Strange Horizons: seeing the future

29 05 2014

The future world does seem to have arrived in Singapore. Rising out of what used to be the old harbour is a new world, the seeds of which were really sown at the end of the 1960s. It was in 1967 that Singapore embarked on the State and City Planning Project (SCP) in 1967 with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme’s special assistance scheme for urban renewal and development for emerging nations. 

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The SCP completed in 1971, identified the need for a coastal highway to divert traffic out of the city, requiring land to be reclaimed for what was to be the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. It was with this that the planners recognised that there was benefit in further reclamation of land to provide land for the city’s expansion south, land on which a new downtown is now, some four decades after the initial reclamation commenced, in the process of being built.

Among the first structures rising in the new world are several that have since become one of the most photographed and recognisable structures in Singapore including the Sky Park topped hotel towers and lotus flower inspired ArtScience Museum of Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands integrated resort complex (2010) and the Supertrees and cooled conservatories of the Gardens by the Bay  (2012) that is seen in the above photograph, which was taken across what today is a fresh water channel of water at the Bay East garden of the Gardens by the Bay.





Annie Leibovitz at the ArtScience Museum

19 04 2014

On now at the ArtScience Museum is Annie Leibovitz – A Photographer’s Life, 1990 – 2005, a retrospective showcase featuring some 200 works of celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz. The exhibition, which made its debut in Brooklyn in 2006, offers visitors a glimpse not just at works that will instantly be recognisable, but also right into the personal side of Ms. Leibovitz’s life with many portraits of the people who she had been close to.

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum.

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum.

It is the people who are close to you – staying close to home, that Ms Leibovitz advises photographers to do. It was one of several insights provided by her as she brought guests on a preview of her exhibition earlier this week, during which she spoke not only about some of the famous images such as that of the pregnant Demi Moore, but also about what is found in some of her more personal work. It is from this personal side that we were to discover her favourite is from – a photograph she took of her mother, an unsmiling portrait of which her father was initially rather critical of.

Annie Leibovitz on her favourite photograph - an unsmiling portrait that she took of her mother.

Annie Leibovitz on her favourite photograph – an unsmiling portrait that she took of her mother.

A rather interesting story that Ms Leibovitz did share was of  infamous portraits that she took of Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 – a commission she got some 5 years after she had first written to the British monarch’s press secretary for an unrelated shoot. The press secretary had remembered the letter when on the look out for an American photographer to take portraits of the Queen in the lead up to an intended visit to the US – which Ms. Leibovitz does say can be a lesson in perseverance. The shoot during which the Queen wasn’t apparently in the best of moods, did in the eyes of Ms Leibovitz, show the sense of duty that the Queen did have.

Annie Leibovitz on her portrait of the Queen.

Annie Leibovitz on her portrait of the Queen.

Annie Leibovitz – A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005, which has toured the US, Europe, Sydney, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sydney and Seoul, will be on at the ArtScience Museum from 18 April until 19 October 2014. More information on the exhibition and on ticketing can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s site.

Many instantly recognisable works of Ms. Leibovitz are on display.

Many instantly recognisable works of Ms. Leibovitz are on display.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the ArtScience Museum will be running a series of Portraiture Photography courses starting in June 2014. The courses aim to offer enthusiasts with a keen interest in portraiture photography a better understanding of the techniques and approaches to capturing the portraits. The courses, over seven weekends from June to October 2014, will be conducted by Steven Yee, a trainer with Knowledge Bowl Training and Consultancy and are priced at S$200 per course, booking for which can be made from 23 April 2014 through all Marina Bay Sands ticketing channels:

  • Course 1: Portrait photography using available lighting and artificial lighting [14 and 15 June; 13 and 14 September]
  • Course 2: Candid and formal portrait photography [28 and 29 June; 27 and 28 September]
  • Course 3: On location styling (lighting, make-up, styling, posing) [16 and 17 August]
  • Course 4: Documentary portraiture (informal photography in settings) [12 and 13 July; 18 and 19 October]

 

 

 

Annie Leibovitz at the ArtScience Museum

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A walk 600 million years back in time

24 01 2014

What promises to be huge not just from a perspective of the size of its exhibits, the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction exhibition will open this Saturday 25 January 2014 at the ArtScience Museum. The museum at Marina Bay Sands has once again outdone itself in bringing to Singapore an impressively well curated exhibition that provides not just a visual feast, but also one that provides an immersive and stimulating experience.

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Along the walkway.

Along the walkway.

From a media preview of the exhibition yesterday I was privileged to have been invited to, I was transported back not just to the age of the dinosaurs that the exhibition aims to take the visitor to, but also to my days of fascination as a child with the huge creatures that once dominated the earth. With some than 400 fossils and models, the scale of the exhibition is particularly impressive as is the content it provides the visitor.

