OH! Potong Pasir will take you on an aesthetic trip into the neighbourhood’s days of future past

As a neighbourhood, Potong Pasir has always been encased in a bubble of eccentric nostalgia. The municipality is a world of its own, like a diorama of life in ’80s Singapore — but things are quickly changing of course, like everything else in the country. 

Once a stronghold of Singapore’s oldest opposition figure Chiam See Tong for three decades, the neighbourhood has been undergoing a crash course of modern amenities ever since the ruling People’s Action Party took over in 2011. But even before that, Potong Pasir was once dominated by sand quarries, farms, ponds, and even the Alkaff Lake Gardens — which disappeared after 1945 following the Japanese occupation. 

With such a rich history, it’s this place that the folks behind OH! Open House chose to take root this year for their annual art walkabouts. Once again, they’ll be taking visitors into various homes, locales and hidden levels that’ll provide a deeper, poetic look into the neighbourhood through art. 


Coconuts Singapore @ OH! Potong Pasir media walkabout

We were recently invited by OH! Open House for a sneak preview of their latest art walkabout in the very unique surroundings of Potong Pasir! Exciting stuff awaits you come March 13th — be sure to stay tuned on their website (http://ohopenhouse.org/potongpasir/) for more details.

Posted by Coconuts Singapore on Thursday, 3 March 2016


READ: Step into strangers’ houses in Open House Joo Chiat

Inspired by spaces of Potong Pasir that no longer exist, the artworks for the upcoming edition of OH! Open House art walk will tell stories involving the neighbourhood’s incarnations — the sand quarry, the pond, the kampung, Bidadari Cemetery, and Alkaff Gardens. 

The theme of transition also comes into play for OH! Potong Pasir — and it’s especially apropos considering the volume of renovations and akan datang upgrades to the district. 

OH2016 will take place in Potong Pasir — a place in transition. Photo: OH! Open House

“The landscape of Potong Pasir has undergone drastic changes in the last century,” remarked OH! Open House artistic director Alan Oei. 

“There is no physical evidence left of many of the spaces that have shaped its narrative. OH! Potong Pasir explores these erased histories within the context of perpetual construction and upgrading in Potong Pasir, where there is a palpable sense of transition.”

Jacob Ballas Bridge in Saint Andrew’s Village. Photo: OH! Open House

Along the Jacob Ballas Bridge in Saint Andrew’s Village, two kinetic sandscapes take centre stage — a hark back to Potong Pasir’s sand quarries and the theme of metamorphosis. Ong Kian Peng explains that the fans in one installation and a looping water feature in the other help create a constant flux of forms and shapes for its sandy elements, creating permutating shapes. 

Ong Kian Peng explaining his art installations. 
Sandscapes constantly changing form. 

A new addition to the art walk was also announced — a platform titled OH!pen Call will be featuring art and community projects by individual artists spread across Potong Pasir’s public areas. Visitors will be able to roam free and unguided among seven public projects that encourage interaction. 

(HOUSE)plants by Megan Miao and Adrian Tan. Residents and visitors can freely water the plants if they want to. 

Some of those we saw were Megan Miao and Adrian Tan’s (HOUSE)plants — stories of Potong Pasir through residents’ horticulture — as well as Tay Ining and Justin Tan’s Pock Pock Rock, an interactive installation made up of rubble from construction sites in the area. 

Pock Pock Rock by Tay Ining and Justin Tan, a work in progress consisting of rubble from a demolished basketball court that used to exist nearby.
Pock Pock Rock by Tay Ining and Justin Tan.

The last stop in the media walkabout had us travel yonder to an old colonial house, where Michelle Lim sat in a crater she dug in the garden, attempting to build a mud house around herself. Using clay and excavated soil from the garden, she’s building a couple of very perishable structures around as a visceral ode to the cycle of destruction and construction in Singapore.

Nearby a small treehouse in the garden is transformed into a botanical black box by Guo Yixiu. Her piece references the lost Alkaff Gardens as well as the disappearing green landscapes of the former Bidadari Cemetery. 

The ephemeral mud houses of Michelle Lim. 
Guo Yixiu’s botanical black box — though you’re not supposed to climb up there actually. 

All these and more come March 13, when OH! Potong Pasir launches — regular tours go at $25 while a special ‘Director’s Cut’ edition ($45) will be happening on Mar 12. Ticketing info and more details available on the OH! Open House website

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