Kampong: APAD's Contemporary 2007

APAD’s 33rd Contemporary Art Exhibition held at

Malay Heritage Centre (Taman Warisan Melayu).
Showing from 25th May 2007 – 8th June 2007.
Refer to official exhibition website for details.

The theme of this exhibition is about ‘kampong’ (Malay word for village). Most Singaporean if they are below 40 years-old would only have a vague idea of a kampong. That is because the housing landscape of this island nation underwent such rapid change after independence in 1965, that the kampung became extinct. I was born in a kampong. Yes literally – it is indicated in my birth certificate: 638-7 Lorong Palesari (That’s within Kampung Bedok – now some fancy condominium). I had a memorable childhood growing up in the kampung and during my adolescent years, I visited several Malaysian states to stay with relatives in their kampung. Though there are no more kampongs left in Singapore, I feel that we can keep the kampong spirit alive.
The kampong to me is more than a physical description for a particular type of housing with inadequate modern facilities. Basically, it is good neighbourliness. It is about overcoming common needs and celebrating small triumps. I wanted to express these thoughts in reminiscing the kampong and I thought of the simple toys we used to play that builds on neighbourly interactions.

Batteries not included,
2007, Batik installation,
5cm cube x 5 pieces in variable arrangements

Five-stones (Malay: Batu Serembat) is a simple home-made toy for a game that children played. I remembered playing it with my neighbours. It is made of left-over pieces of cloth, a patchwork of sort reflecting the times of scarce resources. A big contrast to the games children play these days. Computer games that often promote violence and builds upon one’s selfishness. Viewers are allowed to touch my installation and reflect on the simplicity of interaction in a game. The fabrics used are my own batik paintings which I stitched together. Older audience seems to have an immideate response to it. However, most find it hard to accept that this is a work of art. What do you think? Your comments appreciated.

4 thoughts on “Kampong: APAD's Contemporary 2007

  1. But how do you think Singapore can revive the kampong spirit at the cost of its mordernisation (which seems to be the biggest barrier)?

  2. OK fair comments and rather articulate. I sent an email to thank you but your address is bogus. Reminds me of a saying in Malay that is apt in this situation: “Rejam batu sembunyi tangan” (Hiding the hand that threw the stone).
    I can accept your criticism and alternative interpretation of looking for a symbol of cohesiveness in the object. But what I presented is a reflection on the simplicity of kampong games that condition our relationship with others. The materials are fragments from my batik paintings which I cut up and sew into artworks (they are not prints). No gimmicks dude – just having fun.
    BTW I am not using graffiti as a marketing tool, I am selling it. It is my other practice. I practice several art disciplines and I make a living of them and, no I am not ashamed of it. Who would you rather see make money out of this – Billabong?
    Yah… deconstruction or whatever that is expected in post-modern contemporary art is a constant “in-progress”. To me it need not happen all the time, do be happy and have fun from time to time.

  3. I do not see it as an attempt of reminiscing the past; in bringing forth the cohesiveness of ‘batu serembat’. Is this another gimmick? Basically, you are just celebrating, yet again, the alternative form of batik technique.
    Yes. It gives me an immediate response as it is obvious. It is definitely not hard to accept or to digest as a work of art as it is, again, pretty obvious (the nature of batik prints on ‘batu serembat.’)
    You need to challenge yourself. Rather than comfortably or safely exploring its form, you critically need to challenge and deconstruct the concept of batik. That, I believe, would be fruitful.

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