Exhibits include coprolites - fossilised 'droppings' that provide insights into diets.

Exhibits include coprolites – fossilised ‘droppings’ that provide insights into diets.

Coprolites exhibited strategically outside the washrooms.

Coprolites exhibited strategically outside the washrooms.

Curated by world renowned paleontologist, Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich, who did admit to not having that childhood fascination with dinosaurs at yesterday’s preview that most would have assumed she would have had, the ArtScience Museum’s exhibition does actually bring together exhibits from the collections of four different exhibitions. The four collections are from the American Museum of Natural History, San Juan National Science Museum, SCI! Expo at Monash University and artist Peter Trusler.

Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich at the media preview.

Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich at the media preview.

The exhibition is spread out over eight galleries in the museum’s basement, occupying a floor area of over 3,700 square metres is the largest exhibition there to date. It takes the visitor back not just to the age of the dinosaurs, but also to the dawn of life some 600 million years ago in the Precambrian age. This however is not before the visitor is first given an impression of the scale of the dinosaurs along the walkway to the exhibition’s entrance and being welcomed, by sound and then sight to dinner – as food for a herd of or rather four of their fossils,  upon entry.

Visitors can appreciate the scale of the larger dinosaurs along the walkway to the entrance.

Visitors can appreciate the scale of the larger dinosaurs along the walkway to the entrance.

One from herd of Herrerasaurus that greets visitors at the exhibition's entrance.

One from herd of Herrerasaurus that greets visitors at the exhibition’s entrance.

The Precambrian gallery.

The Precambrian gallery.

Beside the many imposing recreations of dinosaurs and their skeletons spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the highlight for me was being able to go up close to real fossils – one of which is a newly discovered fossil of an, uncovered in Argentina as recently as in September 2013. Dr Vickers-Rich was keen to also stress that it is rare that a newly discovered fossil such as this, is allowed to be moved out of its country, and visitors to the exhibition will have the privilege of seeing this (as well several other never exhibited fossils) on display for the first time.

The recently dsicovered fossil of the Adeopapposaurs.

The recently dsicovered fossil of the Adeopapposaurs.

Beside the many imposing recreations of dinosaurs and their skeletons spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the highlight for me was being able to go up close to real fossils – one of which is a newly discovered fossil of an Adeopapposaurs, uncovered in Argentina as recently as in September 2013. Dr Vickers-Rich was keen to also stress that it is rare that a newly discovered fossil such as this, is allowed to be moved out of its country, and visitors to the exhibition will have the privilege of seeing this (as well several other never exhibited fossils) on display for the first time. Visually, I also enjoyed a diorama in the Chapter 5 gallery, Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, of the American Museum of Natural History section – a recreation of the Liaoning forest, which also provides an insight to the various extinction theories.

The Liaoning forest diorama.

The Liaoning forest diorama.

Visitors can also look forward to a host of programmes and activities being held in conjunction with the exhibition including the opportunity to meet and hear from Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich and other experts over the opening weekend (25-26 January 2014) – see below.

Very small dinosaurs such as this model of the skeleton of a foot long Chaliminia can also be seen.

Very small dinosaurs such as this model of the skeleton of a foot long Chaliminia can also be seen.

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Those intending to visit the exhibition can also download a free mobile application designed by the museum to  deepen the engagement and enhance visitor experience. The ‘Dawn2Extinction’ app is available in English and Simplified Chinese and features augmented reality experiences, animation and interactive games. The app is available for download now on iPhone 4 and 5, iPod touch, and Android phones.

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The exhibition runs from  25 January to 27 July 2014. More information and ticketing details can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

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Opening weekend activities:

Special Guided Tours

(25 and 26 January 2014; 12:30pm, 1.30pm and 4:30pm; beginning at the first gallery of Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction)

Embark on a guided tour to explore the living habits of dinosaurs and be introduced to the extraordinary creatures that roamed the earth. Gain insight into how the paintings of dinosaurs and their surroundings displayed at the exhibition were reconstructed through leveraging scientific evidence.

Exhibition Talk – The Paleontological Camera

(25 January 2014; 2.30pm to 4pm; held at Expression Gallery, Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Curator Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich and artist Peter Trusler talk about their collaboration to bring to life visuals from as far back as 600 million years ago through their “paleontological camera”.

Exhibition Talk – The Origins of Dinosaurs

(25 January 2014; 5.30pm to 6.30pm; held at Expression Gallery, Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Learn about the fascinating origins of dinosaurs through an illustrated talk presented by Dr. Oscar Alcober, Director of San

Programmes/Workshops:

Shadow Puppets Alive!

Visitors can try their hands at creating their own Bullockornis or Megalania shadow puppet to bring home.

