Singapore Art Museum
05.07.2010 - 05.07.2010
Aunty and Uncle is a respectful but endearing way to address an older person. So you may say to your taxi driver, "Just over there Uncle" or to the drinks lady "Aunty, AUNTEEEEEE...another one please."
I don't think a whiney baby voice is obligatory for maximum impact.
So I got the bus 77 from Holland Road flyover to Bras Baha Road which is off the southern bit of the shopping haven of Orchard Rd. I had a yummy regular latter sing $5.40 at The Coffee Bean, wrote some panic musings about 'what is going to become of my life when I am back in the UK".
I noticed that there were quite a lot of white people in suits and shock horror a black person in singapore - I over heard him speaking ..sounded like east london; a trendy spikey hair-cut student typing into his mac (terrible posture back all stooped over and screen reflection on his glasses reflection on his screen on his glasses etc) and one two very well groomed sing locals.
On the SAM website http://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg, is states :
"To date, SAM has amassed the world’s largest public collection of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks with a growing component in international contemporary art.
...The museum building was particulalry impressive. It was originally St Joseph’s Institution (SJI), a Catholic boys’ school, run by La Salle Brothers. In 1855, the cornerstone was laid by its founder, Father Jean-Marie Beurel."
Quite a lot of the gallery rooms were closed temporarily which was a mild irritation but I got over that once I stumbled upon some of the amazing exhibits.
Ground Floor Exhibition
"In Life of Imitation, Ming Wong re-visits the context of the Golden Age of Singapore cinema in the 1950s and 60s; an era of nation building, economic struggle and rapid modernisation.
Inspired by the rich legacy, Wong re-reads “national cinema” constructed through language, role-playing and identity, by re-interpreting films that are familiar to audiences spanning two generations, and which engage with performative notions of mis-casting and parroting. The first is a compendium of works by P. Ramlee, the wunderkind of Malay cinema. The second is the Hollywood melodrama Imitation of Life (1959) by Douglas Sirk about a black mother and her “white” daughter. The third is Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) with actress Maggie Cheung rehearsing a scene where she confronts her spouse‘s infidelity.
Through these video interventions, the viewer is presented with questions relating to roots, hybrid and the politics of becoming. The exhibition also unveils cinema posters by Singapore’s last surviving billboard painter; rare screen memorabilia of a private collector; and documentaries by film-maker Sherman Ong. The Singapore Art Museum re-stages this award-winning exhibition with a new design and additional exhibits."
Douglas Sirk's Imitiation of Life (1959) is such an emotional film anyway especially for the time, and then to use it as a basis to address racial identity 50 years with such empathy and innovation makes me feel warm at its genius but equally sad at its relevance today.
Basically the artist recreated parts of the movie, by casting 3 male actors from the main ethnic groups in Singapore (Chinese, Malay and Indian) who take turns to play a black mother and her mixed-race daughter, Sarah Jane. "I'M SOMEBODY ELSE...I'M WHITE. WHITE ! WHITE ! " with Malaya translation emblazenned on one of the mock posters. Absolute genius.
Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) had particular poignancy for me. One of my best buddies Ehpriya who has been living in Thailand and Viet Nam for over a decade now had recommended it to me. And I watched it frame by frame, salivating over its stylistic paradise as research for my graduate catwalk collection at London College of Fashion in 08 - which I called 'Trunk - for adventure and reflection: post-colonial shabby chic' (http://www.bushra.biz/ click catwalk). Memories (-:
This time, a Caucasian actress plays both of the star-crossed lovers, Mrs So and Mr Chow, and speaks the lines in Cantonese by repeating after Ming Wong's off-camera cues. This mock film is called "Love for the Mood" and termed a 'rehearsal of a rehearsal'.
There were many other notable works within the gallery.
For me the most arresting were in the exhibition "Seeing the Kites Again" by Wu Guanzhong (more info http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5154608) who had passed away in June 2010.
"These works are centred around his home in the South of China, his childhood, as well as the villages and towns he has been to. His interest in life and his attention to ordinary scenes, infuse his art with an aesthetic quality that demonstrates a return to simplicity."
His style was similar to impressionist painters. In this exhibition he used water colour and oils to depict traditional scenes. Wu strongly believed "Art could only be created from an innocent and selfless mind and could only germinate in one's own soil."