Singapore Art Museum Proudly Presents Its Latest Exhibition,
Sixties Now! you . me . here . now

Sixties Now! explores the relevance of the 60s on contemporary culture in Singapore where history is not perceived as static and rather, made up of memories, which may fade away and be forgotten. On the other hand, it could become more vivid and significant over time. The exhibition is held in conjunction with Heritage Festival ( 9 March - 16 March 2002), themed "Colour Me 60s"

Opens Wednesday, 13 March 2002 Till 19 May 2002 (Upper & Lower Galleries, Singapore Art Museum)

(1 March 2002) Singapore Art Museum is proud to present its latest exhibition, Sixties Now! you me here now which is held in conjunction with Heritage Festival ( 9 March - 16 March 2002). The theme for the festival is "Colour Me 60s". The exhibition will be held from 7 March 2002 to 19 May 2002 in the Upper and Lower Galleries at the Singapore Art Museum.

Sixties Now! is not a show about the 60s. It does not attempt to present a historical and chronological order of key events of the 1960s. As the exhibition title sums it all, it is a show about you and me, here and now. The exhibition explores the continuing relevance of the 1960s on contemporary culture in Singapore. Designers reinterpret the 60s to create "retro" interiors and fashion. Shops selling vintage clothing and furniture are now popular alternatives to the mainstream. Spaces built in the 1960s continue to survive in reinvented form or as mere memories.

There are four areas explored in this exhibition, namely: 'Collecting the 60s', 'Spaces from the 60s', 'Retromall' and 'Responding to the 60s'. This is an attempt to examine the remnants of the 60s, which evokes our memories of what that period was and essentially, deals with questions of identity.

Why does the 60s persist with us? As exhibition curator, Mr Low Sze Wee explains, "Our perception of the past is influenced by the present. Likewise, our perception of the present is also overshadowed by the past. So, in a way, the 60s cannot be consigned easily to the "past" and it continues into the present."

Collecting objects from the 60s ranges from functional objects like fans, furniture to more recreational items like toys and vinyl discs. For whatever particular reasons that people collect, be it a passion or reminiscent of the 'good ol' days', its very physical presence demonstrates the consumption of these 'past' objects in the present day - where they could be used at home, put on display or just stored away.

The most representative of the era's spaces is indeed, public housing, in the form of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats. 85 % of the population live in flats and nine out of 10 owns them. It was born in the 60s and continues to be an overarching influence on the contemporary physical and social landscape of Singapore. The HDB was set up in 1960 to solve the severe housing shortage and also build other facilities like shops, hawker centres, offices, parks community clubs and even bus interchanges for people to live, work and play, creating memories within these physical and social spaces. The notions of home, nationhood and self are interrogated through the artworks of installation artists, Sherman Ong and Tan Kai Syng. Sherman's work is based on his case study of Toa Payoh (one of the oldest HDB flats in Singapore). Whilst Kai Syng's works include two video installations (titled "How Far From the Truths" and "Still Life Every Now & Then & Again") and a wall collage of junk mail comprising leaflets and advertisements from real estate agencies, gathered by the artist over time. It examines issues of home ownership, home as a commodity and forces of the free market economy.

What about our engagement and interpretation of the 60s and how it haunts us? What is our understanding of the 60s and the 'authenticity' of our memories? Artist John Low provides a personal perspective on an overlooked aspect of the 60s - newspaper stories of the supernatural, the bizarre and the unexplained. The use of archival newspaper cuttings questions the authority of documentation and the preoccupation with authenticity. Notions of the "ghost" run parallel with notions of the past leaving "traces" on the present. Just as it is impossible to categorically deny the existence of the supernatural, the past also refuses to go away. This is an ongoing work as John hopes to add more stories in the course of the exhibition.

The "Retromall" depicts the consumption of the 60s, particularly in the area of popular culture in the present day. "Retro" is used to describe a style that revives or harks back to the past. It is everywhere around us. Teenagers wear 70s-inspired fashion. Restaurant interiors are designed to recreate the ambience of old Shanghai. New versions of old "pop" songs periodically top the radio charts. Books, films, music from the 60s both inspire and influence contemporary practioners. Motifs, colours and aesthetics associated with the 60s continue to be reinterpreted or recycled by contemporary designers of furniture and fashion. In an increasingly globalised economy, these retro products are consumed and in turn, reinforce popular notions of what the 60s is supposed to be about.

In this last section of the exhibition, we invite visitors to relax, read books, browse through magazines, listen to music, watch films and look at and touch objects. A limited selection of books, magazines, music, films and design products have been brought together to provide some examples of how the 60s continues to be consumed and reinterpreted. Musician Philip Tan has also been invited to create a sound installation for this section, which will be a collage of sounds associated with the 60s and consumption.