A day in the life of a Paleontologist

Visitors who aspire to be or wish to understand the work of a paleontologist can take part in a hands-on demonstration. During the demonstration, members of the audience will have numerous opportunities to participate, including handling tools and specimens, cleaning fossils, identifying bones and making a plaster cast from a dinosaur’s footprint

Stop Motion Dinosaur Wipe-out!

Film and dinosaur enthusiasts can create their own stop motion animation based on one of the main theories of mass dinosaur extinction: asteroid impact, climate change or volcanic eruptions.

Dinosaur Tale

Presented by local puppet theatre company, Paper Monkey Theatre, visitors will be taken on a journey of how animal life adapted over 600 million years, presented through magical puppetry.

Sketch-a-fossil

A drawing workshop conducted by Isabelle Desjeux, a scientist turned artist, who brings fossils to life by having visitors draw them in detail and placing the art piece in a pre-historic landscape.

Sculpture Fun

Visitors can try their hands at carving their own sculpted fossil, be it a shell or bone, out of soap to bring home.






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:






The Feast of Fools

24 12 2013

A scene that is one of several that celebrates the musical Notre Dame de Paris, currently playing at the MBS MasterCard Theatres, is possibly The Feast of Fools. Accompanied by the confused frenzy of movement, it is at this point that sees the introduction of Quasimodo, the well-known character of the tale behind the musical many would be familiar with from their childhoods, who in the scene is crowned the King of Fools.

Belle, one of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical.

One of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical, during which the popular song, Belle, was sung. The musical features Matt Laurent as Quasimodo (L) and Alssandra Ferrari (R) as Esmeralda.

It is not the Quasimodo that in the wake of Disney’s retelling of Victor Hugo’s novel that many would recognise. The same can unfortunately be said of the storyline or the lack of it in its musical version. Except for a few popular music numbers such as Belle, it would probably be better remembered for what has to be said, was a impressive display of dance.

Another scene shown during the preview - Refugees - which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Another scene shown during the preview – Refugees – which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Certainly for me, the musical did not quite live up to the hype that surrounds it. Whatever my impressions are, the musical is still quite a watchable one and certainly one that does provide some entertainment value – that is if you need some extra to distract you this Christmas season. The musical, which opened on 17 December 2013, will see its run in Singapore extended to 11 January 2014. For more information and also for ticketing, do visit the Marina Bay Sand’s page for the musical, or the SISTIC website.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.


More on the musical (from a press release from its Singapore opening):

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Singapore – 17 December 2013 – The musical spectacular Notre Dame de Paris, which has become a phenomenon around the world cutting across generations, opens tonight at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, Grand Theatre. Performed for the first time in Singapore in English this majestical show tells the story of Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Esmeralda the Gypsy girl, in one of the most powerful love stories in history on par with Romeo and Juliet.

Since premiering in Paris, France in September 1998, the musical has attracted audiences of more than 4 million in France alone and broken box office records in Canada, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and South Korea surpassing 10 million spectators while combined sales of soundtrack and cast albums have reached the 10 million mark.

Notre Dame de Paris has been staged over 4000 times in 20 other countries, including Italy, Great Britain and the United States, receiving standing ovations every night.

Faithful to Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre Dame de Paris, the show tells the emotionally charged story of the unfortunate Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral Bell Ringer, the hunchback Quasimodo, and his hopeless devotion for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. Phoebus, the untruthful soldier and Frollo, the priest torn between his faith to God and his desires will compete for Esmeralda’s love. While Clopin, the leader of the refugees or underclass, and Gringoire the poet will try to save Esmeralda.

The musical spectacular is the creation of lyricist Luc Plamondon and composer Richard Cocciante, whom have both won numerous awards for their work and is directed by Gilles Maheu. The English lyrics were written by Will Jennings, Oscar-winner for “My heart Will Go On” from the smash-hit film Titanic.

“It’s a well-known story which stands up on its own and doesn’t need to be explained. That’s why there are at least a dozen films based on the Victor Hugo novel, from the silent era to the recent Disney animation,” said Luc Plamandon.

Reminiscent of The Beauty and the Beast and presaging The Phantom of the Opera, Notre Dame de Paris remains a poignant and powerful myth with some of the interwoven storylines being more relevant today than ever: asylum-seekers, racism, the role of religion, the fear of the unknown and man’s place in an ever-changing world.

Riccardo Cocciante beautiful melodies will leave a long lasting impression on local  audiences. Featuring more than 54 vivid arias of operatic beauty and rock resonance, the characters are brought to life through stunning vocal performances and visual spectacle – courtesy of the show’s seven principal artistes and 24 dancers and acrobats.

The show will feature acrobatic contemporary dance choreography by Martino Muller, renowned modern dance visionary, contrasting with a beautiful love story moments to create an audience experience reminiscent of French cirque. Dancers appear to be flying across the stage under fantastic arcs, freely incorporating gymnastics, contemporary and even break dance moves into their repertoire – at one moment whirling across the floor in a series of pirouettes, and the next tumbling from a bungee rope high above the stage.

