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Showing posts from June, 2006

I want I want...

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my imitation of Blake's "I want I want!" , except the magician's rabbit is already on the moon! This is #5 of the magician series, #4 is here and here . Got well in time for my first printmaking class where I made the sketch above into a B/W monoprint! Yesterday J asked me what I wanted. Not wanted to be. But wanted, in the largest sense - in "life". I would like to think I want to be able to say this at the end, and then thinking backward from there, live accordingly. But it seemed hard to give such an answer at that time, when a whole set of seemingly "real, pragmatic" issues seemed to be on the plate. The price for daydreaming too much.

pass it on

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i like how yoshitomo's painting "too young to die" is merchandised here as a giant ashtray. we don't smoke so it's used as a tray for vitamins and medication. the irony either way! I've been sick since Saturday, the most virulent flu-bug I've known and promptly passed to J. The only "good" thing that has come out of the 5 days was that I managed to finish reading 2 wonderful books which I would, if I could, promptly pass to someone - Nicole Krauss' The History of Love and RK Narayan's Tiger for Malgudi . That's all for now. I don't think blogging counts as "rest" ;>

only lines

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a mock cover for a book still waiting for its poems Arthur Yap died on 19 June. The Straits Times wrote a eulogy for the "man of few words" who died of throat cancer, his vocal box removed and replaced with an artificial implant 2 years ago. Like Goh Poh Seng who passed away last year, I read somewhere that he was living apart from Singapore. He is my favourite Singaporean poet, and after all these years, still the best. I re-discovered him only a few years ago, reading anew when SKOOB published his selected poems The Space of City Trees in 2000. (Arthur Yap is also a painter and the cover art below is his.) He writes a measured line, but its syntax and cadence - natural, steady - belie an ambivalence - as if to preserve, still, another space, an invisible ellipsis, a hidden parenthesis. And it is these spaces which give his poems endurance, give an open invitation to stay, still, contemplate - perhaps - know. There is seldom a false note or an exaggerated gesture ag

all art-ed out!

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UK’s national cuisine Just when I thought I’ve had enough of art for the week at Newcastle, I was taken on a tour of a small area called Oesborne Valley where all kinds of arts and cultural activity have been taking root. Aargh, enough! But it was strangely inspiring. A beheaded Christo, since I was taking this photo in secret I met Christo, a geeky cinephile (is there any other kind of cinephile?) behind the Star and Shadow Cinema – a micro cinema . This is new term I learnt today. A staff at the Baltic Arts Centre, he would take time off to run a cinema (for cinephiles called the “cinecide”) 2 days a week. And since the Oesborne Valley property came up, he formed a partnership with other micro cinemas like the “A side” (artist films), “the other side” (LBG cinema) and an anarchist cinema to take over this old disused building at Oesborne Valley. Called the Star and Shadow Cinema, it is due to open in 22 July. When we visited it, it was still a really run down place still

superhumanism (and harry potter)

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A Singaporean living in Newcastle and whom I met said this when comparing the UK to Singapore: "In some ways, the UK is very backward, but in other ways, it is way ahead." OK, so this may sound like a generalisation that would apply to any and every country, but in the context of the conversation, it was a useful reminder that for everything that Singapore could take pride in having achieved, it was often at the cost of something else equally valuable. click for larger view During the last 2 days of the conference, I heard from artists, cultural leaders and even a judge on the impact of their artistic or cultural endeavour in transforming communities. And the most important and interesting lessons for me were learnt from countries or communities of the "third world" (I feel compelled to use these inverted commas because the whole chronology of first/third world seemed at odds with the arts and culture) – countries or communities marked by social and material p

Paris had his Helen

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Will you choose her? The Virgin Mother , Damien Hirst’s 35ft tall bronze sculpture in the courtyard of the Royal Art Academy for their annual summer exhibition. At the National Gallery , a guide is introducing a 17th Century (?) painting to a group of 7 year-olds on a school excursion. It depicts the handsome youth Paris, seated under a tree with Hermes behind him and three naked goddesses before him – Athena or Minerva, the goddess of wisdom; Venus or Aphrodite, the goddess of love; and Juno, the goddess of wealth. He holds out an apple in offer. Who will he offer it to? And implicitly, what does he desire in return? Guide : What about you all? Will you choose intelligence, knowledge; or love, the most beautiful woman in the world; or money, fortune? Some of the kids raised their hands, eager to give their answer. Others seemed deep in thought, or perhaps they are just bored. Guide : Tell me, how many of you want to be intelligent? You think intelligence is good? 3 maybe 4 ha

deja vu

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I would probably be exaggerating to say that even the flight path felt familiar. So I shan't. Only the bad airline food and service are (especially after J and I have experienced the automatic upgrade the last time we flew ). But when I stepped out of the plane, the patterned carpet, the characterless corridors and the nightmare queues at immigration - ah, Heathrow, the UK. Only this time, the number of migrants/residents from South Asia rivalled that of the tourists. We are staying at a 1-month old little hotel by Earl's Court, in a neighbourhood where a Rolls is parked by the curb, but turn a corner and it's student housing. And true to my recurring dream , the first stop after my colleagues and I dropped our bags was to Sainsbury's.

