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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Bastille

Bastille played the Hard Rock Coliseum Friday, January 9 on Sentosa in Singapore to a room full of dancing cell phones and a unicorn.

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My first trip to China was a long weekend in Shanghai last year. At the time I was still freelancing and I accompanied Husband on a business trip. Definitely an international city, I found myself intrigued by Shanghai’s style and culture.

I started my time in Shanghai with a walk down the Bund, the colonial riverside of Old Shanghai lined by historical buildings on the west and the Huangpu and financial district on the east. In the morning, the air was clear but by 4 pm, the haze had rolled in and the buildings weren’t very visible. Luckily, I had a chance to snap these shots in the morning.

Along the Bund.

Along the Bund.

Still along the Bund.

Along the Bund.

Worker

A Chinese worker has a smoke break near the Bund.

In China, red symbolizes prosperity and joy while white symbolizes death and mourning so it’s only fitting that a Chinese bride should wear red. This bride and groom were having their wedding portraits done along the Bund.

Bride

Bride

The riverfront walkway along the Bund underwent a major reconstruction in March 2010. The benefits are clear.

The Bund

Along the Bund.

the bund

Along the Bund.

I took a similar photo of a bull at Wall Street in NYC a few years ago.

Capitalism

A Nod to Capitalism

Continuing my walk, I ran into these fun guys dishing up some street snacks.

Durian

Weird fruit

I stumbled into People’s Park and found a man practicing his Mandarin characters.

People's Park

People’s Park

It took me a while to figure out what was going on with the hordes of people below. Eventually I came to the conclusion I was at a marriage market. Every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m parents of unmarried adults gather to try and play matchmaker. The gender gap in China has widened to make finding a suitable bride more and more difficult for Chinese men. This market has been ongoing since 2004.

Marriage Fair

Marriage Fair

All this walking was making me hungry so I made my way to Jiajiatangbao (90 Huanghe Lu) for xiaolongbao. I arrived just in time to miss the long queue and sat across from a sweet local couple who gave me tips on the art of eating the dumplings without spilling out the precious juices or burning my mouth.

Dumplings

Dumplings

There are plenty of temples in Shanghai. Later with Husband now in tow, we visited the Jing’an Temple just north of Jing’an Park.

temple

Jing’an Temple

temple

Jing’an Temple

temple

Jing’an Temple

museum

Pretty.

After the temple, we settled down into the lovely grass at Jing’an Park where we were promptly booted out by these officers. They were very strict about the “No sitting or standing on grass” policy. A shame, really. The grass was so nice and well cared for. I challenge you to resist temptation to sit on it.

Park police

The Law

We topped the evening off with cocktails and jazz, which is apparently live and well in Shanghai.

Jazz

Jazz

Until next time, Shanghai!

Editors note: Visas to China are required for many countries and can be expensive, particularly for Americans. If you plan on staying 72 hours or less, you may qualify for the 72-hour Transit Visa Exemption Program. Keep that in mind when booking tickets for a quick weekend and you could save yourself a few hundred dollars.

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A few weeks ago Gillman Barracks celebrated their second anniversary with late night art openings, food, libations and music. I enjoyed my time at their first anniversary party so decided it would be worth a second go around. My friend, Radha, was keen as well so we met there and moved from gallery to gallery following the path of free wine.

Gillman Barracks Second Anniversary Party

Gillman Barracks Second Anniversary Party

Along the path of free wine at Gillman Barracks

Along the path of free wine at Gillman Barracks

When we arrived at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery we were really stoked to have stumbled across 38 large-scale prints of Annie Liebovitz‘s portrait photography. (editor’s note: exhibit closed as of 9 Oct 2014) .I had heard that she had an exhibition at the ArtScience Museum but had not yet made my way there so this was a great treat. Radha was equally as excited.

