panel and painted radiators over it. The most artistic radiators…

There was always this kind of light humor, this way of making fun out of everything with a gentle surrealist attitude.

Dali was at the same time a workaholic and a very free person. He would strive to paint with a one-hair brush or he would throw acid on copper plates to create uncertain smudges that would challenge him to create a very figurative subject next to these abstract shapes. We have exhibiting here in Singapore the series of the Mythology etchings that was created using this process.

Dali’s influence on her: I think both Dali’s incredible work on himself and his total freedom have impressed me and certainly have had an influence on my life.

Behind the public persona: Dali could be very eccentric in public to grab attention, but he could be totally absorbed in his paintings and forget about anything around him for hours or days. I think that the public persona he created was at the opposite of his real character.

Have her impressions of Dali been changed since childhood: No, there was a very charming Dali, elegant, simple, and creative that I knew and there was this opposite: the public persona. For me, they were two different persons. My father used to say that Dali was shy and that he was exaggerating everything while facing a public.

The collection: Many works in our collection mean a lot for me. My father had a passion for Dali’s drawings and he would often meet with Dali, speak of his projects with him. The Aubusson tapestries became something extraordinary as Dali wanted to cover the walls of his museums with this traditional technique. We have a film where we see Dali discovering these hand woven pieces in my father’s castle. There were also watercolours, drawings, sculptures, incredible telegrams between Picasso and Dali. All these constitute a part of my childhood.

On bringing the collection over to Singapore: This collection has never been seen in Singapore. My intention is to the show the wonderful collaboration of an artist and a publisher. The strong friendship between both Dali and my father allowed wonderful artworks to come to light. This is at the same time a tribute to Dali as a great etcher and a tribute to my father as a talented facilitator.

Individual Bullfight, Individual Etchings, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Colour-printed heliogravure with stencil, Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Individual Bullfight, Individual Etchings, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Colour-printed heliogravure with stencil, Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


About Pierre Argilllet:

The 1914-18 War Apollinaire (Secret Poems), 1967. 39 x 28cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint. Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The 1914-18 War Apollinaire (Secret Poems), 1967. 39 x 28cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint. Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Pierre Argillet was an avid collector of works by futurists, dadaists and surrealists, and very early on, met the major artists of the 20th century. In 1930, at the age of twenty, Argillet was deeply impressed by the “Les Chants de Maldoror” of Lautreamont. He began a spiritual journey along a path that was originated by Rimbaud and later pursued by Lautreamont, Marinetti, Andre Breton, Tzara and Chirico. He counted Duchamp and Jean Arp among his acquaintances, but when he met Dali, complicity led to a life-long friendship that lasted until the painter’s death in 1989.

Be it luck or fate, Dali’s delirious vision led to a long and fruitful collaboration between artist and publisher. They produced nearly 200 etchings. To name a few: la Mythologie (16 planches), le Christ, Sainte-Anne, l’Incantation. In 1966, Dali reworked 7 pieces of the Bullfight set of Picasso, giving them the Dali touch. In 1968, Dali illustrated “ la Nuit de Walpurgis “ of Faust (21 pieces) using rubies and diamonds as engraving tools, a technique that lent an incomparable delicacy to the design; next came the “ Poemes “ of Ronsard (18 pieces) and Apollinaire (18 pieces) . In 1969, Dali created “ Venus a la fourrure “ after Sacher Masoch (20 pieces), and between 1970-71, the Suites of Don Juan (3 pieces) and Hippies (11 pieces).

In 1974, artist and publisher parted their ways. Pierre Argillet would only accept etchings done in the traditional way, on copper, and refused to go along with Dali’s desire to make photo-based lithographs. But by using this process, Dali went on to produce a large number of works that appealed to a more widespread audience than ever before, but they were also subject to more criticism.

Piano under the snow Surrealist Bullfighter, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Heliogravures reworked in drypoint hand-coloured with stencil, Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Piano under the snow Surrealist Bullfighter, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Heliogravures reworked in drypoint hand-coloured with stencil, Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


 





A sneak peek at i Light Marina Bay 2014

7 03 2014

From the eye-catching, to the fun and quirky, there is something that will certainly catch your attention as Marina Bay brightens up from this evening until the end of March 2014, all in a sustainable way I should add – the festival’s 28 light art installations have been picked so as to convey the message of sustainability through art – a key area of focus for the three week long festival. It would probably take more than one visit to take in all 28 – especially with the installations spread around the bay area and that is just what the curatorial team hopes visitors would do, taking in the lights, as well as the fun that does come from some of the interactive installations.

From the pick of installations participants of a preview were introduced to, my favourites are in fact the interactive ones as well as the somewhat quirky ones. These are CLOUD by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett (which I only got to see from afar) – judging from what has been said about it, Jen Lewin’s The Pool, and Happy Croco by Bibi – who some may remember for his igloo installation during the last festival. The festival will be opened this evening and will be on every evening  until 30 March 2014. More information on the festival and the host of fringe events and activities can be found at the festival’s website.


A pick of installations


The Pool 

Jen Lewin Studio (USA)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade near The Promontory @ Marina Bay (A14 on the map)

Promises to be lots of fun, especially for the kids and those like me who want to be kids again. Watch as circular pads arranged in concentric circles change hues through movement – an effect that will best be seen when a group of people play together. The installation was created in a way that it can quite easily be recreated anywhere it needs moving to.

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Jan Lewin at The Pool


CLOUD 

Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett (Canada)

The Float @ Marina Bay (B9 on the map)

The CLOUD apparently has people pulling at strings – literally, by getting people to congregate under a rain cloud, the aesthetic of which is influenced by those under it pulling at light switches. The CLOUD features a contrast of old and new technologies, and is intended to demonstrate how an individual has the power to impact progress and achieve change. The real magic happens when multiple visitors work as one towards a unified response.

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Happy Croco 

Bibi (France)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade near Mist Walk (A4 on the map)

Happy Croco is a happy and somewhat quirky luminous 20 metre long installation – made with a backbone of traffic cones. There is an underlying message in the so-called urban crocodile though – in being made of items we discard everyday, Bibi, attempts to bring to attention the issue of plastic waste. 

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Mimosa

Jason Bruges Studio (UK)

Marina Bay City Gallery (A7 on the map)

Another that will be a favourite with the kids would be Mimosa – a work that uses organic light-emitting diodes to mimic the leaves of the responsive plant by sensing hand movements. 

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JouJou-Ours

Uno Lai (Taiwan)

Marina Bay City Gallery (A9 on the map)

The work, which features giant teddy-bear heads and intended to revisit childhood memories in which the soft toy would be a feature of , encourages the visitor not only to give the installation a hug, but also, judging to the response take lots of photographs with it.

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Uno Lai


#WeHeartLight

Light Collective (UK)

Marina Bay City Gallery (A8 on the map)

An installation made up of individual and personalised light boxes – the work of students from different schools in Singapore that emphasises the role of education in guiding the future generation towards a sustainable future.

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Beat

Arup (Singapore)

In front of Marina Bay Sands (A1 on the map)

An installation that appeals to the instinct to  touch, simulating a response from lighted globes that then adopt a human heart beat light pulse – another favourite with the kids.

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iSwarm

SUTD (Singapore)

In Marina Bay, near Bayfront Taxi Stop (A3 on the map)

A luminous swarm of “sea creatures” that interact with passer-by through light sensors.

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Floating Hearts

Travesias de Luz (Spain)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade, near Marina Bay Link Mall pop-up structure (A10 on the map)

A wall of illuminated hearts that invites passers-by to play with them.

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The Guardian Angels

Maro Avrabou and Dimitri Xenakis (Greece and France)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade near Breeze Shelter (A12 on the map)

Echoes the preservation of the garden and plants, and by extension, nature – a tribute to gardeners and artificially created gardens.

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Ryf Zaini (Singapore)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade (A11 on the map)

Giant speech bubbles that displays thoughts and messages akin to comic strips – a humourous reference to the shift in the way we interact socially in the digital age towards screen-based forms of communication.

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Fool’s Gold

Vertical Submarine (Singapore)

The Promontory (A13 on the map)

A work that alludes to a Chinese idiom about a fool who hides his gold but gives it away by erecting a sign to disclaim its existence. 

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1.26 Singapore

Janet Echelman (USA)

The Float @ Marina Bay (B10 on the map)

A huge illuminated net that depicts the force of nature that uses space-age Honeywell Spectra fibre. Suspended over the floating platform, the work is a 3D representation of the force of a tsunami created by the 2010 Chile earthquake and draws on laboratory research done by NASA and NOAA on the earthquake. The earthquake resulted in a shift in the axis of the earth’s rotation, which shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds – hence the installation’s name.

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1.26 Singapore

Justin Lee and Dornier Asia Pte Ltd (Singapore and Switzerland)

ArtScience Museum (B14 on the map)

Celebration of Life is a large-scale projection by local artist Justin Lee on the ArtScience Museum – the first time he has taken on such a challenge. The projection takes viewers through a commentary on the role and value of traditional culture on contemporary society, blending traditional Eastern icons with modern day symbols.

