With their main museum buildings undergoing renovation, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) has become roving nomads as they find new, unusual venues to stage contemporary art, taking the art out of the galleries and now, into libraries with the SAM Mini Mobile Museum.
Held in partnership with the National Library Board, the travelling art exhibition is set to bring contemporary art out of the city centre and into the heartlands at the Regional Libraries of Tampines, Woodlands and Jurong, introducing the neighbourhoods and everyday Singaporean to the multifaceted nature of contemporary art through a selection of SAM’s National Collection artworks, adapted for non-museum spaces and created by Southeast Asian artists.
The first installment of the SAM Mini Mobile Museum will take place at the Tampines Regional Library starting 4th April, featuring award-winning Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya’s May tainga ang lupa (The Land has Ears), an adaptation of the suite of dioramas created by Tapaya in 2009 that are currently part of the National Collection. Tapaya’s works draw from the rich mythology of the Philippines, harnessing the fables, folklore and legends of the many indigenous groups that once existed across the archipelago. The commissioned artwork for the SAM Mini Mobile Museum brings these legends into the now by weaving in contemporary issues such as environmental damage, urban poverty, pollution and land scarcity.
May tainga ang lupa (The Land has Ears) comprises 62 modular hexagonal lightboxes grouped around themes of Land, Water, Fire, Plants, Animals, Human and Spirit World. Each lightbox depicts an individual story or scene, and responds to a suite of four diorama artworks created by Tapaya in 2009, that is part of the National Collection: Pedro and the Witch, The Hunter of Pinamaloy, Origin of Grain and The Wise Monkey and the Foolish Giant.
Tapaya’s work is often multi-medium in nature, using folktales and pre-colonial historical research to inform his work as he creates whimsical montages of characters drawn from both myth and his own creation, reflecting on a particular time or place with resonance. The Mobile Exhibition will be accompanied by self-guided and interactive activities for families, and a special selection of library books that relate to the artwork themes will be on display. Tapaya himself will be present to lead on-site workshops based on his work for various groups.
Says June Yap, Director of Curatorial, Programmes and Publications, Singapore Art Museum: “The SAM Mini Mobile Museum exhibition is a great opportunity for SAM to connect with communities in Tampines, Jurong and Woodlands, with commissioned artworks specially developed for the library environment, and that encourage close study and experience. We expect that the fables and narratives that have inspired Rodel Tapaya’s artwork May tainga ang lupa (The Land has Ears) will resonate with viewers at Tampines Regional Library, allowing them to draw connections on cultures and storytelling between Singapore and the region.”
Says Valerie Cheng, Director, Content & Services, Public Library Services, National Library Board: “It is wonderful to partner SAM to host the specially curated art exhibition. It is a tie up which will give patrons a varied learning experience when they visit our libraries. They can learn more about Southeast Asian contemporary art not only through the exhibition, but also the programmes and our collection. We believe that this will inspire more people to read and learn.”
May tainga ang lupa (The Land has Ears) runs from 3rd April to 12th May 2019 at Tampines Regional Library. For more information, visit their website here