Singapore Biennale

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jpatokal
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Singapore Biennale

Post by jpatokal » Sat, 14 Oct 2006 7:28 pm

Here's three things I thought I'd never see in Singapore:

1) A video clip flashing words like "HATE ME" and "KILL ME" over Lee Kuan Yew's face.
2) A guy dressed in a Merlion suit partying at a rave and saying "Drugs are fun!"
3) A family of faceless clones covered in corporate logos, including PAP, NTUC and Louis Vuitton. (Well, OK, I do see this one everyday, just not in an art exhibition.)

But today I did, at the Singapore Biennale's Tanglin Camp site. Like all modern art shows, you need to wade through a fair bit of incomprehensible dross to find the good bits, but it really was surprisingly edgy and no-holds-barred for Singapore. Both 1 & 3 above were from Brian Gothong Tan's "We live in a dangerous world", which also has a brilliant little video clip called "Imelda Goes to Singapore" -- at first glance, it seems to be Mrs. Marcos in a fancy evening gown, preening herself in front of a mirror and singing a love song, but soon enough you realize it's a Filipina maid wearing NTUC Fairprice bags on her sleeves and the song's words go "I owe everything I have to you / I will be your slave forever..." :o

A few others that caught my eye...
- Philip Brophy's "Fluorescent", featuring a David Bowie-lookalike drag queen singing in a crazy music video. More interesting than I make it sound.
- Takashi Kurabayashi's "Secret Garden". I won't spoil the surprise.
- Aida Makoto's "Osama Bin Laden Goes to Japan". This is just hilarious.

Then there's a panel of four video screens, where naked cartoon women do various obscene things with snails, bugs, little winged Eroses and each other. I'm not sure what it all means, but I'm pretty sure it's the weirdest thing I've seen in Singapore.

Unfortunately I have no idea what this last one is called because the Biennale's website is absolutely craptastic, and it doesn't even give the bleeding names of the works, much less show any pictures so you'd, say, actually have some idea of what is available where, which is doubly stupid as this thing is scattered all over the city. (Update: as I was writing this I finally found a listing of the works' names under "Media Releases" (!), where you can download a PDF giving the program. Still no way of actually identifying the works though.)

Anyway, here's how it works: $5 gets you a pass valid for one entry to all sites (that is, pay once and visit 'em all), including the shuttle bus that trundles up from City Hall to the Tanglin Camp site behind Dempsey Rd, and a "scarf" that you can use to collect free (!) badges from (almost) every single installation.

The exhibitions run until November something, although once again, the spectacularly misdesigned website (did I already mention how bad this is?) doesn't seem to say anywhere until when. Free entry on Fridays from 6 to 9 PM. Go see it!
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague

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Post by jpatokal » Tue, 17 Oct 2006 5:18 pm

Went and checked the Biennale exhibits at National Museum and the Art Museum too:

The Nat'l Museum is also doing a free Cartier jewelry show, which had queues going around the block; the Biennale part was comparatively quiet, but had a few interesting works including a 60-minute semi-documentary on the last meals served to death row prisoners before execution.

The Art Museum's works were quite dull, all just inept 1970s-era revolutionary paintings from South-East Asia, and so similar to their permanent exhibition that we had to double-check to confirm that this was the Biennale bit. Skip it.

Only City Hall left to go...
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague

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