The Unearthed Dinners #2.

2014-05-28 22.44.10Answering two questions, I earned myself a place for The Unearthed Dinners series organised by Food For Thought and Singapore Art Museum. It is a collaborative effort to get strangers together to just have conversations about art, culture and our various perspectives on the things around us over dinner.

Here are the two questions:

  1. Nurture ________ Nature (Fill in the blank)
  2. If you were given the plot of land at the Singapore Art Museum front courtyard for one year, what would you do with it?

I attended something similar last year as part of the Singapore Biennale 2013.

Anyway, I dined at a table full of strangers for two hours and just like the last time, it was a refreshing and wonderful experience for me. I had fun and I felt at ease at the table. No intimidation or awkwardness.

Here were some answers from the first question that left an impression on me:

  • Nurture with Nature.
  • Nurture and Nature.

Nurture ____ Nature (With a circle drawn encompassing both words)

The people were all different but I am glad that I sat opposite a lady that was approachable and easy to talk to. We laughed at  each other’s responses and took turns to take the first bite out of the dishes. There were two rounds of card games involved to get each other talking about how we viewed ourselves, nature and The Arts in Singapore. We completed them pretty quick so we went on to come up with our own questions to share more with the other person.

At my side of the table, I was closer to one of the invited artist as well as a curator.

Conversations were easy to start and the thought processes we each had were different, so many things were brought to the table to discuss, listen and take in other questions and answers. It was an honor to be listening to great theories and ideas and concepts these individuals have about certain things.

And the best surprise will be the food served.

Being the chef’s personal answers to the same two questions we had to answer, the dishes were unexpected and done up with much thought. The taste, texture and ingredients used were a total surprise and entirely unexpected.

For example, the first dish served was a slice of cooked watermelon. Yup. And it was delicious by the way. Oh, and the dessert served that looked like a hard boiled egg? That was actually milk agar with peach.

You get the point. Hahaha.

Anyway, I am super glad I went since I admire and really appreciate the works both artists did for the Unearthed exhibition going on at the Singapore Art Museum. Happy that I visited the entire exhibition way before attending this dinner.

It was a wonderful Wednesday night.

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Singapore Biennale (2013-2014).

SB2013I was a part of Mandi Bunga just last year, a performance art that is a part of the Singapore Biennale. It was fun, insightful and meaningful to me.

And I am glad that the rest of the artworks and activities are as meaningful as the one I got to experience for myself. Without a job or school to take away my mornings and afternoons, I spent two whole days visiting the museums that are a part of this amazing Art Festival to immerse myself in visual and artistic creativity.

The crowds were small since this is the closing week and I went on weekdays, so I was able to really read the descriptions, take photographs and take my time to understand the work thoroughly before moving on to the next one. I like taking in the details as well as the big picture at the same time. Skimming through a work just does not leave an impression, or maybe it is just me letting my curiosity and love for all things beautiful take over.

Anyway, there were so many kinds of art – sculptures (one made out of soap), films, animation, paintings, installations and the list just goes on. There was so much variety and they engage with every possible sense to interact and impact in many different ways. It was a wonderful experience and also reminds me how powerful art can be. Especially with the theme being “If The World Changed”, the works shared personal, national and global beliefs, stories and hopes. The perspectives gave me new thoughts, emotions and inspiration. I was really happy.

It is impossible to talk about all the works in this post, because all of them gave me something to think about and learn but I would like to pick three to share with you.

  • Superbarbara Saving The World – Boonsri Tangtrongsin

There were 11 animation clips and they each illustrated different situations, some being social realities in Thailand. The hero as well as the victim is a sex doll named Superbarbara. The animation was done in a simple style but the messages were made clear through the repetitive style. I felt it was interesting how I focus on what the actions were about the first time round, and only start thinking about the meanings and intentions behind the actions for the second and third time round.

My favourite sequences are Blowing Job, Respirator, Feeding The Poor and lastly, The Plant. The images were strong and even now, I still think about them from time to time. For example, in Feeding The Poor, crows wait all around Superbarbara as she sticks her hand into her vagina to grab out money to feed these crows. It made me think about how prostitution feeds families and help them stay alive.

Simple messages but strong images and plenty of food for thought. Powerful.

  • Your Eyes Are Stupid – Joo Choon Lin

This was a test of the senses and challenging the notions of familiarity and certain ideas we already have about the things about us. It was really interesting to watch these unexpected scenarios play out visually. There was a screaming piece of raw meat before it was covered up in a packaging to be sold at supermarkets as well as a ‘balloon’ placed between two rock-like objects. It was weird, then a little uncomfortable, then I started to wonder why I felt that way. Because the ‘balloon’ should have burst? Because a piece of meat should not be screaming? Because it is not normal?

But the best part for me was throwing a coin into a pool of blue goo right in the middle of her exhibiting space. It reminded me of throwing coins into pools of clear water while making a wish. This time, the blue goo took a long time to absorb the coin and for it to disappear. While waiting, I was feeling anxious and the feeling only left when the coin was relatively covered by the goo. It made me uneasy that my coin might not reach the bottom and will always be stuck in the middle. I still do not really know why I felt that way.

  • Telok Blangah – Ahmad Abu Bakar

There was a boat filled with male prison inmates’ hopes, dreams and thoughts held in glass bottles. Some responses were framed and lined the wall next to the boat for visitors to read and get a sense of what the whole installation is about. It is a fantastic idea to bring us closer to the people that we cannot get in touch with on regular days and it opened up my eyes to their feelings and what these people have gone through.

What made this work even better was involving the visitors and enabling us to write responses to the messages that touched us in any way and our responses will be delivered back to the inmates through the glass bottles on the boat. I wrote a few responses and if I had another day, I would have gone back to write to every single one of them. It is a beautiful concept and I really want to thank the artist for coming up with something so heartwarming. The focus on the human touch and how we are able to support each other was wonderful.

If any of you have this weekend free, please do go down to the museums and experience the wonders of the artists yourselves. It is a wonderful experience. I guarantee it.

Anyhow, I really missed indulging in art so much, and I am really happy that I made time to be close to it again.