An Unnatural History
While Singapore Art Museum (SAM) undergoes a major building redevelopment, the buildings’ hoardings have turned into a public showcase of commissioned works by local artists. Sub/merged and An Unnatural History are presented on the hoardings around the SAM buildings along Bras Basah Road and Queen Street respectively.
SAM at 8Q resides in the former Catholic High School. A mural presented on the hoarding at this site offers an opportunity to question the narratives surrounding the area through a mix of imagination and heritage as reflected in the museum’s role as a re-teller of official narratives.
Tapping on the passion of Darel Seow’s keen interest in natural history and storytelling, and Lee Xin Li’s complementary interest in heritage and architecture, An Unnatural History explores the struggle between man and nature within the heart of Singapore, the world’s greenest city. It captures Singapore’s cultural and natural history and heritage while at the same time challenging the viewer to consider what heritage means to them and question how authentic this presented version of heritage is.
An Unnatural History is a work in two parts: a mural and a website. The mural acts as the basis from which the website grows as a living archive with contributions added by local interest groups and experts. The mural and website are in conversation with each other, with one referencing the other as a means to expand the exchange of knowledge.
Lee Xin Li and Darel Seow, An Unnatural History, 2020. Image courtesy of the artists.