and the winner of the show is...
All images in this post are taken by J
...the Beach Road Camp and Non-Commissioned Officers' Building.
A mouthful? Obviously the developers who won the tender to restore and re-develop the site by 2012 figured they have a sexier-sounding (and in true Singapore fashion, unoriginal) moniker: "South Beach".
Despite being barely halfway through an essay on "Art Law" (*shudder*), J and I decided to take a less legalistic approach to the rest of the Saturday afternoon and continue our visit of the Singapore Biennale at the remaining Shigeru Ban and "South Beach" sites before the circus leaves town on 16 November.
In a way, all Biennales or such large-scale art spectacles are as much about their host cities as it is about the art. The gesture towards the global loops round to the local or domestic. In this way, the 3 main sites for this year's Biennale in Singapore are telling of how this island sees itself as a city:
1. The historic <City Hall site, destined to bear the unenviable weight of being the National Art Gallery by 2014, reflects the island's inability still to fully engage with its past.
2. Shigeru Ban's paper tube structure at the Marina Boulevard is dominated instead by containers bearing the name of the corporate sponsor, while the paper tubes mimic the neo-classical of our City Hall. But once at the site, the structure is overwhelmed by the new glass and steel tower block across the road and the vision of cranes across the Bay, slaving for the new Sands casino resort. On the field beside Ban's structure, the Aquilizans' installation of a sea of slippers mounted atop bamboo poles is an appropriate contrast - stark in its seeming poverty of colour and form, almost desolate if not for the positive text describing the work. And of course, this island's history as a fishing village and subsequently a trading port are aptly reflected.
3. The "South Beach" venue is my favourite. I must confess that the reason is the buildings themselves - the brass lamps, the faux 70s stained-glass sticker, the baby blue rooms and uneven concrete floors, the pane-less windows overgrown field, the large assembly hall, the brass plate commemorating the National Volunteer Corp's role in defending Singapore against the Japanese invasion. Certainly, my response is sentimental. it is the most "romantic" of the venues in being abandoned by the rest of the city - though not for long. And in this mood of shameless sentimentalism us islanders are prone to be in, ampulets leave you this picture.
And yes, this being Monday and I'm blogging, the "Art Law" essay is now out of the way.
p/s. Click here for more information on the Biennale, what to see, and how to get there.