The show will be presented on a grand scale at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. The modern impressionistic stage set features a 12 metre high ‘climbing wall’ representing the façade of the grand cathedral of Notre Dame as well as the famous Bastille prison in Paris. This amazing edifice is also the platform for a series of stunning acrobatic routines that will leave the audience breathless.

Notre Dame de Paris, the musical spectacular, stands out because of the masterful staging and artistic integrity of director Gilles Maheu, who has revived the 170-year old story with contemporary touches and deft inspiration incorporating choreographies by Martino Muller and costumes designed by Fred Sathal and set by Christian Ratz.

The English language album, featuring the main stars of the London production, also features guest star Celine Dion singing “Live for the One I Love”.
Hit musical, rock-show, opera, concept-album or gothic melodrama, Notre-Dame de Paris retains traditional theatrical elements while using modern staging techniques and choreography to present eternal, universal, mythical tales and themes.

About Notre Dame de Paris

  • First opened at ‘Palais des Congres’ theatre in Paris in September 1998
  • Based on the novel ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ written by Victor Hugo in 1831
  • Sell-out tours in France, Canada, England, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, America, Italy, Monaco
  • 4000 performances over 20 countries and seen by more than 10 million people.
  • The most sensational and successful musical in France, Italy, Belgium and Russia
  • Taking Europe by storm, “Notre Dame de Paris’ opened in London at the Dominion Theatre on 23 May 2000, following previews which opened on 15 May 2000.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, Notre Dame de Paris still holds the record as the show with the most successful first year of any musical ever produced.

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Free admission to Essential Eames at the ArtScience Museum this weekend!

8 08 2013

Marina Bay Sands celebrates National Day weekend with free admission to Essential Eames

More on the exhibition, Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition  – Essentially Eames

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Marina Bay Sands will commemorate Singapore’s 48th birthday by offering free admission to its newest exhibition at ArtScience Museum from Friday, 9 August till Sunday, 11 August.  Over this National Day weekend, the admission price for Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition, will be waived for all visitors.  The daily operating hours for ArtScience Museum are 10am-10pm.

 “We’re pleased to extend this special offer to ring in National Day,” said ArtScience Museum Associate Director Ross Leo.  “Whether it’s the first time visiting our latest exhibition or a return trip to see it again, this is an experience not to be missed – and an opportunity we’re excited to make available.  We look forward to welcoming all visitors to ArtScience Museum this National Day weekend.”

The Essential Eames exhibition brings to life the story of design duo Charles and Ray Eames through over 100 of their works and images culled from the collections of the Eames family, Eames Office, and Herman Miller.  The exhibition showcases a number of rare and never-before-seen works and images. Highlights include a special chair designed for Pope John Paul II; the fun and educational toy House of Cards and groundbreaking films including ‘Glimpses of the USA’ and ‘Powers of Ten’.

Over the long National Day weekend, visitors to Marina Bay Sands can also look forward to an array of entertainment, leisure and dining options on property. All 300 boutiques and restaurants at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands will also be operating from 10am until midnight from 7-10 August – perfect for late-night shoppers and party-goers.

The iconic property also offers many great vantage points to view all the action from the National Day Parade on 9 August.

 The Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, located on the 57th storey of the hotel, offers an exceptional view for the public who wish to catch the fighter jets and state flag fly past, complete with fireworks display. One can also simply soak up the festivities at the outdoor Event Plaza, which offers another vantage point to view the fireworks up close while dining along the waterfront promenade.





Reflections on Marina Bay

3 06 2013

For me, the story of Singapore is very a reflection of the way in which what we call Marina Bay today, has been transformed. Once the harbour at the heart of Singapore’s early success, the bay, like it or hate it, is today a magnificent sight to behold – particularly at certain times of the day, and a celebration of the tremendous strides Singapore has taken as a nation since the tumultuous events which surrounded a somewhat reluctantly achieved independence.

Marina Bay seen through the light rain at 6.30 am on 2 June 2013.

Marina Bay seen through the drama of the rain coloured scene at first light (photograph taken at 6.30 am on 2 June 2013).

The so-called bay itself (now a fresh water reservoir) and the developments that have taken root around it, was an afterthought made possible by massive land reclamation works which were started in the early 1970s – initially to provide land for a road which would bypass the already congested city (more information on which can be found in a previous post “The Making of Marina Bay“). While it did result in the disappearance of the old harbour – one of the things which did make Singapore, Singapore, it did provide new land for development. It is perhaps because of this, it became possible to widen the scope for conservation of Singapore’s built heritage, particularly in areas of the old city such as in the Tanjong Pagar / Chinatown area and other areas which had previously been earmarked for redevelopment .








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