SAM

Today’s adventure took me and my friend Ritika to the Singapore Art Museum, affectionately known around here as SAM.  The last time Prescott and I tried to go, the museum was between shows and largely shuttered, but now they have a giant exhibition up called Atlas of Mirrors.  It features contemporary artists from all around Asia, with a focus on Southeast Asian works, and looks at how we see ourselves and the world.  I’m not going to pretend to be an art critic, especially of contemporary works, but I can say that I enjoyed my visit.

Ritika and I started out in a room that has 100 islands splattered (that’s the best word I have for it) onto mirrors.  You sit under plastic palm trees to study it.

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Mirrors played a role in a few pieces, including this set of 1,000 mirrors going up a stairway:

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We saw these little terra cotta guys, hundreds of them …

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… and this room of charred wood called Black Forest

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… and this school of fish over a chair, which tells a famous Malay story…

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… and this map of Myanmar made out of bars of soap, each carved by a man who was once a political prisoner and who carved soap while he was in jail.

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We were grateful for our docent, who helped to give a little life and clarity to works that otherwise would have been much more puzzling.

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Several pieces in the exhibition dealt with issues of colonialism, a recurring theme all over this region.  The work below looks at the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, once called the Dutch East Indies or the Spice Islands.  The cloaks are make of gilded nutmegs.  That’s my colonial heritage …

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My favorite work took most of a room, which was filled with giant maps from a Chinese artist’s vast imagination.  The maps depicted places real and mythological, fantastic and completely invented.  I love maps (especially when Narnia, Oz, and Little Whinging are all on one continent)– I could have spent much longer perusing these.

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This map made me think about my AP Comp Gov and World Geography groups at Park:

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There were also glass figures of a variety of mythological animals, from the Sphinx to a griffin, on the ground (I think they were supposed to represent the creatures that sailors feared in the sea, and that were often depicted on old maps, but I remain confused about what Ganesha was doing there).

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To close, I’ll share the sign of the day — the idea of someone prohibiting seat hogging just makes me smile.

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