As Mr Low Sze Wee adds, "Our memories make us who we are today. They help us to make sense of the world we live in - our home, our country. Therefore, the idea of home and identity seems inextricably linked to our memories of the 60s." He asks an important and rhetorical question,"Yet, in a world where we are bombarded with more and more information and images, how much can we remember before we start forgetting ?"

The 1960s was a colourful, dramatic and even turbulent period in Singapore. The exhibition will examine how this period is remembered, erased, perceived, reinvented and reconstructed in Singapore today.

The Singapore Art Museum would like to thank the following sponsors: APD Singapore Pte Ltd, Apple Computer South Asia Pte Ltd, Philips Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd, Space Furniture and Thames & Hudson (S) Pte Ltd.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the following collectors who have generously given their time and lent their collections for the exhibition: Y. F. Chang, Ng Boon Long, Peter Tay, C. K. Toh and Singapore History Museum.

Exhibition Opens to the Public
: 7 March 2002 - 19 May 2002
Upper & Lower Galleries, Singapore Art Museum


Artist in Residence program involving artists from Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore
from SINGAPORE: Jeremy Hiah, Khiew Huey Chian, Jason Lim, John Low, Suzann Victor
from AUSTRALIA: Destiny Deacon, Jane Finlay, Joan Grounds, Erin Hefferon, Lucas Ihlein
from HONG KONG, Cedric Chan Ho Fung, Anthony Leung, Fiona Wong Lai Ching, John Wong Chi Wai, Zunzi Wong Ki Wan

ARX 5 wishes to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Australia Council, the Commonwealth Government’s arts funding and advisory body; the State of WA through Arts WA in association with the Lotteries Commission; the International Foundation for Arts & Culture; the Myer Foundation; sponsorship from Healthway to promote the Family Planning Association’s "Play it Safe" message; Arts Victoria and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.

ARX5 5 has been made possible through a partnership between Artists' Regional Exchange, Singapore Art Museum, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Centre for the Arts, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture.



Singapore may well be one of the most wired cities in South East Asia, with ever increasing wireless LAN networks in workplaces, Singapore ONE potentially linking all homes to the information highway. The IT Master Plans launched by the Ministry of Education, assembling impressive IT infrastructure, of different scale, into all schools, promises engaged learning in an IT culture. With an increasingly techno-savvy, techno-oriented audience, does it change expectations and perceptions of art in Singapore?

Art and Technology are often seen as two different disciplines but with convergent ideals, functions and audience. They can be said to hold the principle that they are made by people, for people. ‘new’ Art or new ways of seeing art and technological advances pushes set boundaries, questions the way societies, communities and nations think and behave, or make money. Some live on, for one or the other. Whilst the current generation of students in Singapore are more IT-savvy, because of a greater promotion in the arts they may have had more exposure to visual art than the previous generation did.

The relationship is symbiotic; art offers new or different perspectives of looking at people and things, while technology enables artists to use new media to express these perspectives. One may be specific and read the terms to refer to contemporary art and contemporary Technology. The former will remind us of artworks that are explicit to our socio-cultural context, the latter referring to skills or equipment that are the epitome of our age: cloning, the Internet, et al. One such intersection, we get cyber-arts. Where the two disciplines fail to meet or are incompatible, we have possibly 3 scenarios. Firstly, artists in caves; secondly, artists whose lives are engaged by technology but not necessarily making works criticising modern technology since there is so much to life; and artists with gadgets.

How one sees artists ‘engage’ technology in the process of art making is purely a question of taste whether one likes or dislikes the technique.

Text: Lim Kok Boon
Concept: Vincent Leow

PKW is proud to present “Art in Conversation with Technology” as part of its multi disciplinary talk on contemporary art in Singapore. Consisting of 3 sessions various practising artists will be presenting their works followed by floor discussion. The focus will be on how and why artists engage or disengage with technology in the process of art making.

The talk is free but limited seats available. Please call or email us early for reservations to avoid disappointment.

For more information on the invited artists, please contact the Gallery at: T +65 6292 7783 : F +65 6292 2936.

060903 Saturday

10.00 am
Introduction by Lim Kok Boon

Session 1 (10.15 am - 12.15 pm)
Does technology enable artists to express their art better?
Margaret Tan, Wil-kie Tan, Lim Kok Boon (moderator), Cheo Chai-Hiang and Cecily Briggs

12.30pm–1.30pm LUNCH

Session 2 (1.30pm. – 3.30pm)
Is contemporary art defined by the usage of technology?
Lim Shing Ee, Ye Shufang, Venka Purushothaman (moderator), Colin Reaney, Michael Lee

3.30pm. – 4.00pm TEA AND COFFEE BREAK

Session 3 (4.00pm – 6.00pm)
Do artists engage technology in their works, a question of choice or trend?
Lee Sze-Chin, Paul Lincoln, Pwee Kheng Hock (moderator), John Low, Khiew Huey Chian

Artists involved:
John Low

John Low works with a variety of media for his installation works. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Art at Curtin University and lectures at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.