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Culture Night With the Snobs

14 May

Singapore may be one of the world’s most advanced nations as of today and in accordance to that, we expect the country to have a great healthcare system, good public infrastructure, and a fair government. They do have all that, and more that includes an array of some very talented artists which is actually very surprising, since Singapore is a country most would not expect to be nurturing to artists–after all, the most popular people from Singapore are politicians and businessmen like Lee Kuan Yew, a former Prime Minister, and Tan Kah Yee, a businessman who put up half of Singapore’s schools and financed a portion of their MRT.

I guess these certain stereotypes which I admit are quite unfair to the Singaporeans were just stuck into my head by popular media that have no real knowledge on the said country, and I’m rather pleased that I took time to attend several art galas despite my siblings’ requests to go clubbing at Zouk –Singapore’s internationally-acclaimed Ibiza-themed nightclub–instead. We did go on a different night though, and it was amazing, but that’s not the point.

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is split into two buildings–SAM at 71 Bras Basah Road and SAM at No. 8 Queen Street, which is more popularly known as 8Q SAM. While both museums showcase contemporary art, 8Q SAM has recently revamped its contents in a private event (yes, this is the one I attended) from simply art to interactive art.

It was a pretty grand–although small-scale–event: Merlot, Dom Perignon, cheese, and crackers were served as ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest flitted about the room to more contemporary versions of classical music. The funny thing is, all of it was out of place, considering the art.

Come on, imagine a woman dripping with diamonds in a Versace gown stick her hand into a pile of trash and say, “This is a clever representation of our current housing problem.” Then, her date, a man in what probably is Armani would reply, “I agree. Uncouth people should look deeper into this art instead of calling it rubbish.”

Sometimes, I have to just wonder about the people in the gala. There are certain pieces in the museum that just make me wonder if the artists are just high or mental; or perhaps I’m just one of those uncouth people that don’t appreciate art. There are also pieces that I’m pretty sure are making fun of the snobs that flip out over them. I mean, how exactly is a pile of paper in an otherwise empty room art?

I also don’t understand the people that take pictures of the artists’ work, even when they are rather commonplace like paintings of trees and a mirror in a room. Yes, the artists of 8Q SAM are rather fond of placing random objects in a center of a blank room and giving them dramatic titles like “The Silence of Music” (a guitar on a pedestal in a–yes, it’s otherwise empty–whitewashed room). Back to my original train of thought, isn’t art something that’s meant to be enjoyed as it’s in front of you, not from a picture? It seems like those photo-taking people don’t understand that if they spend all their time doing what they do, they’re wasting the opportunity of seeing the art in such conditions. After all, it’s every single day that museums serve Dom Perignon to patrons. It’s like, two hundred dollars a pop, you know.

There were moments when I thought that the art that decorated the museum wasn’t the thing the wanted to showcase at all–there were some invitees that were far more interesting than the videos, sculptures and paintings. I don’t really know about other people, but I’m the type of person that would be more likely to watch the culture snobs pretend how amazing an array of expired canned goods is rather than contemplate on how exactly is an array of expired canned goods amazing. (Unless I was in an Andy Warhol exhibit, but that’s a story for another time.) People are living, breathing, miraculous balls of fat and flesh, excuse the horrible mental image, and that is what makes a singular person infinitely more entertaining than a building full of whatever the majority considers art to be. That’s the reason why television channels have so many reality shows such as our local “Pinoy Big Brother” to the internationally acclaimed “X-Factor”–people are or at the very least, can be exciting compared to a bird cage without a bird inside hanging in a most inappropriate place like the 8Q SAM bathroom.

I suppose that despite all my ranting, I did enjoy my time there while managing to figure out a thing or two about the “real world”. I guess the most important of the things I figured out is the strength of self-imposed delusion that the upper-class members of society seem to have. There wasn’t anything particularly amazing about that night, but there were people that actually cried because of the “beauty” of the pieces. I guess if you force yourself hard enough to believe something is wonderful just because it’s mainstream, you do really start to believe whatever it is is wonderful and this causes the people around you to think it’s wonderful too because of a strange sort of peer pressure where the the opinion of high society is the only correct opinion.

Well, this has been Elle Ayroso reporting my experience at 8Q SAM and I thankfully don’t think that a papier-mâché door frame is art. Suck it, you Singaporean art snobs, because beauty is relative no matter what you say.

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