A look at some current and upcoming exhibitions as we usher in the new year

Asian Civilisations Museum

A trio of new exhibitions are now showing at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) till Feb 28. Together, the three exhibitions spotlight the community of people behind one of the pioneering galleries in the region to specialise in pan-Asian cultures through stories gathered from staff, tenants, partners, artists and collectors.

Faith Beauty Love Hope — Our Stories, Your ACM presents more than 60 treasures from ACM’s extensive collection. Displayed at the Special Exhibitions Gallery on level two, the showing offers visitors the opportunity to experience these objects both physically and emotionally, as they read anecdotes and musings from the ACM community. These include contributions from a conservator, a security supervisor, student volunteers and museum director Kennie Ting, among many others.

At a time when we are separated from loved ones due to geographical and physical distancing measures, technology has allowed us to stay connected through memories and renewed conversations. A digital presentation will accompany the exhibition, featuring other pieces handpicked by ACM’s staff and partners.

Meanwhile, Perfect Stranger is a contemporary installation by Singaporean artist Dawn Ng, greeting visitors with a vast sea of paper washed in a gradient of words and colour. Acting as a narrative time capsule, the installation stems from her daily question and answer project in 2016, where she exchanged thoughts with a stranger — Israeli psychologist Zehavit Efrati, who was based in Singapore at the time — every day over the course of a year.

First shown in 2018, this iteration presents the work in its entirety for the first time, staged in the artist’s originally conceived format. Visitors are invited to choose their own adventure here, as they are free to weave between the artworks into Ng’s world and reflect on their own sense of time, sense and self in 2020.

Finally, thINK: Chinese Calligraphy, Connoisseurship and Collecting will see ACM marry contemporary history with the collection of long-time lender to ACM Dr Yuan Shao Liang, who has supported the museum since it first opened at the old Tao Nan School at Armenian Street in 1997.

Twenty-three objects were selected from Dr Yuan’s extensive collection as well as books and letters from important personalities from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The exhibition aims to evoke personal responses towards the act of remembering and collecting, as visitors are introduced to human relationships, political sentiments, military affairs and antiquity trading via the Chinese ink and literati pieces.

thINK: Chinese Calligraphy, Connoisseurship and Collecting will run till Apr 25. For more details, visit www.nhb.gov.sg/acm

Singapore Art Week 2021

Jan 22 to 30

Singapore Art Week (SAW), Singapore’s annual festival often seen as the peak of Asia’s visual arts calendar, is set to take over the island this month.

Running from Jan 22 to 30, SAW 2021 will celebrate the coming together of Singapore’s art community, celebrating resilience, innovation and solidarity.

Staying true to SAW’s theme of Art Takes Over, the ninth edition of the festival will be presented for the first time in a “blended format”, with over 100 programmes across both physical and digital platforms, allowing audiences from around the world to discover and experience Southeast Asian art.

This is also a reflection of the evolving arts scene, as audiences are now able to enjoy art anywhere as they are no longer confined to a physical location, says Tay Tong, the National Art Council’s director of sector development for visual arts.

Signature SAW events are set to return: Light to Night Festival 2021 (which is built around the new theme of “_____-in-progress”), State of Motion 2021: [Alternate/ Opt] Realities by Asian Film Archive, ARTWALK at Little India by Lasalle College of the Arts and S.E.A. Focus 2021 by STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery.

For more information on SAW 2021 programmes, visit www.artweek.sg

open books: I Want To Go Home

Jan 22 to Feb 28

In conjunction with the Light to Night Festival 2021, The Arts House presents its signature outdoor installation — open books on the front porch. From Jan 22 to Feb 28, audiences can explore this experiential art installation, which takes inspiration from Singaporean author and filmmaker Wesley Leon Aroozoo’s non-fiction novel I Want To Go Home.

In the book, the concept of home takes on a metaphorical meaning as it tells the story of how Mr Yasuo Takamatsu lost his wife to the tsunami during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Since then, he has been diving in the sea every week in search of her.

Readers will be taken on a journey of his recovery process and learn how love, hope and determination can help with the healing process.

Responding to the chosen text, this multi-sensory installation is a collaborative project involving Singaporean artists and is designed by arts education platform Mural Lingo.

There will also be a commissioned mural art painting that integrates multimedia elements to create an intimate projection experience with soundscape and footage from the documentary film featuring an interview with Mr Takamatsu.

Among other things, the audience will be treated to an intimate nautical underwater projection and mural art. They will also be able to read and tune into selected excerpts from the book, as part of an audio-visual experience.

Shortlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2021, Aroozoo is a multi-disciplinary artist with 13 Little Pictures and a lecturer-in-charge at Lasalle College of the Arts. Published by Math Paper Press in 2017, I Want to Go Home was accompanied with a film rendition, which was nominated for the Mecenat Award at the Busan International Film Festival 2017.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to have The Arts House and Mural Lingo reimagine I Want to Go Home as an art installation for open books. This marks the third form of expression for the extraordinary story of Mr Takamatsu, after the literary work and film. Creating the art installation from heartfelt discussions between The Arts House and Mural Lingo with myself and Miki Hawkinson, the Japanese translator of the literary work, I am excited for the fresh perspective and new immersive experience that open books will present to the audience,” says Aroozoo.

The installation will be open from 10am to 10pm at The Arts House and admission is free. For details, visit www.theartshouse.sg/whats-on-details/exhibition/open-books-i-want-to-go-home