Little Rooms of Horror – Singapore Biennale 2013 #2

January 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment

With the Lunar New Year around the corner, many chinese families are at their busiest doing major spring cleaning for the house. Old things are normally thrashed and replaced by new ones. But one man’s thrash is another’s treasure. Some people have a knack for picking after others’ thrash. They may feel that the items are still usable and it is wasteful to throw them away. Some people pick things that may be useful to themselves; while other pick, clean, and resell these items for some extra cash. You can call these people the “Pickers” or “Karung guni“, or “rag-n-bone” man in local term. Some of these thrash may end up with a new fashionable name called “Vintage” and their prices may double or triple as a result of their new-found status. Yet there are some who simply keep things for the sake of keeping things…there’s a name for these people – “Hoarders”.

Then there is another group of people who pour over mountain of rubbish in search of prized pieces for their work. There is zero capital involved, minimum or zero re-creation needed, and the end result is usually “thought-provoking”…These people called themselves, “Artists”.

Itchyfingers were at the Art Museum visiting the Singapore Biennale 2014 when we entered a dark room. A faint musky odour seemed to linger in the air and what greeted us gave us a rude shock. A whole room of dolls’ heads pierced on bamboo sticks…Was this some kind of Halloween-themed room? Coincidentally it was around the Halloween period when we visited…

Lollipops of dolls’ heads…whole room of them….freaking eerie…

A look at the “rationale”…So these dolls were salvaged from Manila
landfill…that explained the smell…

Regardless how “grand” the idea behind these doll installation, or how 
much the artist wanted people to think about their action…I just 
thought it was really eerie to have to look at so many of these old dolls and
work on them…

Send in the clown….

The path led viewer to a metal shed…full of more dolls…

It said, “Welcome” on the door…gosh…more smell…I wished I had
a less sensitive nose…

Mutated dolls all over!

Even the ceiling had more dolls staring at you! This just reminded me 
of that cave full of women’s hair in a Turkish Ceramic shop….Equally
musky….equally creepy…couldn’t help thinking what’s behind the 
artist’s mind….

What’s Scully doing among the ladies? Smelling stinky legs?

Mickey also seemed to have gone to the wrong place…He should be
among Princess and not with these headless and mutated dolls….

What were these two young ladies looking at?

A sick and psychotic-looking sketch of a child…I’m beginning to
wonder if the artist had a traumatic childhood…

Just found the whole room of mouldy, broken and dirty dolls very disturbing…something outta a horror movie…something like Chucky the evil doll in Child’s Play the movie.

If you think a dark room full of gloomy-looking old dolls freaked the h*ll outta Itchyfingers was bad enough, you would think we would welcome the sight of a corner with cheerful red walls and floor. On it, lied 2,000 kg of saga seeds that the artist had collected from across South-east Asia over the years.

What?!? A pile of saga seeds also can be called art?

Itchyfingers simply cannot appreciate this. On the official site, the rational says,

“Comprising more than 2,000 kg of saga seeds collected from across Southeast Asia, Anahata is a site-specific installation located in the heart of the Singapore Art Museum. In Hindu cosmology, the word refers to the fourth and ‘heart’ chakra, meaning “unstruck” or “unhurt”. The idea of change is expressed here not as an active force or physical manifestation, but rather as sheer potential energy as embodied in the seed, which holds the life-force of an entire tree in its tiny kernel. The work recalls the history of the site as a former Catholic boys’ school, a place where knowledge and learning were planted. Pulsing with the energy of thousands of seeds, Anahata intimates that the greatest power is that of pure possibility.”

Er…can you understand just what the h*ll the artist was trying to make out of these seeds? Call us shallow, but really scratch head and “catch no ball” leh!

I’m sure many of us had collected these seeds before, as the bright red coloured seeds are really nice and attractive. In Chinese, these are known as 相思豆, or “mutual love bean”, hence it has a romantic symbolism behind. But to collect so many of these is simply crazy! Just what was the artist thinking when she started collecting so many of these seeds? Surely she has heard of the phrase, “Take nothing but photos. Leave nothing but footprints”? So having amassed such huge amount of seeds, it seems the artist finally found some good use for them when she got herself the high-profile Biennale commission work…I think I should start collecting some seeds too and wait patiently for some organisation to commission me an art installation. In the meantime, I shall concoct some only-myself-will-understand rationale for my masterpiece….

But I think given the space constraint in my humble abode, I shall instead conceptionalise this:

An empty white room with only a single grain of rice.

The rationale? To urge people to ponder over the problem of food-wastage and food-shortage. To make the installation interactive – try look for the grain in the room.

Finders, keepers.

Also see related posts:
> Four Itchyfingers – Singapore Biennale 2013 #1


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