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Digital Wattle 

Out of the Dark (New Zealand)

Near The Float @ Marina Bay (B11 on the map)

Based on the Golden Wattle, the installation explores the interplay between individual ethnic groups that co-exist within a city – the change of colours of the flowers swaying in the breeze representing the new mix of cultures.

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i Light Marina Bay 2014 related:


 





Colouring the new world

6 03 2014

The Marina Bay area will be brought to life this month of March as i Light Marina Bay returns from the 7th to 30th. The latest edition of the biennial light art festival, Asia’s only sustainable light art festival, sees 28 installations spread across what is already a visually stunning new world, a large part of which, rose from the sea.

1.26 by Janet Echelman, seen in Amsterdam (Photo-Courtesy-of-Janusvanden-Eijnden)

Highlights of the festival will include seven installations, each of which is being put up by an invited artist, one of whom is the internationally renowned Janet Echelman. Known for her sculpture environments that respond to the forces of nature, Ms Echelman will illuminate The Float @ Marina Bay with ‘1.26 Singapore’, a large floating fluid installation that uses space-age Honeywell Spectra fibre. Suspended over the floating platform, the work is a 3D representation of the force of a tsunami created by the 2010 Chile earthquake and draws on laboratory research done by NASA and NOAA on the earthquake. The earthquake resulted in a shift in the axis of the earth’s rotation, which shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds – hence the  installation’s name.

Mimosa by Jason Burges

Celebration of Life by Justin Lee

Another of the festival’s highlights to look forward to will be ‘Celebration of Life’, a large-scale projection by local artist Justin Lee on the ArtScience Museum that sees a commentary on the role and value of traditional culture on contemporary society. There are also several interactive installations, one of which is ‘Mimosa’ by UK based Jason Bruges Studio at the Marina Bay City Gallery. The work mimics the behaviour of responsive plant systems such as the mimosa and uses organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) arranged to open and close in response to hand movements.

CLOUD by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett (Photo Courtesy of Doug Wong)

Another interactive work that will surely be a hit is ‘CLOUD’ by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett, who are from Canada. Located at The Float @ Marina Bay, ‘CLOUD’ features 5,000 new and recycled lightbulbs (of which some 200 are functioning) on an installation that resembles a rain cloud, extending an invitation to strangers to come together under it and play. Visitors will be able to pull on switches, triggering a shift in the aesthetics – intended to demonstrate how an individual has the power to impact progress and achieve change. The real magic, we are told, does however happen when multiple visitors work as one towards a unified response.

The Pool by Jen Lewin

iSwarm by SUTD, Suranga Nanayakkara and Thomas Schroepfer

Other highlights are ‘JouJou-Ours’ by Uno Lai of Taiwan, which revisits childhood memories beside the Marina Bay City Gallery; the very colourful ‘The Pool’ by Jen Lewin Studio of the US, which is at the Promontory @ Marina Bay; and iSwarm by a team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – swarming the water near the Bayfront water taxi stop  with light that is reminiscent of naturally occurring phenomena such as bio-luminescent algae.

JouJou Ours by Uno Lai

Besides the invited artists, the remaining installations in i Light Marina Bay 2014 were selected through an open call, 13 of which are the creations of locally based artists. The three-week festival will also see several fringe activities and offerings that will include opportunities for fun with the family, to complement the installations – with food never far away. More information on the host of activities and culinary offerings is available at the festival’s website.

Giant Dandelion by Olivia D’Aboville

Along with the festival and fringe events, there will also be the i Light Symposium 2014, which will see three sessions held, the last of which will feature Janet Echelman. More information on the symposium and how to register can be found on the events listing page on the festival’s website.


i Light Marina Bay 2014 related:





Names in tofu and pigs that fly

16 01 2014

Art Stage Singapore is back! Dubbed the “flagship Asian art event of the region” and now in its fourth year, the annual art fair has a strong focus on the Asian (or as Founder and Fair Director, Mr Lorenzo Rudolf, correctly put it at a media preview – Asia-Pacific) art scene. This years sees the introduction of eight country and regional Platform, each curated by a leading international curator.

Art Stage Singapore provides an amazing array of art work to ponder over.

Art Stage Singapore provides an amazing array of art work to immerse oneself in.

The largest platform is the Southeast Asia Platform, which I must say is particularly intriguing, with some 31 works of artists from Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Singapore being presented. Besides Myanmar’s pioneering abstract  expressionist Soe Niang’s creation of reverse sketches on the walls of a large box to attract one’s attention (see previous post: We Are Asia – Art Stage Singapore 2014), there are several eye-catching works.

The writing on the wall. The start of Myanmar artist Soe Niang's attempt to create a series of reverse sketches on the black coated interior walls of a huge box.

The writing on the wall. Detail of Myanmar artist Soe Niang’s attempt to create a series of reverse sketches on the black coated interior walls of a huge box.

One that I was taken by is Laotian artist Bounpaul Phothyzan’s Controlled Desire – a sphere of suspended human shaped figurines  – human shaped fruit, Na Li Phon or ‘Miracle Fruit’, which according to Hmong folklore brings good fortune. The work is an attempt on the artist’s part to bring attention to social and environmental concerns and to put the spotlight on the human desire to manipulate nature for self-satisfaction.

Controlled Desire by Bounpaul Phothyzan.

‘Controlled Desire’ by Bounpaul Phothyzan.

Another set of work that will catch the eye is that of Filipino artist Mark Justiniani, which uses reflective media to good effect in the artist’s attempt to explore the principle of Superposition. Also represented in the country/regional platforms are India, China, Taiwan, Australia, Korea, Japan, and Central Asia. One that did get a fair bit of attention at the media preview was China’s Chen Qiulin’s The Hundred Surnames in Tofu – a work that looks at Chinese culture (in its surnames and their link to lineage) and its gradual decay and decomposition through the use of tofu.

Mark Justiniani's 'Tunnel'.

Mark Justiniani’s ‘Tunnel’.

Another of Mark Justiniani's study of Superposition.

Another of Mark Justiniani’s study of Superposition.

Thai artist Maint Kantasak's 'Milky Way' - an installation of wood engravings in 194 jars.

Thai artist Manit Kantasak’s ‘Milky Way’ – an installation of wood engravings in 194 jars.

A close-up of Bounpaul Phothyzan's Miracle Fruit in 'Controlled Desire'.

A close-up of Bounpaul Phothyzan’s Miracle Fruit in ‘Controlled Desire’.

Thai artist Ruangsak Anuwatwimon's Hocus-Pocus - a table with shattered glass from Central World Plaza during the politically motivated violent protests of 2010.

Thai artist Ruangsak Anuwatwimon’s Hocus-Pocus – a table with glass from Central World Plaza shattered during the politically motivated violent protests of 2010.

Indian artist Raghava KK's 'Redrawing the Map' in the India Platform.

Indian artist Raghava KK’s ‘Redrawing the Map’ in the India Platform. The work is a playful take on the ‘beautifully impossible India’.

India Platform curator Bose Krishnamachari (R) at the India Platform.

India Platform curator Bose Krishnamachari (R) at the India Platform.

Sakshi Gupta's take on transformation at the India Platform.

Sakshi Gupta’s take on transformation at the India Platform.

The Central Asia Platform features video installations of several Central Asian artists.

The Central Asia Platform features video installations of several Central Asian artists.

The Hundred Surnames in Tofu by China artist Chen Qiulin.

‘The Hundred Surnames in Tofu’ by China artist Chen Qiulin.

Taiwan's Tu Pei-Shih's 'Making Fantasies' which has a NC16 rating.

Taiwan’s Tu Pei-Shih’s ‘Making Fantasies’ which has a NC16 rating.

Besides the country and regional platforms, there are some 158 galleries represented at the fair, 75% of which are based in the Asia-Pacific. The galleries have, as in previous years, brought in an amazing array of work, from the works of well-known and established artists to the quirky and bizarre works of contemporary and emerging artists.

Facing-off. Emerging artist Sam Jinks' 'Divide'.

Facing-off. Emerging artist Sam Jinks’ ‘Divide’.

The most photographed work is probably that of Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa's inflatable 'Love Me'.

The most photographed work is probably that of Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa’s inflatable ‘Love Me’.

Scream Gallery has some rather quirky pieces including Sally Fuerst's oil on canvas work 'Robot'.

Scream has some rather quirky pieces including Sally Fuerst’s oil on canvas work ‘Robot’.

More from Scream.

More from Scream.

Also at Scream.

Also at Scream.

Art Stage Singapore 2014 runs from 16 to 19 January 2014 and is being held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Besides the fair proper, there are also lots of fringe and community events and tours to look forward to including public talks, Platform Art Tours and workshops. More information is available at the fair’s website, Art Stage Singapore, including a list of exhibitors, a guide to the fair and information on ticketing.

