By now, the Singapore Bicentennial is in full swing. Art exhibitions and festivals are taking the chance to explore the untold stories of the country: from the forgotten bits of culture to unsavoury histories. But more still can, and must, be done.
Yesterday, former Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim sounded out the need to address the scars left behind by colonialism during the Budget 2019 debate. While the Bicentennial marks the 200 years of change since the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, much has to be addressed of the histories in the region and spiteful myths that have persisted since.
In the meantime, local exhibitions take a look at more current events, bringing light to Singapore’s resettlement projects of the latest 20th century and the lesser-known local transsexual community to emotional effect. Here’s what else to explore this month.
(Hero image – David Yarrow, featured image – Elodie Chandernagor)
After Art Stage’s cancellation, several artists missed out golden opportunities to debut works created for the art fair. Thankfully, two local galleries, Coda Culture and Your Mother Gallery, have banded together to create an alternative exhibition for these works to finally see the light of day. Called Backstage, the exhibition will showcase pieces from 27 local and international artists at the Stamford Art Centre. It’s not on the same scale as Art Stage, but we appreciate the heartening support within the local art community.
(Image - Art Stage Singapore)
First Storeys, an interactive exhibition, explores the untold stories of resettlement projects of the 1950s - 1990s in Singapore. Staged in the former Bukit Ho Swee Community Center, audience members are led through installations varying from theatrical performances to art galleries. The exhibition follows the plans enacted by the fictional Singapore Housing Improvement Trust (inspired from the actual Singapore Improvement Trust), resurfacing the details of resettlement proceedings and how residents are affected by circumstances.
French artist Elodie Chandernagor explores the illusion of self and the human body with her with her latest solo exhibition at UltraSuperNew Gallery. The Singapore-based photographer moulds different mediums such as paint and sculpture to create multi-dimensional, colourful pictures. Through these, she questions her identity within and without the art world and at the same time encourages the audience to become more sources of inspirations than just spectators of art.
(Image - Elodie Chandernagor)
In the second edition of ArtxTechforGood, arts organisation The MeshMinds Foundation explores the way both art and technology can come together to create positive changes in today’s environmental and societal challenges. The exhibition features more than 20 multi-sensory art experiences created by local artists, weaving in augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Immersive works include exploring a virtual human stomach to follow the trail of microplastics or holding the gaze of a virtual person to take a stand against deforestation.
(Image - The MeshMinds Foundation)
Award-winning fine-art photographer David Yarrow makes his Singapore debut, featuring his famous monochromatic photographs of endangered wildlife. The exhibition sees pictures he has taken around Africa and other remote locations as well as his iconic series with Cara Delevingne. Also here are prints of Yarrow’s recently completed project with supermodel Cindy Crawford -- exclusively available only at Miaja Art Collections.
(Image - David Yarrow)
(Un)bound is a collaborative project led by local photographer Grace Baey sharing an intimate view into the lives of trans men and women living in Singapore. Topics that are rarely discussed in Singapore are now given human faces, through subjects Sonia Pravinaa, Jose Jude, Deveshwar Sham and Cassandra Thng. Alongside portraits, the exhibition documents the personal journal entries made by Baey's characters reflect on experiences of struggle, resilience, and coping strategies amidst the challenges of dealing with gender norms in society.
(Image - Grace Baey)