Open House – Singapore Biennale 2011 #3

June 17, 2011 at 11:45 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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A note from Itchyfingers: This post is late by a month cos Itchyfingers only got to visit it during the Museum’s Open House in May, which happened to be the second last day of the Singapore Biennale 2011. At that time, we were tied up with work and we also wanted to continue with our New Zealand travel postings. But looking at the photos now, Itchyfingers find it still worth writing about, especially for those who did not have a chance to visit…. 8)

Itchyfingers visited the Singapore Biennale at 8Q and the Singapore Art Museum last month during its Open House. Concidentally, the theme of the Biennale was also “Open House”. We didn’t visit all the exhibits cos of time constraint but there were a few works which caught on the theme quite successfully.

The first installation we saw was this, titled, “Rumah Sulaiman Belakang Kedai Ah Guat” (House of Sulaiman Behind Ah Guat’s Shop) by Susyilawati (Shooshie) Sulaiman.

The artists explored the interrelations of identity, memory and history in her
home country of Malaysia by setting up this space based on buildings that
have personal significance for her. By “opening up” this “house” to visitors,
she invites visitors to a chance of a glimpse into her memories and experiences
through related drawings, collages and videos

An old electricity meter hung on the wooden wall…

I have always thought I am a super karang guni, a malay term for rag-and-bone man, because I like to keep junks…and I have the habit of keeping interesting newspaper cuttings…hahah..But after visiting this exhibit, I think the artist certainly deserves this ‘honorary title” more than anyone…hahah…

Enter the room and you see stacks and stacks of old and yellowed newspapers!
Just the newspaper cuttings alone have all walls filled up!

Koh Nguang How is an artist, archivist, and curator who has been documenting and collecting materials relating to contemporary art in Singapore since the late 1980s.

I like this corner the most cos it looked like some really old secondhand
book stores… 

Drawing from the extensive collection that swamps his HDB flat, and a trove of art news clipped from Singapore’s English and Chinese language newspapers, the artist sets up within the gallery an active archival laboratory that replicates the configuration of his apartment. Titled, “Artist in the News”, the project merges personal research, private space, and public enquiry.

Wow…he collects not just articles, but the whole section…

I think the artist also collects anything that interests him cos these were not
art related. He has the news of the passing of Ah Meng, our most famous
Orang Utan! Remember Itchyfingers wrote about this after we attended
the wake at the zoo? I also have this cut out! And the Clouded Leopard
article too… :p

The last thing when you visit someone’s house is to check out what they have in their fridge. Artist Roslisham Ismail aka Ise’s “Secret Affair” came out after numerous research period spent with six diverse Singaporean families, with a focus on how they think about buying, cooking and eating food. So what’s the result of his research?

Six refrigerators with contents drawn from each family stood in the gallery….

Visitors were encouraged to break the taboo of opening someone’s fridge for
a glimpse into the lifestyles and habits of their owners…and
 it was indeed
tempting to wanna take and sample the content inside! Hahahah….
when it was such a hot ice cool drink will be great…hahah 

Since the theme was “Open House”, many artists seems to like to show a collection of work or objects, as shown above, or as follows…

Some old labels collection…

Here, artist Matt Mullican showed off his collection of drawings and collages
installed on bedsheets, forming maze-like corridors. There was also group of
bulletin boards accumulations of drawings and images that were produced 
over the last three decades. Er, like that can I exhibit my scrapbook pages??

Then there was also these glass cabinet displays of books…er…why exhibit
books unless you were the ones who designed them?? Er, later I read that 
the artist actually “cuts circles into the pages of childrens’ books and art magazine
and rotates or replaces them to create new potential readings”…Wow…
obviously it didn’t catch our attention…

This was housed in the glass display window at 8Q. Titled, “Slow & Steady”,
it depicts the human struggle with what the artist described as “mind-numbing
daily routines” and expectations from society. The “si bay sian”, or dead pan facial
expressions of these monochromatic characters showed the lack of souls and
boredom going through a life without aspirations…

The artist, Speak Cryptic

Over at the Art Museum were lesser pieces of works for the Biennale. One of these belonged to Louie Cordero, whose work “reflected a particularly Filipino syncretism, which included indigenous traditions, Spanish Catholicism and American popular culture, coming out of a long and often violent history of colonialism.”

Inspired by the recent spat of murders of people, his installation had people
with monsterous and graphically wounded bodies, blend visceral gore with
seductively brilliant color – a highly personal, idiosyncratic take on a chaotic
world. Tisu Boy commented that he looked like one of our local Malay actor…

All sorts of daily household objects turned into killing weapons…

Help me….!

Didn’t catch the title of this work, but it was simple yet beautiful; with rows
of light bulbs hung on a metal rod mechanically swung to hit on mirrors
placed on the ground, hence producing a nice rhythmic tune

Titled, “Flying Angels” by Heri Dono, these Thai-inspired wooden puppets
hung from the ceiling of the stairway

Three huge pairs of wings sat in the gallery drew much attention. Titled,
“Wings, 2009” by Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, these wings were made 
with rubber thongs collected from the Singapore Prisons

If this sounded familiar, it was because they were the same artists who collected rubber thongs for their work, “Flight”, an outdoor installation of 4,000 slippers perched on bamboo poles in the last Singapore Biennale 2008

Remember this on our previous post?

The husband and wife team’s art “centers on issues of community,
temporality, memory and identity. The artists characteristically work in a
two-step system when creating their art. First, is the process of collecting
personal objects and devising the necessary framework for them. Second, is
to use these objects collectively and display them as a manifestation of
cumulative histories and a show of shared experiences.” See, there were
identification numbers visible on the straps…

As a whole, Itchyfingers felt that the 2011 edition of the Singapore Biennale was still worth visiting though the works were not as interesting as the previous one. We hope the next Biennale will be an improved one with more interesting and thought-provoking artworks!

Also see related posts:
> Biennale @ Kallang – Singapore Biennale 2011 #2
Taking off at Kallang – Singapore Biennale 2011 #1
The “Why-Din-I-Think-About-It?” – Singapore Biennale 2008 #4
The “See-Liao-Catch-No-Ball…”!  – Singapore Biennale 2008 #3
The “Die-Die-Must-See”! – Singapore Biennale 2008 #2
The “Die-Die-Must-See”! – Singapore Biennale 2008 #1


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