Estranged and disappointingly ambitious
Singaporeans are hardly ironic as a nation. The title is immediately at odds with the display when you enter the gallery. Tourists, yes, we want them, but irony is evasive, and conservative mostly we are. But that’s besides the point to make this a disappointing show. The recent work by local artist Dan Yeo may shock the average viewer, challenge mild gallery goers, raise an eyebrow or two in the art practising community for different reasons.
The work features a make believe gallow, complete with a noose stuck to the neck of a comic wooden cut-out to pop your head through. In the background, a cut-out collage of the City Hall, fireworks, presumably appropriated from the Singapore Tourism Board publicity material, accompanied by the soundtrack of happy national day songs. The message is not subtle, presenting a suggestion of death penalties as a tourist attraction. I was told public executions or punishments are possible grim visits at certain places on this planet. It is shocking and unacceptable because it is simply too grim to juxtaposed our beloved “uniquely Singapore” with an image of the gallows, no matter how hilarious the comic-style is, and how juvenile this is compared to ‘Happy Tree Friends” in a horror rating index. No, we are too serious for that.
The work is challenging to the average gallery goer because the visuals are very tacky, raw and, almost work in progress. the edginess, as I would like to call it, is there in concept but hardly in its execution (sic). The works may remind us of the threat of global terrorism, a very irrational phenomenon to few but very real to many. This work tries to jolt us from our comfortable realities, or at least distract us from the rising costs of living, by placing a backdrop of materialism and national propaganda, against a foreground of possible ‘random death’ symbolised by the noose and gallows.
This work may disturb those in the artistic circles because of the finish of the work, failing in persistence. This falls short of using a real city skyline, as opposed to transparency projections and taking to the streets to push the irony of ‘tourism by death’. Instead, it is safely tucked aside, promising none of the role play stated in the press release, and offering none of the picturesque tourist attractions, or conceptual, quaint, macabre humour of conquering the fear of death.
The work has potential, best appreciated as a work in progress and with a large dosage of salt.
See Your Mother Gallery’s website for the press release: http://www.geocities.com/madlynettepress/tourist.htm
Exhibition is open to public until 7 January 2008.
By appointment only, please contact the following: Your MOTHER Gallery, Tel:+65-6396 3310 or (+65) 97877874.