Opera Gallery has its usual collection of Dali's sculptural works.

Opera Gallery has its usual collection of Dali’s sculptural works.

Taiwan Platform curator Rudy Tseng speaking at the media preview yesterday.

Taiwan Platform curator Rudy Tseng speaking at the media preview yesterday, as Korea Platform’s Kim Sung Won and Japan Platform’s Mami Kataoka look on.

More photographs taken at a preview of Art Stage 2014:

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We Are Asia – Art Stage Singapore 2014

13 01 2014

An annual art fair that is always something that shouldn’t be missed in Art Stage Singapore. A platform for This year’s edition, the fourth, as with the previous editions, is very much that platform the fair has come to be in bringing together artists, galleries, curators and art curators – with that strong Asian focus.

Misdirection.

Art Stage Singapore (a photograph take at the 2012 edition), is always something to be on the look out for.

This years fair sees a format that moves away from that used in previous editions, with eight country/regional platforms: Southeast Asia, India, China, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Central Asia; showcased in a museum like exhibition layout that is curated by respective experts of each regions art scene.

Each year, the annual fair features a very strong Asia-Pacific presence - photographs is of Philippine artist  Geraldine Javier’s “Red fights back” at Art Stage Singapore 2013.

Each year, the annual fair features a very strong Asia-Pacific presence – photographs is of Philippine artist Geraldine Javier’s “Red fights back” at Art Stage Singapore 2013.

The largest Platform will be Southeast Asia, curated by Art Stage Singapore in collaboration with six country advisers. To look out for will be newly commissioned works from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, The Philippines and Thailand. The fair will also see a strong local presence with 29 Singapore based galleries participating, compared to 22 in 2013. There fair this year also sees a strong representation of galleries from the Asia Pacific with 80% of the participating galleries from the region.

Art Stage 2013 (photo: Art Stage Singapore).

Art Stage 2013 (photo: Art Stage Singapore).

Among the artists who will have feature in the Southeast Asia Platform is Soe Niang (Yone Arts), who will present an installation peice, Intermission on Stage. Soe Niang, who hails from Myanmar, is one of the country’s pioneering abstract  expressionists who had produced some 10,000 “diary sketches” in his vigil throughout Myanmar’s dark days of isolationism during the reign of the military regime. The installation will see him create a series of reverse sketches on the black coated interior walls of a huge box – the size of a shipping container, through the four days of the exhibition.

Soe Niang (photo: Yone Arts).

Soe Niang (photo: Yone Arts).

A feature from Malaysia to look out for will be Justin Lim’s (Richard Koh Fine Art) There is no other paradise, a work that the artist describes as stemming “from an on-going amalgamation of social commentary and contemporary reality within the framework of symbolism and make-believe”. The project will see work in a range of media that addresses social issues in contemporary Malaysian society, touching on the subjects of racial divide, nostalgia, ethnicity and religion including Washing the obsolete in the arms of the absolute. The installation borrows from “Mandi bunga” (flower bath) ritual that was also interestingly what another Malaysian based artist, Sharon Chin, borrowed from in her recent work at the Singapore Biennale 2013.

Washing the obsolete in the arms of the absolute 165x68x70cm Fiberglass bath tub, fabric, video projection 2013

Washing the obsolete in the arms of the absolute 165x68x70cm Fiberglass bath tub, fabric, video projection 2013(photo: Richard Koh Fine Art).

More information on Art Stage Singapore 2014, which runs from 16 to 19 January 2014 at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, is available at the fair’s website, Art Stage Singapore, including a list of exhibitors, a guide to the fair and information on ticketing.


Photographs from previous editions of Art Stage Singapore on this site:






Finding a ghost in an old church

31 10 2013

Just in time for Halloween, so it may seem, a ghost awaits discovery in the old Middle Road Church.

Looking for a ghost, one might perhaps find love too at the old church.Looking for a ghost, one might perhaps find love too at the old church.

Despite the timing of the ghost’s appearance, it has actually got little to do with the silliness of Halloween in a part of the world where the celebration should really have little or no significance.

Opening Night.

Opening Night.

The ghost that we find at the de-consecrated church building, now perhaps in its third life as the Chapel Gallery of an arts centre we know as Sculpture Square, is an exhibition of art in its various forms, in which the body, as described on the exhibition’s website as “unruly, visceral, and ephemeral”, is used as a medium and “a site of resistance” returning to haunt us, unearthing “a different shape and understanding of Singapore”.

Eric Khoo's Mee Pok Man.

Eric Khoo’s Mee Pok Man.

The exhibition, Ghost: The Body at the Turn of the Century timed to coincide with the Singapore Biennale, sees installations by well known names which range from Amanda Heng to Eric Khoo and John Clang. One exhibit which is perhaps rather intriguing is Ray Langenbach’s Archive by Loo Zihan. Occupying a large part of the Chapel Gallery it resurrects the ghost of the infamous Artists’ General Assembly of 1993 and its fallout, featuring a collection from Ray Langenbach’s extensive archives – all connected by a web of thread woven by Loo Zihan.

The web woven by artist Loo Zihan.

The web of intrigue woven by artist Loo Zihan.

A ghost from the archives.

A ghost from the archives.

The ghost in the old church haunts Sculpture Square until 31 December 2013. More information can be found at the centre’s website.

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A public bath on the museum’s front lawn

28 10 2013

In what is probably a first in Singapore, some 100 people were seen to be taking a very public bath together at the National Museum of Singapore’s (NMS) front lawn on Saturday evening. The public display of cleansing was actually carried out as part of the Singapore Biennale 2013 on its opening weekend – a public performance put up by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin named Mandi Bunga, which literally means Flower Bath.

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Taking a flower bath, although not necessarily a public one in a crowd, is actually a ritual practiced across much of east Asia – as a means to cleanse body and soul of evil and ill luck, or as I was told in my younger days, to “buang suay” or throw out bad luck. The idea for the performance did in fact come from a call to cleanse, one which the Bersih movement in Sharon’s country of origin calls for, with the artist dreaming it up in 2012 after her experience of two Bersih street rallies – hence the yellow that is prominent throughout the display that is seen in the basins used as well as in the sarongs which the participants wore.

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While what most of us got to see was the public display, the 100 or so participants did actually attend workshops which were carried out on several weekends preceding during which participants got to design their sarongs for the event. The performance also involved the participants gathering at another Singapore Biennale venue, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) – assembling at the courtyard where school assemblies (when the buildings were used by the original occupants, St. Joseph’s Institution) had once been held. The participants then walked in their sarongs over to the NMS.

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While the performance – at which all involved seemed to have tremendous fun at, is a one evening event, the project’s process and outcomes have been documented and will be installed at SAM for the Singapore Biennale which runs until 16 February 2014. More information on the Singapore Biennale 2013 can be found at the event’s website.

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A magical final weekend at the Singapore Night Festival

30 08 2013

To look out for on this, the second weekend of this year’s edition of the Singapore Night Festival, has to be two death-defying mega stunts that will be attempted by “the sexiest woman in magic” – Singapore magician, Magic Babe Ning. The stunts which will take place in front of the National Museum of Singapore will see Ning attempt two Houdini-like escapes – one submerged in water and the second, one that involves escaping from a strait-jacket whilst suspended in mid-air by a burning rope together with the other half of a pairing The Straits Times had referred to as “Asia’s most famous illusionists” J C Sum.

In the spotlight during the second weekend will be "the sexiest woman in magic" Magic Babe Ning, seen here contemplating her acts at the National Museum of Singapore.

In the spotlight during the second weekend will be “the sexiest woman in magic” Magic Babe Ning, seen here contemplating her acts at the National Museum of Singapore.

The first stunt The Water Vault, which will take place on Friday (today), 30 August 2013, at 10 pm in front of the National Museum of Singapore. For this, shackled at the neck, wrists and wasit, Ning will be submerged in a locked and chained steel vault which will be filled to the brim with water – and all she has is two minutes with which she can hold her breath, to escape from all that!

J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning with the locked and chained steel vault filled with water which she will attempted to escape from whilst shackled at the neck, wrists and waist.

J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning with the locked and chained steel vault filled with water which she will attempted to escape from whilst shackled at the neck, wrists and waist.

The second stunt, is definitely one that is going to be a lot more spectacular – and visible! Also taking place in front of the National Museum of Singapore, this time at 10 pm on Saturday 31 August 2013, the stunt, Ultimate Inversion, will be a huge first and one for the record books – if successful, it will the first time a tandem upside down strait jacket escape will be done! The stunt will see both, trying to escape from regulation strait-jackets, suspended by ankle boots from a bar attached to a single burning rope over the museum’s dome … a stunt which does carry huge risks – there are many factors which can impede the escape – including the hot and humid conditions which does make the strait-jacket stick to skins a lot more! Plus, there will not be any safety nets! The stunt will also be witnessed by the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Singapore Book of Records. Speaking to Magic Babe Ning  last evening – I realised that how risky the manoeuvre would be – seeing that the only preparations the pair were able to do is to practice escaping from a strait-jacket upside down!

