Maya sitting on one of Ngoc Duong Pham's Maggots

El naufragio de los hombres (The wreck of men), by Charly Nijensohn

Knitted scooter, part of Tropicana, by E Chen

I'm not Expensive by Yong Deok Lee

detail from Zadok Ben-Davis's Blackfield

On Saturday we headed to City Hall to view the art displayed there as part of the Singapore Biennale. It shows my ignorance of Singapore, but I didn't know this building existed, even though there is an MRT station named after it. According to the Biennale blurb, it is a "landmark" building and was where Admiral Mountbatten accepted surrender of the Japanese army in 1945 and also where Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew proclaimed self-government for Singapore in 1959, and then announced that Singapore was an independent republic in 1965.

The huge building housed the 2006 Singapore Biennale, and after th 2008 Biennale will be converted into the National Art Gallery, due to open in 2013. There is certain plenty of space to exhibit art. There seemed like an endless number of rooms leading off corridors the length and breadth of the building. Some of the rooms are still labeled as court rooms and have the original wood paneling intact.

The kids (Maya and her friends) enjoyed wandering through the different exhibits. Some resonated with them, some drew their attention enough for them to ask questions about the process and some fascinated. It is always lovely to see how children react to different art forms.

Favourites were Zadok Ben-Davis's Blackfield, a forest of tiny flowers and trees cut out of painted aluminium. Looking from one side the shapes are all black, and reminded me of the scorched landscape after an Australian bushfire. Looking from the other end of the room the flowers and trees are cheerfully coloured.

Another favourite with both adults and children was the atmospheric video installation by Charly Nijensohn called El naufragio de los hombres (The wreck of men). Filmed in an eerie salt desert of Bolivia during the rainy season, the images are both beautiful and disturbing.

There is plenty here to keep children amused and we must have spent a couple of hours wandering around. There is a kids' area on the ground floor which is always open for children to make use of for drawing if they feel inspired.


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