the ship that could've sailed away

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Saturday ended up being some kind of an art and architecture day for J and I. It started with a visit to this designer's workshop at Katong, then to Dramabox's A Stranger at Home at the National Library - the new space-agey library that's pretty much part of the efficient architecture that has prevailed - all photos in this post are by J/TOHA a detour to this Gotham-like Parkview Square building - J's fave building - the Art Deco, rather over-the-top structure that should audition to be Bruce Wayne's office - it has some 15 or so giant gold statues of folks like Dante, Chopin, Sun Yat Sen...and a giant goose before winding down with friends at the 5th session of ROJAK by farm held at the Golden Mile Complex . publicity poster of the aptly-themed Rojak5, given its venue I learnt so much from the various people and works I saw on Saturday I cannot even start to describe here the questions and answers that went through my mind the taxi ride home at 3

there and back

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a week of meetings gave me a chance to doodle this 2 days ago. It's been more than 9 years since I've been back from the UK. I'm sure it'll be a little strange going there next Monday, as if visiting a dream. This is the recurring dream. I am in Cambridge. I find the room I've been assigned to - it's a lot grottier than I had expected. But this is the UK after all. I try to figure out why I'm there. I must be crazy to be back with no plans and no J. Ah. I'm supposed to be doing a phD or something. I go back to the college bike shed and try to retrieve my bike. Hey, I still have the key to the lock. I cycle to Sainsbury's to stock up on groceries. This being the UK, it is 5pm and Sainsbury is about to close. They've run out of semi-skimmed milk. I grab something, but I don't know what. There is no sequence with the check out counter. I drop by the College computer lab (oh, they still have those ancient macs) and check my email. Then I

art tends

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Friday evening and over the weekend, enjoy some art and help raise funds for Indonesian quake victims here . ( image by A 100 tents )

Hope Street

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sceptical ampulets getting all body-arty at the Stamford Art Centre on Waterloo St. We took last Friday off work with plans to have no plans. But Ma J's acupuncture session in the city made us feel guilty for not having gone to visit her the whole week, so we trooped down to be with her instead and stumbled into the busy street of hope. Well, the truth is that we were also feeling doubtful about this whole acupuncture business. We both had a mental image of a dried-up old Chinese man smelling of axe oil , wearing a black gong fu get up and waiting for Ma J in his dark cockcroachy room where there are dusty bottles of pickled lizards and snakes in some urine-coloured fluid. Of course, once there, we were relieved to find a gentle professional TCM practitioner from He Nan and his clean, modest clinic, albeit located in a dark corridor of this HDB block just across from the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple at Waterloo Street. Next to this temple for the Goddess of mercy is the

self promotion

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Despite our complaints about Singapore designers' love for self-promotion and style over social and intellectual engagement (wah!), ampulets confess that we cannot resist the 1819 supermovement which, under a banner of patriotism, provides for expressions of unabashed devotion, sincerity, ironic inflection, contrivance or artful indulgence. In other words , we're just happy our submission here got accepted for the Majullah Stickapura Series 3 ! the stickers are supposed to be on sale somewhere, but we're not sure where yet.

a penny for this?

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A narrow 5-storey shophouse designed by Chan Soo Khian from the award-winning SCDA Architects , the private MINT museum of toys is located at Seah Street, right beside the Raffles Hotel. At the basement is a cafe with seats upholstered in a specially-made robot pattern brocade! There was an article in the papers about the the museum recently, so I shan't describe the museum in any detail - except to say it's a great place to spend a slow lazy weekend afternoon. I want a name card like this... I guess one of the perks of my job is that I get to go to a museum on a weekday afternoon and call it work! But what's better is being brought round the museum by its owner, Mr Chang. An engineer in his 50s who started collecting toys since he was a kid, Mr Chang now has a 3000 sq ft warehouse full of toys. On display at the museum are just 5% of his collection of pre-80s toys of every genre imaginable. But how did an engineer get to start and own his own museum?!? By livin