5 Streams.

5 Streams.

Besides the magic of the two stunts – there were two other magical installations that I got a sneak peek of last evening. One is 5 Streams – which will see three different dance sequences by Ibrahim Quraishi of BamBam Projects – all to a haunting and as the festival guide describes, hypnotic mix of video streaming, live percussion and base guitars.

The people behind 5 Streams.

The people behind 5 Streams.

The other installation I did get to see is what should be a delightful animated projection onto the façade of the National Museum of Singapore by local company OICsingapore – accompanied by original music. The projection, MoonGrazing is described as a surrealistic abstract animation that playfully explores the moon and its stories through the eyes of the illustrators from OICsingapore.

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The Water Vault (Magic Babe Ning)

Friday 30 Aug 2013

10 pm

National Museum of Singapore façade

Asia’s female Houdini and “the sexiest woman in magic” (Magicseen Magazine), ‘Magic Babe’ Ning will attempt a spectacular underwater escape from The Water Vault. Shackled with chains and locks around her wrists, waist and neck, Ning will be completely submerged in a steel vault filled to the brim with water that is, in turn, locked and chained tightly on the outside. Ning will have less than two minutes to free herself from The Water Vault before she runs out of breath.

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Ultimate Inversion (J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning)

Saturday 31 Aug 2013

10 pm

National Museum of Singapore façade

Witness history being made as “Asia’s most famous illusionists” (The Straits Times), J C Sum & ‘Magic Babe’ Ning, attempt the world’s first ever tandem upside down strait jacket escape! They will both be strapped up in two regulation strait jackets each and suspended upside down by their ankles, one person below the other, high up in the air from a single burning rope. If the rope burns through or if they make one small mistake, they will plummet to the ground 50ft below.

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5 Streams (Ibrahim Quraishi / BamBam Projects)

Friday 30 and Saturday 31 Aug 2013

8.45 pm, 9.45 pm & 10.45pm

MAIN Ground

Explosive sounds, vocals, intense dance sequences, video streaming, live percussion and base guitars are combined to create a hypnotic performance where dancers appear as installation: space transforms into living architectural symbols, video projection immersed in nature and the abstraction of geometry. Sound trembles through the body before it’s heard and the audience is invited to wander and meditate in an interactive installation of a synthetic forest with each its own interactive sonic mix: this cross media performance / installation includes an extraordinary international team of artists (Ibrahim Quraishi, Norsq, Marc Perroud aka Tzed, Gabriel Smeets, Katrin Blantar, Walid Breidi, Jule Flierl, Martin B. Hansen, Olivier Hüe, Nicolas Lelièvre, Ligia Manuela Lewis, Naseem Abbas Malik, Ewan A.S and Aziz Bekkaoui. Nico Van Der Vegte and Kieu Voung)

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Moongrazing (OICSingapore)

Friday 30 Aug 2013 and Saturday 31 Aug 2013

7 pm to 2 am (OIC live music & drawing: 7.30 pm, 8 pm, 11 pm & 11.30 pm)

National Museum of Singapore façade

Set to an original piece of music- MoonGrazing is a surrealistic abstract animation that playfully explores the moon and its stories through the eyes of the illustrators from OICsingapore. Throughout the two nights, the façade of the National Museum of Singapore will be transformed into a canvas for local artists to showcase their playful creativity. To add to the spontaneity of the moment, for twice each night, illustrators and indie musicians will jam together live. Each performance is unique as lines of music and drawing meet and improvisations happen on the most random note.

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The Singapore Night Festival final weekend is on 30 and 31 August 2013. More information can be obtained at the following links:






Highlights of the Singapore Night Festival

23 08 2013

To be held over two weekends, the Singapore Night Festival opens this evening with what promises to be some wonderful acts to literally illuminate the evening in the Bras Basah precinct – some of which I did get to have a sneak peek of. More on the festival and on one act which will certainly be a hit, Redux by Starlight Alchemy, can be found on my previous post on this years festival, Playing with Fire. Some of the other highlights for the first weekend which we did also get to see follow (descriptions provided by the festival guide):


Fly me from the moon

(Oomoonbeings by Singapierrot)

Friday 23 and Saturday 24 Aug 2013

7.30pm, 8.45 pm & 10pm

Armenian Street

Two ethereal jesters descend from a crescent moon and explore the land.  Dressed in plastics, these contemporary incarnations of Pierrot play in a series of teasing vignettes combining movement and installation. With a whimsical oldtime mood, this little reverie features gypsy-swing jazz duo So Ma Fan as live accompaniment.

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Shadow Play

(Vertical Extraction by Compagnie Retouramont)

Friday 23 and Saturday 24 Aug 2013

8.15 pm, 9.30 pm & 10.45 pm

Façade of the National Museum of Singapore

Dancers embark on a vertical journey up the façade of the National Museum and break into a rhythmic dance on bungee cords in this site-specific performance that explores the museum’s architecture and surrounding space. Light projections which amplify the dancers’ bodies, and a special video by acclaimed local artist and filmmaker Victric Thng, complement Vertical Extraction to offer new perspectives on movement and our environment.

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In Suspension

(Pyramid of Void by Compagnie Retouramont)

Friday 23 and Saturday 24 Aug 2013

8.30 pm, 9.45 pm & 11 pm

Façade of the National Museum of Singapore

In this aerial dance performance, a pyramid structure made of ropes is suspended in mid-air, outlining the contours of a void, an abstract space invisible to the eye. With the ropes as their only form of support, dancers demonstrate their acrobatic creativity and agility as they negotiate the minimalist set. Their movements form a dialogue with the pyramid, breathing life into the structure and giving shape to the spaces in-between.

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Playing with Water

(Water Light Graffiti by Antonin Fourneau)

Friday 23, Saturday 24, Friday 30, Saturday 31 Aug 2013

7.30 pm to 2 am

Outside Raffles City

Based on an idea as simple as illumination, Water Light Graffiti enables one to draw or write ephemeral messages which appear as light against the wall of LEDs. To use water, which has no shape and no colour, to draw light, is a magical experience for all. By mixing a natural element and technology, Water Light Graffiti’s users can even play with the weather or the evaporation speed for example. Water Light Graffiti also has a surprising role during rainy days and turn them into fireworks of damp LEDs.

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Music Made in  Singapore

(Homemade)

Friday 23 and Saturday 24 Aug 2013

7.30 pm to 12 am

Singapore Management University (SMU) Green

HOMEMADE 2013 is a celebration of originality, collaboration and Singapore-made music. This year, the music festival is presented over 2 weekends, 23 & 24 Aug and the intimate HOMEMADE 2013 (UNPLUGGED) sessions on 30 & 31 Aug. Some of the acts to look forward to are Pleasantry, The Obedient Wives Club, Inch Chua and The Bushmen. An exciting feature of the music festival has always been the never-before-seen (or heard) presentations and also, collaborations between musicians and genres. In the true spirit of bigger, better and louder, Homemade 2013 will debut a 20-piece band – The Electric Symphony Project.

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Caught in a Net

(Everlast by Sookoon Ang)

Friday 23, Saturday 24, Friday 30, Saturday 31 Aug 2013

7 pm to 2 am

National Museum of Singapore (Rotunda)

EVERLAST is an installation created with foil balloons. The work is a visual poem which the arrangement of text and the selected material for the visualization are important in conveying the intended effect of the work. The work takes poetry beyond the printed and causing it to manifest in both metaphysically as well as physically, blurring the distinction between art and text. This poem addresses life & death, light & lightness. It speaks about the exhilarating energy and dynamics of between 2 persons.

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Bottled Beauties

(Absolut Canvas)

Friday 23, Saturday 24, Friday 30, Saturday 31 Aug 2013

7 pm to 2 am

Sunday 25 to Monday 2 Sep 2013

10 am to 6 pm

National Museum of Singapore (Stamford Gallery)

With its iconic silhouette and its collaborations with some of the most recognisable artists and designers, ABSOLUT has cemented itself as the perfect canvas for creative ideas to flourish. ABSOLUT CANVAS showcases the ways in which artists and designers have used the ABSOLUT bottle as a channel for their creativity. The exhibition features beautifully designed bottles as well as an interactive area where visitors will get to unleash their own creativity. It also includes a pop-up bar serving ABSOLUT cocktails
that have been created specially for ABSOLUT CANVAS.

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And the best part about Absolut Canvas is that throughout the four nights of the festival, there would be a pop-up bar just outside the Stamford Gallery. The bar will serve Absolut Vodka and Absolut Elyx – with three different cocktails also served which were created specially for Absolut Canvas all of which is absolutely fabulous!

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The Singapore Night Festival runs on 23 and 24 August 2013 and on 30 and 31 August 2013. More information can be obtained at the following links:






Playing with fire

22 08 2013

Photographs taken at last evening’s media preview of the Singapore Night Festival of a performance, Redux, by Starlight Alchemy – one of the highlights of the annual festival which be held over two weekends in the Bras Basah precinct this year which will see a nocturnal extravaganza of performances over four days.

