For a long time, many of us have pondered, “what on earth is happening with Singapore Art Museum?” as we stared at the boarded-up building on Bras Basah Street. This Singapore Art Week, SAM returns with a bang as it dishes out some of the most exciting shows we’ve seen.
Head over to the Engine Room to get your fill of video art with works by Malaysian artist Gan Siong King. Here, specially designed benches promise a more immersive experience as they vibrate to accompany the video works’ audio.
Installation view of ‘A Machine Boosting Energy into the Universe’ with ‘Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3 — Naga Installation’ (2015) by Korakrit Arunanondchai. Image Credit: Singapore Art Museum
The second gallery presents ‘A Machine Boosting Energy into the Universe,’ a showcase of Korakrit Arunanondchai’s works that explore technological advancements along with spiritual beliefs. Sink into large pillows on tie-dyed floors while watching a video installation that’s an ode to Bangkok and check out humanoid sculptures and the Naga made out of electronic waste.
The collaborative exhibition ‘Refuse’ is filled with stacks of recycled wooden pallets that hold glass jars of live mushrooms. Image Credit: Singapore Art Museum
The third gallery houses ‘Refuse,’ a collaborative exhibition between local band The Observatory, mycology designer Bewilder, archival advisor Ujikaji, moving image-maker Yeo Siew Hua, and guest curator Tang Fu Kuen. It focuses on the band’s interests in fungi from biological and sound perspectives.
(Left) A fungi-operated instrument at ‘Refuse.’ Here, the mushrooms release vibrations to create sound. (Right) A mushroom-covered guitar.
We loved how this show not only brought music and biology into a space that’s usually reserved for visual art but also how SAM included a diverse range of local creatives and non-human collaborators (aka the mushrooms!) in the process.
(Left) Salty Xi Jie Ng with her social artwork ‘Dear Singapore Art Museum Acquisition Committee,’ which questions what gets to be valued as art and who gets a say in what should be preserved in institutional collections. (Right) Chu Hao Pei with his rice tea ceremony performance piece that explores the consumption and production of rice. Visitors can sign up to participate.
Another must-see is the showcase by the artists involved in SAM’s pilot residency programmes ‘Present Realms’: Salty Xi Jie Ng, Chu Hao Pei, and Johann Yamin. Ng explores rituals of ancestor worship following her grandmother’s passing and also questions what deserves to be called art. Sign up to participate in Chu’s performance piece, where he will host a rice tea ceremony to explore the issues of rice production and consumption. Finally, Johann Yamin’s installation works comment on how we relate to the digital world, especially through the commercial industries of gaming and esports.
Overall, we highly recommend visiting SAM’s new space – we loved how elegantly the shows explored timely topics. Singapore Art Museum’s new space is located at Level 1 in Tanjong Pagar Distripark. It opens to the public on 14 January 2022.