I usually have a favourite art work after each exhibition. However, for 5 Stars: Art Reflects on Peace, Justice, Equality, Democracy and Progress, I find it really hard to pick one. Only because each reflection is so uniquely different from the other, yet when combined together, fed me with surprises- visually, emotionally and audibly.
Located at the first floor, Ho Tzu Nyen’s No Man was a great welcoming piece. I was the only one in the space, and initially, I felt slightly frightened. When I stared into the mirror, I saw not my own reflections but projections of animated characters- children, animals, skeletons and human flesh. Their peculiar gaze drew my attention. They never looked into your eyes directly. It was as if justice is the brutal confrontation of one’s inner demons. The effect of the smoke in the room made it an immersive experience which was further enhanced by the well-composed music. By the way, it makes a difference whether you are entering this dark room alone or in a group, so I strongly recommend you spend a little longer time inside to feel it.
Compared to the abstract presentation of justice, I thought Matthew Ngui adopted a more direct approach towards the topic on democracy. Individuals from various backgrounds- artist, writer, researcher, volunteer, student- were asked to share their views on two questions pertaining to democracy in Singapore. But what was not so direct about Every Point of View was the clever mapping of content and delivery, which aptly brought out the essence and beauty of different perspectives from every angle and position.
While I tried to squeeze through the (seemingly) randomly positioned pillars with much caution, half of the time I was wondering how long did the artist take to paint the letters on the pillar so as to create the amazing optical effect of anamorphosis, which also transformed the space from 2D to 3D every time someone walked past the cameras.
Progressing to Raising Spirits and Restoring Souls, I really liked how Zulkifle Mahmod defamilarised the once familiar line, “sama sama menuju bahagia” in the national anthem. In the beginning, it did cause some unsettling, but gradually, the rhythmic staccatos started to form a beautiful melody which suggests that progress is perhaps a mysterious process embedded in the neatly arranged metal pipes on the walls. Although the exact mechanism cannot be seen, the presence of progress can be felt, or in this case, heard.
Certain abstracts are best defined in its negation, just like how Suzann Victor defines peace as the absence of war. Bloodline of Peace is a magnificent quilt made up of over 34 500 prismatic fresnel lens, and please do not just admire it from far. Walk nearer and take a closer look at the centre of each lens. The red patch is not just any dried paint, but precious drops of blood contributed by the community in Singapore, which makes the quilt extra warming.
The remaining star, Equality, gave the entire exhibition a soul. It brings everything into a full circle when the ideal of equality reflects on art using art, highlighting how art is an equal playing field for talented and passionate individuals. As I read through the titles of T.K. Sapabathy’s publications and collections one by one, I felt inspired by the way he artfully maneuvers between words and images, people and art works, past and present. Kumari Nahappan’s conceptual portrait of T.K. Sabapathy was equally inspiring and thought-provoking, especially because it shed light on how artists and critics communicate via art.
5 Stars: Art Reflects on Peace, Justice, Equality, Democracy and Progress will be on at Singapore Art Museum from 2 October 2015 to 2 May 2016.
Sharon is drawn to museums…from Disney to The Little Prince to ramen exhibitions, she simply enjoys staring and standing in front of exhibits; allowing her thoughts to wander occasionally. In an alternate universe, she imagines herself drawing and drumming. Meanwhile, she travels with a pen and notebook, as well as a missing DSLR.