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Describing themselves as “a constellation of international artists orbiting around Singapore that manipulate light, fire and skill toys to bring a sense of wonder to the performing arts” it was indeed with much wonder that a sneak peek of their performance – set against the façade of the National Museum, Redux, was greeted last evening.  Their performances will take place during the first weekend on 23 and 24 August 2013 at 8.45 pm, 10 pm and 11.15 pm. The last performance of each night will allow some interactivity with a free jam-and-play session at the end during which visitors will get to play with LED manipulation tools the group will use in their performances along with fire.

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Interactivity will be a feature of this year’s edition of the festival – the Night Lights segment of it will see several projections which will permit interaction.  The festival also promises to be bigger and better with the participation of an increased number of stakeholders and partners from the area – more than twice that of 2012. It will also see the addition of several more venues stretching from Plaza Singapura to Raffles City. New venues this year include the two malls mentioned, as well CHIJMES, 222 Queen Street and Sculpture Square. This year will also see lots of food on offer with Hawker Food Alley set up at the alleyway between The Substation and Armenian Street and So Sedap at the SMRT Walkway along Stamford Road.

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Re-branded from “Night Festival” to the “Singapore Night Festival” to reflect it being a platform to highlight and showcase local talents, this year’s festival runs over two weekends on the evenings of 23 and 24 August 2013 and 30 and 31 August 2013. There is also late night free admission to the participating museums to look out for during the festival. These museums are the National Museum of Singapore, the Peranakan Museum, and the Singapore Art Museum and will be on the festival nights from 7 pm to 2 am.  Do stay tuned for more festival highlights see at the preview for the first weekend. More information on the Singapore Night Festival can be obtained from the festival’s website.

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Information on Singapore Night Festival






Essentially Eames

29 07 2013

A rather compelling exhibition currently running at the ArtScience Museum which I was able to visit at the kind invitation of the museum is one which takes an in-depth look into the creative geniuses that are Charles and Ray Eames, long considered to be the first couple of design. The exhibition, Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition, which runs from 29 June 2013 to 5 January 2014 and is co-presented by renowned furniture maker Herman Miller and the ArtScience Museum in collaboration with the Eames Office, is one curated by the couple’s grandson Eames Demetrios based on a book he wrote, An Eames Primer.

From the Eames collection - the Eames were known to be collectors of many objects.

From the Eames collection – the Eames were known to be collectors of many objects.

The Eameses are well known for their furniture design.

The Eameses are well known for their furniture design.

The exhibition, which  is certainly a must visit for anyone with a keen interest in the art of creative design, and for anyone else who takes delight in seeing and gaining insights into well-designed everyday objects and design concepts, includes a showcase of very recognisable furniture pieces designed by the couple – one which also provides an appreciation of the couple’s keen sense in the exploitation of the properties of different materials for use in their designs. The materials used range from fabrics, metals to moulded plywood – a technique Charles Eames himself developed and perfected in making moulded plywood splints in 1942 for the U.S. Navy during World War II. The technique was employed in the making of the iconic Lounge Chair Wood originally designed in 1945 for the Barclays Hotel in New York.

Moulded plywood splints.

Moulded stackable plywood splints made for the U.S. Navy.

The iconic moulded plywood Lounge Chair Wood.

The iconic moulded plywood Lounge Chair Wood.

One moulded wood piece which did also catch my eye was a moulded plywood glider seat – designed in 1943 for the U.S. Navy, which was also to help the Eameses master the moulding of plywood. The seat on display we were told is currently valued at US $1 million.

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The moulded plywood glider seat.

Besides the moulded plywood chairs – of which I am a huge fan of for the eye-catching and clean forms, there are also furniture made of other materials including metals  such as the wire-chair, designed to be lightweight and for outdoor use.

The Eames Wire Chair.

A mock-up of an advertising window with the Eames Wire Chair and bird sculpture.

Interestingly, there also are several timeless furniture pieces from the Herman Miller furniture collection including the Nelson Marshmallow Sofa which was designed in 1956 by George Nelson and Irving Harper, using injection plastic discs which an inventor thought could be produced inexpensively and was durable. Nelson, who  was the Director of Design at Herman Miller under whose supervision Charles and Ray Eames was to come under,arranged 18 of the discs on a steel frame to create the Marshmallow sofa which Herman Miller was to manufacture.

The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

Beyond furniture, there is also much to discover at the exhibition’s other galleries about the range of the creative genius of the couple – who met while Charles was teaching at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and Ray was a student, inlcuding what they applied in architecture, exhibition design, toy making, photography, film and philosophy.  In architecture, we are able to have a look at the “Eames House” or “Case Study House No. 8” – designed by the couple as part of the Case Study House programme for John Entenza’s Arts & Architecture magazine. The couple was, in 1949, to build the house they designed – for use as their home and studio – designed “for a married couple working in design and graphic arts, whose children were no longer living at home” which “would serve as a background for life in work and with nature as a shock absorber.”

The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8.

The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8.

A peek into the Eames House.

A peek into the Eames House.

The range of toys the Eames produced include the well-known House of Cards for which visitors can try their hands at. Other interactive activities at the exhibition include Essential Play where visitors can create their own small scale furniture, a Materials Trail, and a animal mask making activity for the young.

House of Cards.

House of Cards.

An interactive activity for the young.

An interactive activity for the young.

More from the Eames collection.

More from the Eames collection.

One exhibit which will certainly catch the attention of the visitor is at the Mathematica gallery where based on the original 1961 exhibit at the California Museum of Science and Industry where it remained on continuous display for 37 years are exhibits which explains complex mathematical concepts through simple forms. Here the visitor will find the mathematical concept of the Moebius band – a one-sided surface with only one side.

The Moebius Band.

The Moebius Band.

The Eames design philosophy.

The Eames design philosophy.

Vitra dolls designed by a close associate of Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard.

Vitra dolls designed by a close associate of Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard.

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Fabrics designed by the Eameses.

Of the exhibits which I must say shows the range that the creative genius of the couple extended to, my personal favourite was the photographic work of Charles Eames. He certainly is one with a keen eye for photography and in the gallery – we see the clean and uncluttered images which is of great appeal to me. More information on the exhibition can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

Photographs by Charles Eames.

Photographs by Charles Eames.

Besides the visit to Essential Eames, the programme also included a visit to another must-see exhibition Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb, for which I already had the pleasure of seeing. Details of my previous visit to that exhibition can be found in a previous post. Another part of the programme I should not forget to mention was lunch – which was most kindly provided by SweetSpot Deli, which serves New York style deli sandwiches generously packed with fillings. My favourite was the corned beef. SweetSpot Deli opens from 8 am to 11 pm Sundays to Thursdays, and 8 am to 12 am Fridays, Saturdays and on the eve of public holidays and is located the Bay Level #01-30 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

The mummy of Nesperennub at Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb.

The mummy of Nesperennub at Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb.





Sacks of rice, a hooded heroine and blond brooms on a Sunday afternoon

31 01 2013

Sunday begun in a pretty hectic way for me. I had what seemed like a full day by the time I welcomed the sunrise. I had woken up at 3.30 in the morning – so that I could make my way down to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple for Thaipusam, an annual ritual observed by Hindus of Southern Indian origin. A spiritual journey which begins well before the day itself, it culminates in an extreme act of faith involving the bearing of a burden or a kavadi on its final leg – and one which I try not to miss. I spent a good hour and a half at the temple, crowded not just with devotees and their families and friends, but also with hundreds of curious observers and photographers, before making my way across town to the Kampong Bahru flyover, not so much for the spectacular sunrise that was always going to be a treat, but more in an attempt to capture the column of 6000 runners on the inaugural Green Corridor Run making their way down the former railway yard. Having done all that, I decided to take the rest of the morning slow and easy – before making my way down to Art Stage 2013 – an annual event which is the largest international art fair here for a calm and slow afternoon – something I was certainly thankful for.

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Art Stage 2013 which brought in over 130 galleries, the majority of which are from the Asia-Pacific, was, reading the post-event news, a huge success – it attracted  some 40 500 visitors over 5 days, and provided a platform for many emerging artists, especially from Singapore and South-East Asia to be introduced into the art world. Joining in a guided tour for bloggers’ of the fair kindly arranged by URA Marina Bay’s place management team, I was also able to get to see and (pretend to) understand the works of some of these emerging artists a little better, artists such as Zulkifli Yusoff from Malaysia whose work Rukunegara was certainly an eye-catching one which provides the artist’s take on the nation-building process.

Rukunegara 2 by Malaysian artist Zulkifli Yusoff.

Rukunegara 2 by Malaysian artist Zulkifli Yusoff.

