Friday, March 02, 2012

Singapore Art Museum

This evening we went to the Singapore Art Museum, to see an exhibition of Asian art. Because it's a Friday admission was free, and that was free as in "no charge for any part of the museum" instead of the British model of "charge for the really interesting part".

We only made it round one part of the museum though: the award for the Asian art specialised in really depressing things. I know not all art should be joyful, but when the most positive experience is viewing a painting of mountains of dead Japanese salarymen, it's not quite what you have in mind for a relaxing Friday evening.

I'm not sure whether everything belongs in an art museum, or somewhere else; there was a film of interviews with Cambodian survivors of US bombing campaigns during the Vietnam war. While it was instructive to see the damage wrought on farmers by the bombs (and damage that remains today, with bomb craters filled with the toxic remains of high explosives) I wasn't sure if it conformed with my idea of what you'd see in a gallery. Perhaps I'm limited.

Upstairs, there was a half hour film relaying various unhappy experiences that Taiwanese people had had with immigration officials, when trying to enter the US for holidays, or when going to Taiwan from China. While these were all quite sad things to see, I wasn't sure that it really said more than that bureaucracy is often cruel to people that don't fit into its boxes neatly. There wasn't a feeling of understanding all the other forces at play in immigration, like the problems of illegal movements, or what should constitute illegal movements, or the concept of nationality. But again, I'm a middle-aged white male; I may not be the most well-equipped person to comment on this.

Downstairs, there was a large white canvas dotted with red, that when you approached it you learned symbolised the aftermath of a suicide bomber. About then I'd had enough of pain and misery for the evening, so I went back to Marina Bay Sands and ate a hundredweight of potato crisps while watching Wicked.

Well, no; I had a perfectly nice Italian dinner, went back to the hotel and had an ill-advised run for half an hour. And wrote some more reviews on Tripadvisor, naturally...


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