Sundaram GAGd Gallery

Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Whoopi Goldberg photo by Annie Liebovitz

Whoopi Goldberg portrait by Annie Liebovitz

The next holiday weekend, Hari Raya Haji, I was planning to treat myself to the beach. That is, until I saw the haze had crept in. Left suddenly with no plans I got out my trusty Google Machine aka computer and started scouring for events around town. Voila! The ArtScience Museum was having a free day in honor of the holiday. I texted Radha and we made plans once again to meet. (editor’s note: exhibit closed as of 19 Oct 2014)

True as promised, the ArtScience Museum was free to all that would brave the haze to get there. We perused the exhibition that featured both professional and personal photos, although Annie was very clearly portrayed as someone who did not have boundaries between the two. The story of her life and career was on display, including moments with her partner (referred to in the exhibit as “long-time friend”) Susan Sontag and Annie’s often clearly annoyed parents.

Quite chuffed with our luck, we ended our afternoon with a pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Marina Bay Sands. Not cheap, but necessary. Especially after viewing the line at Din Tai Fung.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, because you may be a procrastinator like me and just realized that you have the day off work tomorrow for Deepavali. If so, you are in luck. The ArtScience Museum is hosting another free day. Although the Annie Liebovitz exhibit is now closed, Flux Realities: A Showcase of Chinese Contemporary Photography is still on display and offers 60 photographs by 7 different Chinese photographers ranging from landscape to fantasy. It’s definitely worth a look. Did I mention it’s free?

The ArtScience museum is open daily from 10:00am until 7:00pm, including public holidays. Last admission is at 6:00pm.

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This poem was featured at the start of the 2007 movie, Into the Wild  and was published in The Gold Cell ten years prior. This is one of those poems that for me never gets old, despite its melancholy and resignation, or perhaps enhanced by it.

I hope you enjoy it too. xx


 

I Go Back to May 1937

Sharon Olds

 

I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it–she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips like chips of flint as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.

 

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Singapore is the closest I’ve ever lived to Australia. And it’s a good thing we’re here since a few good friends moved to Melbourne about 3 years ago. That and well, who doesn’t love Melbourne?

left bank

The left bank.

southgate

Blue sky day.

public transport

Public transport.

graffitti

Street art outside tapas restaurant.

Sunshine, good food, art. But let’s be honest what it was really all about. Getting these two their presents.

presents.

presents.

The simple and versatile ribbon on string wins the day.

ribbon

Ribbon on string.

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You may remember that last year I was a little clueless when it came to Chinese New Year. I ended up ringing in the year of the snake with a last minute trip to Kuala Lumpur. My friend, Giselle, was barely more than a stranger to me at the time yet invited me along with her and her husband anyway.

Doesn’t that seem the nature of life here in Singapore? You meet someone and a week later you are hauling your bag on to a bus and settling down next to them for an adventure. Sometimes you part ways at the end and keep in touch as a formality on Facebook. In other cases, as is the case of Giselle, I was happy to make a friend to keep.

Our agenda was relaxed with a few things in mind, including Thean Hou Temple in its full New Year glory.

Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple

Heh, this sign made me laugh. By the end of day 1 we had made a game out of trying to get a taxi that would use it’s meter. We took turns approaching taxis and the one who got a driver that would use the meter won the round. Generally one out of every 4 taxi drivers would oblige.

taxi

Giselle studied art, so a trip to the Islamic Arts Museum was in order. The architecture of the building was a highlight.

Islamic Arts Museum

Onto the charming and chaotic Batu caves!

Batu Caves

atbatucaves

inbatucaves

And of course, a trip to KL would not be complete without a view of the Petronas Towers.

petronastowers

Although there are quite a few sights to see in KL, one draw of the city is their affordable 4 and 5 star hotels. Might as well spend some time enjoying the facilities and take things slow. My travelling companions booked early and were able to get a deal at a top hotel. I, on the other hand, was last minute and had to go a bit more budget. With a pool like this, I didn’t feel a bit bad about the extra money saved.