Another eye-catching piece is an intriguing installation by Geraldine Javier entitled “Red Fights Back”. Javier who is from the Philippines retells a popular fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood through a set of images and a tree, set against a backdrop of dried leaves. Also from the Philippines, is a large mural – that of street artist Vermont Coronel Jr., entitled “High Way” which is his interpretation of the urban landscape he is most familiar with – that of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfare, EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), a landscape that is also representative of many other urban spaces. The work involves the artist painstakingly creating stencils which is overlaid and sprayed over.

A visitor takes a close look at Geraldine Javier's "Red fights back".

A visitor takes a close look at Geraldine Javier’s “Red fights back”.

The final scene in "Red fights back".

The final scene in “Red fights back”.

"High Way" by Vermont Coronel Jr.

“High Way” by Vermont Coronel Jr.

Vermont Coronel Jr.'s work involves the use of stencils which he painstakingly creates.

Vermont Coronel Jr.’s work involves the use of stencils which he painstakingly creates.

The tour also introduced us to the work of two Thai artists, that of Anusorn Charoensuk and Maitree Siriboon, both of whom we had a chance to meet. Anusorn Charoensuk’s “World Tour” is interesting in that it involves photographs taken over a period of five years against the backdrop of paintings of popular tourist destinations – in which the subjects – members of his family, express the same joy one would expect in posing in with the actual places that are depicted. It is also interesting that in the last of the photographs that we see the image of an angel, to represent the artist’s father who had passed on when the photograph was taken. Anusorn Charoensuk’s also had an interactive installation at the fair. It was one in which he invites visitors to have a photograph taken against a backdrop of how he saw Orchard Road (without having actually seen the well-known street). Painted on a zinc sheet, the backdrop shows a building what he is able to identify with the street – that of the tower of Tang Plaza.

Anusorn Charoensuk's "World Tour" taken over a period of five years.

Anusorn Charoensuk’s “World Tour” taken over a period of five years.

An interactive part of Anusorn Charoensuk's installation which he invites visitors to have a photo taken against the backdrop - this one of Orchard Road (which he painted without having actually seen the well-known street).

An interactive part of Anusorn Charoensuk’s installation which he invites visitors to have a photo taken against the backdrop – this one of Orchard Road (which he painted without having actually seen the well-known street).

Moving on to compatriot Maitree Siriboon’s installation, open sacks of rice immediately catches the eye. The installation “Rice is Art” involves 450 kg of rice – given by rice farmers in his home village in the rice-growing Issan region of Thailand. The gift, Maitree says, represents a sacrifice made by the community which is dependent on rice harvests for a living in support of his work. The installation also involves a collection of photographs which shows the support of the rice-growing community for the creation of the installation.

Maitree Siriboon and his sacks of rice.

Maitree Siriboon and his sacks of rice.

Photographs showing the support of the community for Siriboon's efforts.

Photographs showing the support of the community for Siriboon’s efforts.

One Singapore artist whose work we were introduced to was that of Ang Sookoon. The series of works at the fair were ones that looks at items in a domestic space. ” The Waves/Waifs” is one that involves brooms made of blond hair and wood – a reference perhaps to the domesticated nature of women in society. Another piece, “Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold”, sees crystal being grown on another familiar item in a domestic setting, bread. The piece which I most enjoyed, “Weighs Like Mine”, involved a chest of four drawers. The chest is one which encourages the view to interact with it, and in the drawers one will discover what again are familiar scenes in domestic settings.

Ang Sookoon's "Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold".

Ang Sookoon’s “Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold”.

Ang Sookoon's "The Wave/Waifs".

Ang Sookoon’s “The Wave/Waifs”.

Ang Sookoon's "Weighs Like Mine".

Ang Sookoon’s “Weighs Like Mine”.

Following the Southeast Asian Art Tour, I also took the opportunity to take a leisurely look around what is the third edition of Singapore’s largest international arts fair with a focus on fostering Southeast Asia artists and galleries, photographing some of what did catch my eye, not just the installations by themselves – but how visitors and gallery staff viewed and interacted with the works on display some of which follows:

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A world I would love to be trapped in

25 01 2013

One current exhibition that is certainly well worth a visit to is one that is devoted entirely to building bricks most of us would have been familiar with from our childhoods. ‘The Art of The Brick’ at the ArtScience Museum which opened on 17 November 2012 and will run until 14 April 2013, takes visitors into the world of 39 year old Nathan Sawaya, whose life-long obsession with Lego building bricks has seen him abandon his job as an attorney to devote himself to the ‘art of the brick’.

Step into the world of Nathan Sawaya at the ArtScience Museum.

Trapped, one of the brick pieces that offers a look into the world of Nathan Sawaya at the ArtScience Museum. Trapped is inspired by the artist’s feelings of being trapped. Speaking of being trapped – Sawaya’s world is one I certainly wouldn’t mind being trapped in.

I was provided with the opportunity to visit the exhibition recently by good people of the ArtScience Museum. The visit provided me not only with the opportunity to see the artist’s work, but also step into the artist’s own world seen through some of his work which includes both representative brick sculptures as well as one which explore surrealist themes in what is some of the more fascinating pieces. Sawaya’s obsession with what is indeed a very popular and timeless toy we were told began at the age of five. Not being able to get that pet dog he had wanted, Sawaya did the next best thing – he dismantled his Lego city brick set and built a dog with it which he named Boxer.

The entrance to the exhibition. The exhitbition runs until 14 April 2013.

The entrance to the exhibition. The exhitbition runs until 14 April 2013.

Sawaya decided to turn what had in his working years become a means to blow off steam. It was when he realised that his sharing of his hobby on his website brickartist.com was receiving quite a fair bit of attention that he decided to dedicate his life to being a ‘brick artist’ first joining Lego before setting up his own art gallery in New York City.

A giant FaceMask.

A giant FaceMask.

The 52 large-scale brick pieces at the exhibition are displayed across eight galleries. In the first gallery, we are introduced to the artist himself, with several pieces through which Sawaya reveals some of his personal take on himself. The gallery includes several ‘iconic’ pieces including ‘Yellow’ and ‘Swimmer’. My personal favourite among the works in the gallery is Yellow which depicts a human torso tearing its chest open. Thousands of toy bricks can be seen to spill out from the gap. The work represents the artist’s personal metamorphosis and transitions and is said to capture his emotional journey in which the artist opened himself up to the world.

Yellow - which represents Sawaya's personal metamorphosis and transitions, and captures his emotional journey.

Yellow – which represents Sawaya’s personal metamorphosis and transitions, and captures his emotional journey.

Another piece in the Introduction Gallery - 'Hands' which depicts a dream Sawaya had in which he loses his hands.

Another piece in the Introduction Gallery – ‘Hands’ which depicts a dream Sawaya had in which he loses his hands.

The seven other galleries are no less interesting. The next one we come to is the Catwalk Gallery where works are displayed on a runway like platform. Works here that caught my eye were Circle, Triangle, Square and Everlasting. Another interesting gallery is the Portrait Gallery, where there are some familiar faces in 2D – all made again from Lego bricks which I thought was rather amazing. Among the portraits are those of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin. What is interesting to learn about is the approach that the artist takes when creating a 2D portrait is that he starts off with the eyes – after which he says everything falls into place. The choice of colour is also important we are told. Sawaya, despite his talent in creating 2D likenesses of famous personalities with Lego bricks, we are also told, does not like to take on commercial commissions for 2D portraits for fear that he may offend clients should the work not come out right.

Circle, Trangle, Square in the Catwalk Gallery.

Circle, Trangle, Square in the Catwalk Gallery.

Everlasting.

Everlasting.

Close-up of a portrait of Janis Joplin.

Close-up of a portrait of Janis Joplin.

Close-up of a portrait of Bob Dylan.

Close-up of a portrait of Bob Dylan.

And one of Jimi Hendrix.

And one of Jimi Hendrix.

Our very able guide Dina, speaking on Courtney Yellow - a portrait of Sawaya's then girlfriend (and now wife) Courtney Simmons.

Our very able guide Dina, speaking on Courtney Yellow – a portrait of Sawaya’s then girlfriend (and now wife) Courtney Simmons.

Another gallery which I did take my time to look at was The Emotion Box which has pieces all of which seemed to have a deeper meaning in them. Stepping into the gallery one encounters works that are mesmerisingly fascinating such as Mask, Ascension, Grasp and Trapped. There certainly are deeper meanings that one will discover in the works. Ascension depicts the artists desire to ascend to a higher place without experiencing death, whereas, Grasp refers to the many people telling the artist ‘no’ – people he would like to rid his life of.

Mask.

Mask.

Ascension.

Ascension.

Grasp.

Grasp.

One work that will certainly impress is a six metre long one – a T-Rex skeleton at the Art of Play. The last gallery is where you will find a brick sculpture of a familiar sight – that of the ArtScience Museum itself. The piece was specially commissioned by the ArtScience Museum and was created without the artist having actually visited the museum, and purely from 2D images.

The six metre long T-Rex skeleton.

The six metre long T-Rex skeleton.

One of the ArtScience Museum.

One of the ArtScience Museum.

Peace.

Peace.

