A deeper look at Lonely Vectors, a multi-site exhibition by Singapore Art Museum (SAM) that explores a world in motion
SAM’s Bras Basah Road and Queen Street hoardings titled The Green Crab: A Diagram of Auspicious Spatial Organization. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

A deeper look at Lonely Vectors, a multi-site exhibition by Singapore Art Museum (SAM) that explores a world in motion

The ebb and flow of a world in motion is on show, through an exhibition titled Lonely Vectors at Singapore Art Museum (SAM).

Perhaps an apt tribute to its theme of flows and networks, the exhibition – which began 19 Feb and will run until 11 Sep – is multi-site, and will unfold over three stages.

Lonely Vectors is a series of artworks and new commissions that puts the spotlight on the movement that characterise the global economy. In and around this is the flow of bodies and labour, as well as lines and networks through agriculture, trade and migratory patterns. They show not only goods in flux, but also reveal uneven distribution at work.

For Mi You, guest curator for the exhibition, the aim is to get visitors thinking about what it is like to live in a global economy that is constantly in motion.

“We want to convey these ideas through three interconnected presentations across everyday spaces, so that audiences can draw different perspectives on themes such as the movement of goods, information and labour across the world, and how these choreographies have an impact on us and the people involved,” she says.

1. The Green Crab: A Diagram of Auspicious Spatial Organization (Until 28 Aug at SAM’s Bras Basah and Queen Street hoardings)

Zheng Mahler, image courtesy of the artist
Australian artist-duo Zheng Mahler, the creative minds behind The Green Crab. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

Australian artist-duo Zheng Mahler collaborated with Singaporean architectural historian Ian Tan and One Bite Design Studio to create this installation.

It provides an alternative guide for navigating Singapore, as a speculative feng shui map that juxtaposes qi against Singapore’s master plan for urban development.

Zheng Mahler, 'The Green Crab_ Zoomin A Diagram of Auspicious Spatial Organization', as part of SAM's multi-site exhibition 'Lonely Vectors', 2022; image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum
“We hope the work gives a different perspective on the city to locals, as seen through alien and distant eyes,” says Zheng Mahler. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)
Zheng Mahler, 'The Green Crab_ A Diagram of Auspicious Spatial Organization', as part of SAM's multi-site exhibition 'Lonely Vectors', 2022; image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum
The Green Crab adds a burst of colour to the perimeter of the SAM building at Bras Basah Road that is currently undergoing a massive revamp. It is slated to reopen in 2023. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

The work has an interactive element that invites the public to locate familiar neighbourhoods through annotated maps. As they do so, myths and legends will be unravelled.

“It has been an incredibly interesting process as Hong Kong-based artists to try and engage with and understand Singapore from afar during the pandemic,” says Zheng Mahler. “This has only been possible through our collaboration with and learning from Ian Tan and his deep knowledge of Singaporean architecture and urbanism, and our engagement with the work of Master Tan whose reading of the city through the lens of Chinese metaphysics created a mythic and imaginary version of Singapore in our minds.”

2. Seeding Sovereignty (1 Mar to 11 Sep at Bedok, Ang Mo Kio, Jurong and Tampines public libraries)

Chu Hao Pei; photo by Fajar Wirazdi
Seeding Sovereignty draws on Singapore artist Chu Hao Pei’s long-term interest in the circulation of rice within Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

In the second presentation of Lonely Vectors, a new commission by Singapore artist Chu Hao Pei travels across four libraries in the city in the form of a series of cabinets.

Chu Hao Pei, work-in-progress image of 'Seeding Sovereignty', 2022; image courtesy of Marcuse Woodworks
The seed cabinets of Seeding Sovereignty that are currently making their appearance in our public libraries. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

They serve as a seed library that is both visual and tactile, telling the story of Singapore’s intertwined past with rice and the region. Within the cabinets’ drawers are archival texts, images and myths, and visitors can take home not just the information, but also a packet of rice seeds.

The work, a unique mode of seed distribution, invites audiences to consider their relationship to the land, the food we eat, and how rice can bring a region together.

Detail view of Chu Hao Pei's Seeding Sovereignty, as part of SAM's multi-site exhibition Lonely Vectors, 2022; image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum
Visitors are encouraged to interact with the seed library by gleaning information  from its drawers and taking a packet of rice seeds home with them. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)
Detail view of Chu Hao Pei's Seeding Sovereignty, as part of SAM's multi-site exhibition Lonely Vectors, 2022; image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum
“Rice is a staple within our diet, but most of us do not know much about the crop: how is it cultivated? Who grows our rice?” Chu hopes his installation will inspire deeper scrutiny on how rice has become such an ingrained part of our cultures. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

Seeding Sovereignty was born out of my lived experience working together with vernacular youth farming collectives in Indonesia,” says Chu. “Over the course of my research into rice, I’ve found that the most enduring and compelling way to encourage a certain cognisance about these ideas is to have access to native rice seeds and try growing these varieties for yourself.”

The first instalment of Seeding Sovereignty began at Bedok Public Library and is currently at Ang Mo Kio Public Library until 6 Jun. It moves to Jurong Regional Library (8 Jun-24 Jul) before closing at Tampines Regional Library (27 Jul-11 Sep).

Lonely Vectors’ third and final presentation will have a fitting location: SAM’s space at Tanjong Pagar Distripark – a logistics warehouse near a busy shipping port – from 3 Jun to 4 Sep.

Dr Eugene Tan, director of SAM, says: “We recognise that the choreographies of the global economy do not simply pass through the port but also extend outwards to those living in Singapore and beyond.

“In the same way, we hope to reflect these movements through the different presentations in various sites, before the exhibition is presented at Tanjong Pagar Distripark later in the year.”

Visit SAM’s website to find out more about The Green Crab and Seeding Sovereignty.

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