To understand the lie of the land, we often need to conduct surveys and make assessments, both physical and metaphysical.
Like an aerial surveyor, selected photographs from Sim Chi Yin’s Shifting Sands (2017-ongoing) document the reclamation project of the new container port at Tuas. Seen from high above, the construction site becomes a textured abstract in one photograph and a graphic grid in another; divorced from the grit and dust of the massive effort below. 195 years after Sir Stamford Raffles approved the first reclamation project for the new commercial centre of his new port, trade continues to be Singapore’s raison d’etre.
We had always found ways to use what the earth proffers, be they to extend our coastlines, adorn ourselves with precious stones, or create artworks, like Ong Si Hui’s geometric Bianco Carrara marble sculptures. They were meticulously carved by hand and honed to a perfectly smooth finish. Each rests on specific points of their structures. Precarious but in absolute balance and stillness; they are both apropos and antithetic to the current state of global affairs.
With land scarcity and competing priorities in this city-state, not least one touted to be a “garden city”, both urban and landscape planning are of utmost importance in policy-making. The ‘constructed landscape’ is sometimes brought to the fore in semi-public spaces too. Donna Ong’s photographs (My Forest Has No Name series) of a gushing waterfall and a tropical forest are really located in the Botanic Gardens and the Singapore Zoo.
Kray Chen’s video A Parade for the Paraders of former Singapore Armed Forces military band members playing in a decommissioned school building, hints not just at nostalgia and memory since all began their music careers in school, but at the continual redevelopment and repurposing of buildings. Apt too since military displays are so much a part of the annual National Day celebrations, postponed this year because of Covid restrictions. And now that most of the glass office skyscrapers are mostly empty because of work-from-home mandates, the tinkering sounds made by Zulkifle Mahmod’s sound installations No Substance (Trunk), pings more hollow than before. Yet flags and buntings still aflutter, like Ian Woo’s Flag-installation painted on thick plywood structures with a sloping surface; dynamic yet steadfast.
As Singapore celebrates her 56th year of independence in the midst of a pandemic, we remember what this land holds for us.
Venue: Fost Gallery, 1 Lock Road, #01-02, Singapore 108932
Tue – Sat: 11am-7pm
Sun: 11am – 6pm
Mon/Public Holidays: Open by appointment
When: 7 Aug - 17 Oct 2021,
By: FOST Gallery