The exhibition also has several areas which allow visitor interaction, including light and sound displays, a photobooth, a Play and Build area and an area where visitors can attempt to recreate Sawaya’s rain. The exhibtion is open from 10 am to 10 pm daily (last entry is at 9 pm). More information on the exhibition and ticket prices can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

Writer in The Drawing Board gallery.

Writer in The Drawing Board gallery.

Interacting with light.

Interacting with light.

Photobooth.

Photobooth.





The search for love and happiness in Marina Bay’s secret spaces

8 01 2013

It was around midday on the first Sunday of 2013 that I found myself on an exploration of what can be said to be secret spaces around Marina Bay, an exploration which was to lead me and the group I found myself in the company of, to the search for happiness during which I did also find love. It was an exploration of places and spaces in which we might have expected love and happiness to be in short supply including a lawyer’s office and as well as the offices, meeting spaces and even a boardroom and trading floor of one of the world’s largest financial institutions.

The search for happiness ...

The search for happiness.

Secret travelator.

involved a passage on a secret travelator.

A page from Kafka's The Trial ... discovered on the secret travelator.

A page from Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ … found at the secret travelator.

A participant takes a closer look at 'Fragile Structures' - the work of Frayn Yong which involves wireframe like models of structures found around Marina Bay made of mechanical pencil lead.

A participant takes a closer look at ‘Fragile Structures’ – the work of Frayn Yong which involves wireframe like models of structures found around Marina Bay made of mechanical pencil lead.

The search for happiness did lead us to a seemingly happy space – the offices of Google Asia Pacific. There I did momentarily find that elusive emotional state – I was very happy to have a peek into Google’s much talked about working spaces. The goal however was a happy looking abstract art installation, Eeshaun’s ‘The Search for Happiness’, one of several installations awaiting discovery along a rather unique trail, touted as Singapore’s only art walkabout, OH! (or Open House). OH! Marina Bay, The Happiness Index, is the latest edition – three previous sell-out events had some 5,000 strangers taking a look at art installations in real life homes in Niven Rd (2009), Marine Parade (2011) and Tiong Bahru (2012).

Detail of 'The Search for Happiness' - an abstract piece by Eeshaun in the offices of Google Singapore.

Detail of ‘The Search for Happiness’ – an abstract piece by Eeshaun in the offices of Google Singapore.

For OH! Marina Bay, there is a shift from the more personal and intimate spaces that the previous OH!s explored. For the latest edition, participants take a look instead into corporate Singapore. This shift is explained by Alan Oei, the co-founder and curator: “I thought Marina Bay was all office, glass, steel and mirrors. But there is a secret and fascinating life beneath all that. In many ways, one can look at it as manifesting a kind of zeitgeist. It’s a really interesting moment in Singapore now, and the arts should be part of that conversation.”

The corporate offices around the new downtown in Marina Bay is the focus of the latest in a series of OH! events.

The corporate offices around the new downtown in Marina Bay is the focus of the latest in a series of OH! events.

That the arts is part of the conversation, OH! leaves little doubt. OH! Marina Bay features the installations of twelve artists, in very different and exclusive locations. There is a little bonus in that as well as the installations (some of which I could identify with), the walkabout does offer that peek into the ultra modern offices of major financial institutions housed in the glass and steel structures which have risen where the sea once stood – as well as taking participants back some three decades to an office that once housed the practice of renowned architect Tay Kheng Soon, who played a role in shaping the architectural landscape of Singapore back then. The office, now hosts the law practice of Ann Tan and Associates, and does still bear some evidence of Tay’s interventions within its space.

Love broken by a bomb in Deutsche Bank's offices.

Love broken by a bomb in Deutsche Bank’s offices.

It was at the lawyer’s office that one of what I did think was one of the more interesting installations – sound artist Tan Peiling’s ‘And they gathered them together in heaps’ was to be discovered. Set amongst stacks of documents stored in files are the records that perhaps have not been stored – a visual record as well as one of the sounds of the old harbour – once only an earshot away.

Tan Peiling's 'And they gathered them together in heaps' is made up of visual ...

Tan Peiling’s ‘And they gathered them together in heaps’ is made up of visual …

as well as sound records ... in this case sounds of the old harbour which used to be an earshot away.

as well as sound records … in this case sounds of the old harbour which was once only an earshot away.

The installations that to me delighted the most however was Joy Abigail Ho’s lighthearted and interactive piece at the first stop, as well as the tea ladies dancing to the strains of Bengawan Solo entertain also at the first stop. And it is for this as well as the little discoveries along the way that makes OH! Marina Bay worth the two hours spent.

Joy Abigail Ho's work at DBS Asia Central.

Joy Abigail Ho’s interactive piece at DBS Asia Central.

Joy Abigail Ho.

Joy Abigail Ho.

Dancing tea ladies at DBS Asia Centre.

Dancing tea ladies at DBS Asia Centre.

There was a little to discover as well of the area’s development history. Land reclamation which started in the 1970s has shaped much of what we do see today, including the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC). It is from there as well as from the offices visited where we are able have a better appreciation of this, as well as have a peek into the future of the area. Just beyond the MBFC we see a multitude of cranes, cranes which help in the spread of the new downtown southwards on what is now bare reclaimed land. It is also a less known fact that even the area we see as the older part of the financial district centred on Shenton Way, was in fact built on land some of which was reclaimed as far back as the 1880s – the shoreline prior to that had been located at Telok Ayer Street!

OH! Marina Bay besides taking one into the modern glass and steel buildings of key financial players, also offers a glimpse into the past buried in the present.

A view of the past from the modern boardroom of Deutsche Bank. OH! Marina Bay besides taking one into the modern glass and steel buildings of key financial players, also offers a glimpse into the past buried in the present.

It is close to where the walkabout began – at Deutsche Bank’s offices which does offer a great view of the past, the present and perhaps the future from its boardroom, where it ends. It is here where the largest collection of works can be found – including many which is in the bank’s own collection. It is also here where we find love, which takes the form of a love bomb – a bomb like installation with the Chinese word for love on it. There are also some accompanying paintings which spread the message of love on the walls. It is also here where another highlight of the walkabout lies in waiting – a look at the trading floor on the 18th. The trading floor’s location was one selected for its auspicious number we are told.

Participants heading to the 18th Floor - the trading floor of Deutsche Bank where photography is not permitted. The Deutsche Bank mural painted entirely by the bank's staff is seen in the foreground.

Participants heading to the 18th Floor – the trading floor of Deutsche Bank where photography is not permitted. The Deutsche Bank mural painted entirely by the bank’s staff is seen in the foreground.

There are four more days during which you can seek love and happiness in and around some of Marina Bay’s secret spaces. Further runs of OH! Marina Bay will be held on 12, 13, 19 and 20 January 2013. Tickets are $20, and can be bought only at the door from 11am, at DBS Asia Central Branch, Marina Bay Financial Centre, Tower 3, Level 3. Last tours leave at 3pm daily. See http://www.ohopenhouse.com/ for more information.

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A dragon draws breath

3 12 2012

This Chinese year of the dragon is one which has seen a dragon awakened from its slumber. The dragon, the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln, is one of two surviving wood-fired Teochew kilns in Singapore, referred to as dragon kilns as its long semi-circular cross-sectioned chamber resembles the body of the mythical beast, more commonly referred to as ‘snake kilns’ where they originated from in Chaozhou in Guangdong Province in China. One of nine similar kilns found off a stretch of Jurong Road from the 13th to the 17th milestones attracted to the area by the demand for clay latex cups from the area’s rubber plantations, the kiln today is no longer operating commercially – demand for the wares was lost with the disappearance of the rubber plantations, and is kept running by the owner Mr Tan Teck Yoke and his wife Mrs Yulianti Tan purely for their desire to maintain the tradition.

A look into the belly of the dragon - the firing box aglow during a firing of the kiln.

A look into the belly of the dragon – the firing box aglow during a firing of the kiln.

Thow Kwang dragon kiln during the MMarch 2012 firing.

Thow Kwang dragon kiln during the March 2012 firing.

At the height of the demand for latex cups, the dragon would have found it had to keep its breath. Fired four times a month, work in and around the kiln would have gone on continuously – the actual firing done over a 24 hour period, after which the kilns would be left for up to a week to cool, unpacked and repacked for the next cycle. As demand fell in the 1980s, the surviving kilns turned to the production of flower pots but unfortunately demand for that also fell off and by the 1990s, most of the dragons seemed to have drawn a last breath with most disappearing with the wave of urbanisation that had swept across the area at the end of the 1980s and during the early 1990s.

Feeding the fire - firing is now done twice a year on the average where in its heyday, the kiln would have been fired up to four times a month and work in and around it went on very much around the clock.

Feeding the fire – firing is now done twice a year on the average where in its heyday, the kiln would have been fired up to four times a month and work in and around it went on very much around the clock.

