Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture: Singapore Art Museum launches new art destination at Tanjong Pagar Distripark

SINGAPORE — An exciting line-up of exhibitions and art experiences by local artists including experimental band The Observatory, art collective vertical submarine and SAM’s pilot Residents, alongside international artists like Korakrit Arunanondchai and Gan Siong King await visitors as SAM opens its new space in Tanjong Pagar Distripark from 14 January onwards. The exhibitions and art experiences will be complemented by free and ticketed on-site activities for a wide range of audiences.

Spanning two floors with over 3,000 square metres, SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark was first announced alongside SAM’s new strategic direction in 2021, signaling its shift away from the four walls of a museum as part of its plans to diffuse art into various parts of Singapore.

“The opening of SAM’s new space in Tanjong Pagar Distripark marks a key milestone for us as SAM brings the experience of art to unexpected and everyday spaces,” says Dr Eugene Tan, Director of SAM. “This expansive space allows us to showcase large-scale works and installations – from experimental, multidisciplinary art, to multi-sensorial family-friendly exhibitions. The space is purposefully designed to spark collaborations between our partners, artists, and audiences, and will be a key site for talks, workshops, and programmes. 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.”

Expansive galleries for experimental art-making and immersive installations

SAM’s new space on Level 1 in Tanjong Pagar Distripark features two climate-controlled galleries that will host large-scale exhibitions by Singapore-based band The Observatory, and Thai-born and US-based artist Korakrit Arunanondchai respectively.

In Gallery 1, the larger of the two galleries, The Observatory presents REFUSE, an immersive world inspired by the bifold meaning of “refuse” as waste and detritus, and as defiant gestures and resistance. Comprising an inter-media exhibition about music, mushrooms, and decomposition, this presentation brings together the band’s interest in fungi and mycelial networks to explore decomposition and composition from biological and musical perspectives. Working with a close-knit network of collaborators, REFUSE decks the gallery out with towering stacks of recycled wooden pallets that hold glass jars of live mushrooms. The bio rhythms from these mushrooms are then converted into sounds.

The Observatory shares, “REFUSE is an effort between us and a network of collaborators – encompassing mycology design (Bewilder), scenography installation (Sai aka Chen Sai Hua Kuan), archival advice (Ujikaji), moving image (Yeo Siew Hua), and guest curation (Tang Fu Kuen). Making work that is complex or difficult has always excited us, and REFUSE is no different. Our collaborators pushed us as much as we pushed them, creating a presentation that far exceeded what we initially thought possible. Delving into themes of rot, regeneration, and de-composition through fungi, REFUSE marks both a bio-turn in our practice by engaging with the nonhuman, and furthering explorations into the multimodal forms of communicating sound.”

Korakrit Arunanondchai’s A Machine Boosting Energy into the Universe transforms Gallery 2 into a post-apocalyptic environment with used electronics, auto parts, and clothing that have been refashioned into cyborgian figures. A site-specific manifestation of the artist’s 2015-16 video installation, Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3, will unfold in the space. As the inaugural presentation of SAM’s long-term curatorial agenda titled Material Intelligence, this exhibition explores the coming together of craft and industrial modes of production, advanced technologies, and spiritual beliefs, inviting visitors to be in communion not just with each other, but also with machines and ghosts.

Versatile spaces for art encounters, collaborative exchanges, and programming

SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark also aims to be a key platform for enabling connections between the museum’s visitors through public programmes, as well as active collaboration and co-creation.

“Our programming at Tanjong Pagar Distripark reflects our interest in creating an expanded space of representation and understanding, where both our artists and publics are deeply engaged. With these new, flexible spaces, we hope to provide artists with more opportunities to experiment, collaborate and interact with wider and different communities. Visitors can also expect to encounter innovative and interdisciplinary artistic practices that speak to contemporary issues,” says Dr June Yap, Director of Curatorial & Collections at SAM.

On Level 1, the multi-purpose space The Engine Room will host Gan Siong King: My Video Making Practice, featuring the Malaysian artist’s engagements with the medium of video. The exhibition features two of his works, Kecek Amplifier Bersama Nik Shazwan (2019) and My Video Making Practice (2021). The installation also features specially designed benches made in collaboration with researchers at Singapore Institute of Technology, which make use of low-frequency vibration to accompany high-frequency audio from the video works, resulting in a richer viewing experience for visitors. From March 2022, screenings of My Video Making Practice will take place on selected weekends, alongside dialogue sessions with the artist and a series of different moderators.

Common areas in SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark are also spaces for art encounters for visitors upon arrival. At the Level 1 reception foyer, cross-disciplinary art collective vertical submarine presents an updated version of Flirting Point. An interactive installation, Flirting Point invites visitor to reflect on social interactions, which takes on renewed meaning in the current time of social distancing. Two new artwork commissions by Singapore-based artists Hazel Lim-Schlegel and Andreas Schlegel in collaboration with neuewave, as well as Michael Lee will also enliven the common areas outside SAM’s space on Level 1, and the side gate entrance at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. Please refer to Annex A for more details.

In the spirit of engaging visitors as active collaborators, SAM’s pilot Residents Chu Hao Pei, Salty Xi Jie Ng, and Johann Yamin, will be presenting their continued explorations into diverse topics of interest such as rice, rituals, and gaming in Present Realms at the Level 3 residency spaces. Marking the conclusion of the pilot SAM Residencies programme, Present Realms reflects the shared and interactive working environment that defines SAM Residencies, extending these exchanges to visitors, who are invited to participate in the further development of their research.

To complete the visitor’s art experience at SAM in Tanjong Pagar Distripark, a 20-seater coffee bookshop operated by Epigram Bookshop and Balestier Market Collective will overlook the port and offer visitors a space to relax, refresh themselves and pick up local book titles. A pop up experience is planned for Singapore Art Week, with the coffee bookshop slated to open by mid-2022.

Explore and connect with SAM during Singapore Art Week 2022

As a key partner for Singapore Art Week (SAW) 2022, SAM will also be presenting a series of live performances, talks, and family-friendly activities at Tanjong Pagar Distripark in January, tying in with SAM’s opening programmes. These include a ticketed performance titled Wanderlust@SAM, free family weekend activities on SAMily Fundays, free workshops for children such as 101 Ways to Make Music with Playeum, as well as SAW Dialogues with artists including Korakrit Arunanondchai. In addition, there will be a photobooth at the reception foyer for visitors to capture photos with their friends and family from 1 to 7pm on the weekends during SAW. More details on SAM’s SAW 2022 programmes may be found in Annex B.

SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark is located at 39 Keppel Road, #01-02 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065. Open from 10am to 7pm daily, admission is free for all visitors from 14 January to 14 February 2022 to celebrate the first month of its opening. Thereafter, standard admission rates apply.

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