S’pore Art Museum opens Friday with musical mushrooms, forced flirting

‘Refuse’ by local experimental band The Observatory. Photo: Singapore Art Museum
‘Refuse’ by local experimental band The Observatory. Photo: Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum is opening its new unique location Friday with a glut of things to see and experience – and even more peculiar exhibitions. 

The museum known as SAM will launch its new, larger space by the shipping ports of Tanjong Pagar Distripark with at least five installations by local and regional artists showcasing everything from mushrooms that make music, mandatory flirting zones, and cyborgs made out of auto parts.

“With its unique location in a historic port and near heritage neighbourhoods, we hope that SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark will be a new art destination for people of all ages and backgrounds to discover contemporary art, create new memories and connections, and be inspired by different perspectives about our world today as well as our possible futures,” Director Eugene Tan said. 

Situated right next to the Tanjong Pagar Terminal near its defunct but iconic railway station, the museum can now show larger-scale, immersive works to audiences, bringing experimental, multidisciplinary art, family-friendly exhibitions, talks, and workshops to all. 

The future remains unclear for its previous space at Bras Basah, which has been closed for years due to delayed renovation work.

But the new space spans over 3,000sqm across two floors that include two galleries and a multipurpose space on the first. The museum’s offices and a residency area are on the upper floor. Visitors can also take a beak from all the art for a sip in the 20-seat cafe bookshop by Epigram Bookshop and Balestier Market Collective while looking out over the port.

‘Korakrit Arunanondchai: A Machine Boosting Energy into the Universe’ by Korakrit Arunanondchai. Photo: Singapore Art Museum

Friday’s opening will kick off with a variety of shows from the likes of experimental band The Observatory, Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai, Malaysian artist Gan Siong King, and the museum’s own residents Chu Hao Pei, Salty Xi Jie Ng, and Johann Yamin.

At Refuse, The Observatory joins forces with mycological design studio Bewilder to show that mushrooms can, too, make music with their emission of carbon dioxide and other gases which are then converted into sounds.

This art-science exhibition coincides with the 20th anniversary of experimental art rock outfit The Observatory, which is looking into making art with nature. At the new SAM, they are exploring the decomposition of fungi and composing of music informed by biology and music. The space is filled with 1,200 crates of recycled wooden pallets heaped with old musical instruments such as guitars, and a drum set blossom with fantastic fungi.

Next door, catch Korakrit’s mixed media creations delving into a post-apocalyptic world where electronics, auto parts, and clothing bring cyborgs to life. There’s also a video presenting 21st century Bangkok as a place where humans, machines, and spirits have intertwined in everyday life.

At the end of the first floor, a multi-purpose events hall called The Engine Room will host viewings of Malaysian artist Gan Siong King’s video essays and installations of electric guitar amplifiers, pop culture, internet memes and culture in Malaysia. Even the viewing benches were specially designed to allow viewers to feel the vibrations from the installations. 

In between the galleries and the spaces, look out for the Flirting Point by art collective Vertical Submarine. Find out how flirty you’re really feeling at the interactive installation meant to prove that players will only make moves at designated locations when instructed to rather than spontaneously.

On the upper floor, SAM resident artists Chu Hao Pei, Salty Xi Jie Ng, and Johann Yamin have curated mini exhibitions on cultural loss across Southeast Asia, grief, rituals, ancestor worship and Chinese religions, and the histories of esports.

In other words, it’s a whole lot to see starting Friday. Find more program deets online.

‘Flirting Point’ by Vertical Submarine. Photo: Singapore Art Museum

‘Refuse’ by The Observatory. Photo: Singapore Art Museum

‘Refuse’ by The Observatory. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

‘Refuse’ by The Observatory. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

‘Refuse’ by The Observatory. Photo: Singapore Art Museum

‘Refuse’ by The Observatory. Photo: Singapore Art Museum

‘Refuse’ by The Observatory. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

Chu Hao Pei’s work under ‘Present Realms.’ Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

‘Gan Siong King: My Video Making Practice’ by Gan Siong King. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

FIND IT

Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark

39 Keppel Road, #01-02 Tanjong Pagar Distripark

Open 10am to 7pm daily

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