One of two kilns still left at the end of the 1990s – the other being the former Guan Huat kiln next door, it wasn’t until the mid 2000s approached that interest in the kiln was revived – firings to support a local community of clay potters restarted in 2003. In the case of the former Guan Huat kiln, it became part of the Singapore Tourism Board funded Jalan Bahar Clay Studios at which firings recommenced in 2004. Firings now take place on the average of twice a year, when sufficient quantities of clay pieces do accumulate and are now occasions for the artists’ communities to celebrate as well as providing the artists and the kiln operators with an opportunity to further their understanding and to document the process and results (not much has previously been documented on the kiln firing process).

The kiln now supports a community of clay potters. Clay pieces are seen stacked on a kiln shelf prior to firing. Pyrometric cones used to determine temperature from previous firings are shown - the temperature at which the cones are rated at is reached when the cone bends fully.

The kiln now supports a community of clay potters. Clay pieces are seen stacked on a kiln shelf prior to firing. Pyrometric cones used to determine temperature from previous firings are shown – the temperature at which the cones are rated at is reached when the cone bends fully.

I was presented with an opportunity to observe the preparations and as the firing at Thow Kwang in March 2012 (the kiln has subsequent to the March firing, been fired twice, the latest being on 30 November). The kiln, built in the 1940s, was bought over by Mr Tan’s father in 1965. The kiln has seventeen stoke holes, used to feed the fire through each intermediate area of the chamber. In the past, all seventeen would have been used. During the firing in March only six were used during the March firing.

The firing session provides an opportunity to observe the preparations in the lead up to the firing as well as the firing itself. Firing commences after prayers to the kiln god are offered. Offerings are placed on an altar on top of the firing box.

The firing session provides an opportunity to observe the preparations in the lead up to the firing as well as the firing itself. Firing commences after prayers to the kiln god are offered. Offerings are placed on an altar on top of the firing box.

Preparations start with the rush by the potters to complete their clay pieces. It is in the week before the firing that a frenzy starts at the kiln site with work to set up and pack the kiln shelves in the chamber of the kiln. The shelves need to be carefully arranged in the chamber. Placed in the areas between the stoke holes, wadding or balls of clay used to support clay pieces on the shelves, are dropped from the stoke holes to help in determining if the correct placement. Clay pieces are then stacked on the shelves, with each piece is supported on cockle shells or wadding to prevent them from fusing to the shelves. Once stacking is completed, the access openings to the chamber are sealed with bricks and clay.

A kiln shelf stacked prior to firing.

A kiln shelf stacked prior to firing.

Each firing session starts with prayers to the kiln god during which offerings are placed on an altar above the firing box. Wood is fed over a better part of the day into the firing box, located at the bottom end of the kiln, to bring the temperature up to the desired temperature of 1260 degrees Celcius. Where the temperature had traditionally been determined through observation of the colour of the flames in the chamber, temperature sensors and pyrometric cones now help in doing this.

A pyrometric cone seen through a stoke hole bends in the heat.

A pyrometric cone seen through a stoke hole bends in the heat.

The feeding of wood into the fire is very much a manual task – the artists to take turns at it. The effort is one that the artists feel is rewarded by the finishing that only a wood firing is able to give to a clay piece. The resulting uneven (and unpredictable) glaze, achieved by a mix of salt (thrown into the stoke holes) and wood ash only on the windward side of the pieces, does give the wood-fired clay pieces each a unique appearance.

Feeding the fire through a stoke hole.

Feeding the fire through a stoke hole.

When the temperature at the firing box does reach the 1260 degrees, its openings are closed. The feeding of wood is then transferred to the first stoke hole and moved to the next to bring the fire up the chamber – the process repeated until the required section of the chamber has been fired. The length of the firing session does depend very much on the effects that are desired, now that it is carried out for artistic pieces. The session in March went on for some 36 hours before the kiln was left to cool for about a week. The unpredictable nature of wood firing does carry risks of damage to the artwork and during the March firing, the first shelf collapsed with several large clay pots falling and breaking.

Flames seen passing through an opening hole (for inserting a temperature sensor) on a covered stoke hole.

Flames seen passing through an opening hole (for inserting a temperature sensor) on a covered stoke hole.

Pieces from a collapsed shelf seen through the firing box.

Pieces from a collapsed shelf seen through the firing box.

While the motivation to keep the kiln going is one of a desire to preserve history and tradition, it is a tradition that is under threat. The future for the kiln looks rather bleak – its current lease expires in 2014 and with developments in the area – a CleanTech Park built by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) in the area is fast taking shape, it may be that this old dragon of Jalan Bahar, may well have drawn the last of its breaths.

An unevenly glazed clay piece from the March firing.

An unevenly glazed clay piece from the March firing.

A piece that was supported by a cockle shell bearing the mark of the support.

A piece that was supported by a cockle shell bearing the mark of the support.





Chairs and nudity at the Traffic Police HQ

28 05 2012

For many in my generation, mention the Traffic Police HQ, and Maxwell Road immediately comes to mind. That was of course a long time ago and traffic cops that have long been be associated with what must certainly be a wonderful work of architecture along Maxwell Road have since moved away. The building which housed the HQ now sees a second life as the Red Dot Design Museum and on Wednesday evening, it played host to an event that featured 35 chairs – specially designed Louis Arm Chairs. And where, one may wonder, does nudity come into all this? We didn’t have to look far – that came in the form of Linda Black, who co-hosted the event with her husband Oli Pettigrew. It wasn’t that she hosted the event unclothed (she did remark that the guests of the event would probably have been disappointed to see she had her clothes on) – she appeared in the buff to portray the Venus of Botticelli’s famous masterpiece for one of a series of publicity posters for the cause for which the event was held. The posters also included those of several well-known celebrities, including US actor and DJ Bobby Tonelli, who also appeared in the nude to portray Rodin’s The Thinker.

Linda Black’s depiction of Venus.

And Bobby Tonelli as The Thinker.

The nudity was all in good taste of course – and all for a good cause – CHAIRITY Arts & Design Against Cancer. A collaborative platform for artists and designers to express their interpretation of Cancer onto a piece of classical European furniture – the Louis Arm Chair, CHAIRITY, which is supported by the Singapore Cancer Society, aims to raise funds through its artworks to support cancer patients as well as to increase the level of awareness of cancer. This, along with the artistic effort in the form of the chairs created, were unveiled at the event, which was graced by several distinguished guests including former President of Singapore, S R Nathan. Also at the event was CHAIRITY’s founder, Imis Iskandar, who made an emotional speech during which he revealed that it was his father’s fight against cancer that motivated him to start the cause together with his partner in BACK REST, Gary Ng.

Former President S R Nathan was at the event to lend his support to the launch of CHAIRITY.

In his speech, Imis paid a glowing tribute to his father, who despite being very ill, was able to make the event. Imis also explained how he came to the idea of using a chair as an art piece for the cause. Having been very much connected with furniture making – Imis’ father was a furniture maker and BACK REST is very much involved in the trade, he thought of using something that he well knew that – a commonly used item of furniture that most don’t take much notice of – unless of course the item has very distinguishing characteristics. Imis felt that the chair, as such, was very representative of cancer as a disease. Cancer which although is all around us – a number one killer in many parts of the world and can affect anyone and bring pain and suffering to them as well as their families, is a disease most of us do not realise is there until it strikes someone close to us – very much like how the chair is seen by Imis.

One of the eye-catching chairs – “Heart Mosaic” by Wong Renzhi of St. Andrew’s School.

Some 30 Singaporean based artists were involved in the effort in which they transformed a Louis Arm Chair to provide their interpretation of the disease. The artists behind includes a number of personalities including Linda Black herself who designed a chair in a homage to her grandmother, Margaret Pearl Vogt Webster, who passed away from cancer some 20 years back. There were several eye-catching designs – including one by Tan Haur called “This is not a chair” which had some hearts that replaced stars on the back rest that resembled the Singapore flag – stars inspired by the stars that were stuck on to reward good work in school which the artist felt could be turned into love and care in education.

Linda Black with S R Nathan next to the chair she designed in homage to her grandmother who was a cancer victim.

Tan Haur’s “This is not a chair”.

There was also time at the event for two surprises to be sprung – one came in the form of surrealist Rosihan painting a chair live to open the event, the other came in the form of the beautiful voice of an 11 year-old naturalised Singaporean, Miguel Antonio, who has been described as having the “Voice of an Angel”.

Rosihan painting a chair live …

“Voice of an angel” – 11 year old Miguel Antonio.

Miguel Antonio with former President, S R Nathan.

More information for CHAIRITY can be found at the CHAIRITY Facebook Page and also at the blog site of photographer Maryann Koh of The Studio Loft, who did the shoot for the publicity material and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the event. The 35 chairs, many of which have already received pledges for, will be back at the Red Dot Design Museum for a Public Exhibition on Friday 1 June 2012 (one day only) at the Market of Artists and Designers (MAAD). The exhibition will be open from 5 pm to midnight.

The artists posing for a photograph with S R Nathan and the good people behind CHARITY.

Didier Ng’s “I miss grandma’.








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