I had heard there was an art scene in Singapore, but I had yet to run into it and hence, yet to believe it.
Afterall, Singapore is the country that jailed Samantha Lo, Sticker Lady. It wasn’t the arrest of Samantha Lo itself that surprised me, It was what I interpreted as a lack of understanding of her art form in the local community. I had heard people make statements that they were bewildered by her actions. Art? No, she’s just crazy, was the comment I heard.
I was relieved to know that I was wrong. There is more-than-just-relevant art in Singapore and it doesn’t take much scratching below the surface to find it. In fact, I saw it Friday night at the Gillman Barracks.
I was tempted to check out the series of art galleries when I heard one was housing Ai Wei Wei’s first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia. Husband and I went to his sunflower seeds exhibition at the Tate Modern in January 2011 and I was curious to find out what else this famous Chinese contemporary artist and dissident had up his sleeve.
His piece at Michael Janssen gallery focused on the ongoing tainted milk formula problems in his home country. I could feel his disappointment, the frustration associated with wanting your country to be more, to be better than it is. I think we all have those moments, but compound that with 81 days spent in jail held by your own government without any official charges being filed and you either come out with your soul crushed or more vigor than ever.
What I found profoundly different from his sunflower seed installation at Tate Modern was how accessible his work felt in Singapore. The sunflower seeds at the Tate were designed to be interactive, but ultimately had to be placed off limits due to safety issues. The dust created from walking on the seeds was creating a health hazard. But here were the milk canisters. Right there. I could have kicked them if I wanted to. (I didn’t)
We moved on to check out some of the other galleries. As a part of the Gillman Barracks first anniversary, the galleries were open late. We weren’t sure which one to check out next, so we followed the path of free wine.
The studios began to close, but we were lucky to stumble upon a small street party where up and coming Singaporean musician Charlie Lim was performing solo.
We contemplated food at the Naked Finn, but the lines encouraged us to go elsewhere. The food looked fantastic, so it will be something to look forward to on our next visit.
Ai Wei Wei’s exhibit continues until October 6, 2013 at the Micheal Janssen Gallery,
address: 9 Lock Road, #02-21, Singapore 108937
Tue to Sat 12pm-7pm
Closed on Mondays & Public holidays