Hello again

So sorry for the radio silence.

We’ve been busy with Post-PopUp, which is coming to a close at the end of this month. Wow, 4 months have flown by!

Come join us for Singapore Really Really Free Market 32, in Post-PopUp, this coming Sat (25 Oct) from 2-7pm. This would be one of the last things we are doing there and it should be a fun one. Come by for D&D game, juggling and tarot card reading, etc. More info here.

Besides SRRFM32, come see Koh Nguang How’s excellent exhibition entitled “Shui Tit Sing – 100 Years of an Artist through his Archives”. It’s an important show about an almost forgotten artist, and 2 artists, John Low and Cai Qin, are intervening with their work. It’s an interesting experience, don’t miss it. The exhibition is only on until Sun (26 Oct); more info here.

Well, hope to see you this Sat in Post-PopUp.

Otherwise, stay tuned for more info on Awaken the Dragon, which is coming up next month!


Xinyao 32 years later



It wasn’t totally unexpected that such a large crowd would attend The Songs We Sang: Back to Book City (我们唱着的歌:重返书城) this Sunday afternoon (6 Jul). It was after all a free event and a rare occasion to enjoy xinyao (新谣), a local Mandarin folk music movement that began in 1982, peaked in the late 80s and has pretty much died down now.

I wasn’t a fan of xinyao then, being more of a “chiak kentang” and listening to Perfect 10 and American Top 40s. My younger sister however was very much into it, listening to Mandarin music and hanging out with friends who would sing original compositions in music cafes (民歌餐厅) way into the 90s. For me, though I have heard xinyao on radio and during SBC Channel 8 programmes when I was younger, it wasn’t really a part of my growing up years and I don’t have special memories of it.

I came to appreciate the xinyao movement rather belatedly in the recent years when learning more about Singapore culture(s). I think that even though the xinyao movement seems to have almost vanished by now, it is actually still there, in form and in spirit. Xinyao was written by Singaporeans and told of family, friendship, growing up, love, disappointments, dreams, and of our country in the 80s and before. The lyrics which spoke of almost universally local experiences are still close to our hearts and relevant to our lives today. Many of the singers and songwriters, though having ceased their singing careers, have continued to work in media or started schools to nurture younger music talents. Their presence is still very much felt and they continue to influence many of the singers and songwriters in the Mandarin music scene today. In addition, the spirit of xinyao is one of love of Singapore, a can-do attitude and looking towards a better future – one that is inspiring and necessary today. In short, xinyao, besides being an important part of many personal histories, is a valuable intangible cultural heritage that we possess.

It was extremely moving to see 2,000 people crammed into Bras Basah Complex for the event. They gathered around the performance area, trying to see the performers on stage, shouting out answers to questions, laughing at the jokes, singing along with the songs, waving their arms, clapping to the rhythm and applauding the singers. The brief rain and subsequent humidity didn’t deter them from standing there for more than 2 hours that afternoon. The audience who were there more than 30 years ago are now older, as were the singers, many of whom are around 50 now. And with them are younger people who have encountered the songs over the years as well as children who have come with their parents.

It was an event full of nostalgia, yes, but it was also one of celebration and hope. Xinyao, a ground-up movement, has succeeded in touching the hearts of Singaporeans like nothing else has, and this Sunday afternoon was proof that xinyao lives on and remains relevant today as when it first started thirty-two years ago. And I, for one, am grateful to have experienced its magic this time round. I am also really looking forward to the release of the documentary film, The Songs We Sang, directed by Eva Tang, later this year. As they say, “Long live xinyao! (新谣万岁!)”




Can Space Speak?

More than [show] business: Post-PopUp at CCA
13 June – 1 October 2014
Studio #01-07, Block 38 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks

More than [show] business is a collaborative project between CCA – Centre for Contemporary Art and Post–Museum. This collaboration is conceived as a platform for exploring different curatorial formats and ways of presenting and distributing art.

We are looking for proposals from individuals and groups who will use the space as a platform for cultural production and activity. How can a space be inhabited? How can a space respond to multiple uses, shift identity and open up to different forms of engagement? How can a space produce context? How can one negotiate with the inherent restrictions in using an institutional space within a temporary framework? How open is an open space?

Proposals will be selected on a basis of how to use a space in a generative and critical nature.

Please send us your ideas and proposals at admin@post-museum.org! We embrace various formats for activities.

Proposals of a maximum of 500 words due on 4 July 2014.

Proposals will be selected on the basis of content, practicality and feasibility. The selected proposals will unfold throughout July, August and September.

The Post-PopUp is hosted within one of the CCA artists’ studios as a site for events, happenings, artistic experiments, hanging out and spontaneity. The programme will unfold in several episodes, bringing together institutional, curatorial and artistic gestures. More than [show] business is a space that could be tested for a future of co-constituted creative spaces and artistic communities in Singapore, looking at institution building in tandem with artistic practice. Going beyond exhibition making as artistic output, More than [show] business at Post-PopUp at CCA invites those to engage with other aspects involved in artistic production, the discursive event, the community group and the overnight show.

Figure adapted from “Model of a ‘praxis’of creativity and explanatory notes” (Heather Chi, 2011) for Post-PopUp at CCA, Gillman Barracks, Singapore, June-Sept 2014.

Used with kind permission from the author.*


* Chi,Heather (2011) Can Space Speak?Independence, Creativity and Social Action in Singapore: A Case Study of Post-Museum. Unpublished B. Soc. Sc. Honours thesis, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore.


The project More than [show] business – Post-PopUp at CCA is a collaborative effort between Post-Museum and CCA, led by curators Anca Rujoiu and Vera Mey, with the additional support of the National Arts Council (NAC).


We are working with Centre for Contemporary Art on a Post-PopUp in Gillman Barracks from June-Sep. As per our previous space in Rowell Rd, we would like this to be a shared space for the arts, culture and civil society. Therefore, we are seeking proposals for events, projects and collaborations. If you are interested, please send a brief email to admin at post-museum dot org by 8 June and we will contact you to discuss it further.

Freedom of speech?

There are many ways our freedom of speech could be curtailed without outright censorship. The recent week or so has thrown up a few examples which could be considered as such.

1. MDA proposes amendments to the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act, including arts groups self-classifying their works and more power to MDA. See our previous post.

2. Lee Wen was assaulted in Hong Kong after he criticised the detainment of Chen Guang after he staged a performance art work commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre. [News article]

3. PM Lee Hsien Loong sued blogger Roy Ngerng (The Heart Truths) for defamation over his article which points out similarities between the City Harvest case and the CPF. Read his blog post about it here.

Unfortunately, these are neither new nor shocking. Benjamin Franklin said this 300 years ago: “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” Will we heed his warning and do something about this before we have no freedom left?