"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I went to Tanglin camp to view some of the Singapore Biennale exhibits on Sunday. I dislike modern art, but it cost only $5 for a ticket to all 4 ticketed sites and my brother in law was paying, so. Unfortunately, most of the exhibits we went to weren't air-conditioned. His theory is that the better ones got the air-conditioning.

We wanted to see the Leap of Faith exhibit, where you wear a ferromagnetic vest and walk towards a magnetic wall. Unfortunately, it seems someone had damaged the vest on Saturday in his enthusiasm so it was closed. There was a video, however, in which almost everyone interviewed were definitely not Singaporean, and even those who might've been Singaporean (being of Chinese ethnicity) spoke in foreign accents. It might've been that they wanted to project a high-brow image, but more likely normal Singaporeans had better things to do than look at modern art.

Me watching the video on the wall

Another exhibit was in what must've been the old dental centre (Tanglin Camp used to house HQMC - Headquarters Medical Corps). There was a couch, in front of which was a TV showing a video recording of a TV playing a World War II film about the Japanese in Malaya/Thailand. Buttons on the walls let one turn lights on and off, as well as start and stop counters. And at the back there was a wall of monitors where one could view CCTV - of the people outside! No, I don't get it either.

This seditious exhibit also had, at various times, "God", "Brahma" and various unpronounceable and unrememberable names that seemed to belong to divers chieftains of African pygmy tribes.

There were walls full of primary school children's drawings of "Mocmoc & Mermer", depicting the Merlion and some weird yellow being with a horn on his forehead. This was bad enough, but we then went to an adjoining partition where a video, "The Adventures of Mocmoc & Mermer", was playing; 2 people dressed in Mocmoc and Mermer suits were frolicking and doing things such as sleeping in a hut and flying an airplane. It was hilarious and was more suited to children's television than an art exhibition.

My brother-in-law paid $25 for an unlimited reentry pass, which I calculated needed him to visit any one site 6 times to make it worth his money. So he needs to visit Tanglin Camp 5 more times in the next 47 days, or any of the other 4 ticketed sites just under once every 8 days. He did get a hilarious catalogue detailing the children's television show though:

"Swiss artist duo Com&Com's project for the Biennale brings together Mocmoc and the Merlion, two modern mythical creatures from Switzerland and Singapore - a match seemingly made in heaven. Commissioned in 2002 for the Swiss townofof (sic) Romanshorn, Mocmoc (derived from Com&Com) is an invented fantasy character who reputedly saved the town from a fire... Mocmoc's fabricated status as a town symbol caused a huge furore and debate...

The Merlion was created by the Singapore Tourism Board in the 1960s... Affectionately nicknamed 'Mermer' for the Biennale, the Merlion has been loved and lionized, a subject of ridicule, poetry and even contemporary art.

Casting new light on the two myths, Com&Com will present the first episode of The Adventures of Mocmoc & Mermer (2006). In the video, Mocmoc and Mermer go sailing and sunbathing in Swiss lakes, hiking and skiing in the Alps, flying and partying, while searching for the meaning of life."

Brother-in-law: "the section on the adventures of mocmoc and mermer is worth the $ alone.

i can't believe what shd be an outtake from a poor mat yoyo episode can not only pass off as art, but someone cld write one page of that bs

cld this be the funniest joke of the biennale?"

The best of the exhibits was that by Brian Gothong Tan, a 23 year old Filipino, and titled "We Live in a Dangerous World". There was a video screen which, among other things, had a video of a man dressed as Annabel Chong bouncing up and down (but not showing "his" breasts) while shouting "the death penalty is immoral" and a video of Nora Samosir dressed as a Filipino maid, with NTUC Fairprice plastic bags on her shoulders singing Dahil Sayo ("Because Of You") to her employer while looking lovelorn and dancing the Tinikling (a traditional Filipino dance) - using bamboo clothes poles.

Translation of lyrics (from Hot Spots, Dahil Sa'yo):

"To my life,hardship and peinful (sic) is too much.
There is no heaven in loving heart.
And then I am happy. You have taken me out from my suffering.
Only you, sweetheart, are my hope.

I desire to live because of you.
You should know I have no other love
for my life because of you.
Ask my heart.You and only you.
I am happy because of you.
Love is what you presented me.
If I am true, my whole life is offered to you because of you."

Part of "We Live in a Dangerous World"

The spiel on the wall was also good:

"Oh! I'm so happy that a biennale is finally happening in Singapore. I've been to so many biennales all over the world... it is so important for a country to have a biennale! It enriches the soul, it creates culture, it improves tourism... I'm so excited that Barbara Kruger is coming... I'm going to have an orgasm!... how do you pronounce biennale anyway? Is it "bee-nah-lay" or is it "bai-annual" or "bee-nile" or "bee-neeal" or "ba-ni-ni"? Who cares? Biennale! Biennale! Biennale!... they picked such exciting locations like City Hall and Tanglin Camp! Wow! Can you imagine? Turning an Army camp into a contemporary art space? Is it genius or what? I heard Tanglin Camp used to be a medical centre, where soldiers come to hand in their fake medical certificates, or downgrading letters so that they can take time off and visit the latest biennale. Isn't it so much better to invest in art than war? I believe that biennales will solve all problems in our world."

The hammocks were also a plus.

My brother-in-law told me to try a small hammock, then went to lie on a bigger hammock himself. Gah.

All pictures in this post were taken by my brother-in-law, who is a traffic whore. Please visit his blog and leave snide comments, as I and someone have already done.
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