Hotel

Impiana KLCC rooftop pool

2014 introduces the year of the horse. Once again, I found myself without plans. This time due to tentative work-related commitments. While husband and myself contemplated last minute bookings, we opted in the end for a staycation spent with new and old friends in similar situations. Sometimes its just nice to not rush around.

One thing remains the same between CNY of the snake and the horse: so.many.mandarins.

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I was in the US recently taking on some new work. Two things really struck me about being back in the US. The first was ERMAHGAWD, WINTER. Apparently I forgot what that felt like. The second thing was how the political atmosphere had changed. Marriage equality, healthcare, guns. It’s all happening. I submit this picture I took while entering the office as evidence.

Dear America, don't bring your guns to work

Dear America, don’t bring your guns to work

So strange to see these signs around, and even stranger that other people didn’t think they were strange. Or maybe 3+ years abroad has made me the strange one. Now there’s a philosophical question for you.

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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)

Ai Wei Wei's Baby Formula at the Michael Janssen gallery

Ai Wei Wei’s Baby Formula at the Michael Janssen gallery

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.

Andy sips wine and contemplates art at the Gillman Barrack galleries

Andy sips wine and contemplates art at the Gillman Barrack galleries

More

Anthropos: Navigating Human Depth in Thai and Singapore Contemporary Art Curated by Loredana Pazzini-Paraccian

Anthropos at Sundaram Tagore Gallery Singapore

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.

Charlie Lim at the Gillman Barrack's 1st anniversary party

Charlie Lim at the Gillman Barrack’s 1st anniversary party

Gillman Barracks street party

Gillman Barracks street party

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

opening hours:
Tue to Sat 12pm-7pm

Sun 12pm-6pm
Closed on Mondays & Public holidays

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Hi. Been busy.

Please enjoy this Charles Bukowski poem I recently discovered and love.

I hope you enjoy the space.

xx

no help for that / Charles Bukowski

there is a place in the heart that

 will never be filled

a space

and even during the

 best moments

 and

 the greatest

 times

we will know it

we will know it

 more than

 ever

there is a place in the heart that

 will never be filled

and

we will wait

 and

 wait

in that

 space.

~ You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense, 1986

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I am practicing yoga in one of the gazebos at the Singapore Botanical Gardens with Monique in the morning. We are just transitioning into cobra pose when I hear her say “Is that a… monkey?”

I quickly become alert to my surroundings. “WHERE?” It took me several months to spot my first monkey in Singapore, but since then they seem to pop up more frequently.

Monkey versus swans at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

Monkey versus swan at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

This one was trudging it’s hand through the sand and muck looking for food. Obviously, the swans did not approve. I felt honored to witness such a show down and was fascinated, alongside many others.

Monique didn’t share my sentiment. “It’s scary to me that they are so happy to encroach upon human space,” she said.

Monique had previously lived near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where they are known to be a problem. They steal food, break things and even sneak into people’s homes. Being fed by curious humans only serves to exacerbate the problem as they get used to human food and start to associate things like plastic bags with food sources.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore is carrying out what they call “monkey control operations.” Monkeys that encroach on land occupied by humans are relocated or euthanized. Sadly, euthanization is more  common due to the tribal nature of monkeys. Tribes are usually wary of strangers and not likely to accept newcomers.

Animal rights groups are making a case for electric fencing to keep the monkeys at bay, but I wonder if Singaporeans are willing to accept this extra cost and responsibility, unless of course it’s instated by the government.

But to someone who isn’t from an area with these creatures roaming freely, the sight of a monkey is quite exciting and new. I see it on my friend’s faces and remember it in myself when I saw my first monkey on a trip to India five years ago. To someone who has seen monkeys before, seeing them interact with other animals like this is still quite cool. Um, that is unless you’ve had them go through your trash, like Monique.

My life has become The Nature Channel.

Editor’s note: read more about monkey problems in Singapore here and here.

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