I have not got the chance to visit the Singapore Biennial, but fortunately there was an online tour that takes you through different parts of the exhibition, where they even have a 360 Panaromic view of each exhibition. One that caught my attention the most was the scrolls’ section. This was created by Veronica Troncoso who produced the scrolls with writings from her own personal archives of migrants and students whom she interviewed. From memory and trauma, exile and migration, these were common topics in the writings of these scrolls.
It relates well to me, where, even though I consider myself Singaporean-Muslim myself, I have thought migration and its implications to my routine lifestyle, the norms and how I would relate differently to locals in the migrated place that I would go to. And regarded how different it would from place I migrated away from.
It also brings forth the idea of how our identity is always misshapen by stereotypes and prejudice -which also depends on which culture you come from, which community you are a part of, and how as a foreigner, you try to blend yourself into a said community that you have wanted to call home. When I made a short visit to Turkey last year, I had the opportunity to meet so many Turkish people, who were Muslims like me, and visit their cultural museums like Beylerbeyi Palace where Ottoman sultans used to live.
It gave me a sense of solidarity when we met, unexpectedly, and that curious to learn more about these people, also made this experience a rather interesting. And it was simply because we shared similar faiths – Islam and how our cultures, as worlds apart are very similar in more ways than we can imagine. However, there are instance where my foreignness is disregarded, and sometimes perceived as a nuisance. And I guess that is consequence of being seen as unfamiliar to some people.
From that experience, it has made me more aware that there are cultural implications to migration. And these personal anecdotes resemble how each person quietly suffers the negative perception of locals when they decide to migrate. I think migration is a personal choice that people need to consider, and I guess these anecdotes are personal reminders to all of us, that we are subjected to some form of prejudice – whether good or bad (hopefully good).
Hence, this part of the exhibition impressed me the most.
Personally, there were not a lot of works that I particularly connected with at the ADM Gallery. I liked how the trail of words from a letter were a way to code people to direct themselves from one place to another in an exhibition.
Unfortunately, in this ADM Gallery, the only thing that fascinated me was the shadows. They looked dream-like.
In the bigger picture, when it comes to both museums and their message or objective behind the work, I felt that it followed a very broad theme between past and present. I don’t particularly have strong feelings regarding how both of them are. The range of mediums used were very broad, and their focus on sub-themes were very different from one another.