Real artefacts, fictional narrative

Objects and artefacts in The Bizzarre Honour are not labelled to encourage visitors to form their own narratives as they walk around the museum.
Objects and artefacts in The Bizzarre Honour are not labelled to encourage visitors to form their own narratives as they walk around the museum.PHOTO: OH!OPEN HOUSE

Unlike more traditional museums, The Bizarre Honour does not prescribe a fixed path for visitors to follow.

Objects and artefacts in this makeshift museum do not have labels on them and visitors are instead left to explore it in twos, aided by a dossier of memos and old photographs that give context to the exhibits.

"We wanted to redesign the way people look at things," said Ms Lim Su Pei, assistant director of Oh!Open House, the organiser of the exhibition, which opened last Saturday.

She added that visitors are encouraged to form their own narratives as they walk through the two-storey house in Chip Bee Gardens: "Sometimes, you can just focus on observing and making your own story; it doesn't matter whether it's right or wrong, or whether it is the artist's intention."

Based on the theme of Singapore's relationship with nature, The Bizarre Honour has a fictional backstory of being the grounds of an anonymous natural history society.

  • BOOK IT / THE BIZARRE HONOUR

  • WHERE: Chip Bee Gardens, exact location disclosed upon registration

    WHEN: Till Feb 26, 6.30 to 9pm (Fridays); 10am to 8pm (Saturdays and Sundays)

    ADMISSION: $45

    INFO: www.thebizarrehonour.com

However, while the story is fictional, the exhibits within the building are real items from the artists' personal collections, some of which are more than a decade old. Exhibits on display include photographs dating back to Singapore's colonial times, stuffed animals and old animal traps.

This exhibition, a collaboration between Oh!Open House and a group of local artists, is part of the ongoing Singapore Art Week, which will run till Jan 22.

The names of the artists behind it will also not be revealed. This is to ensure that the focus will be purely on the exhibition, according to Ms Lim. She noted that the artists, who are all Singaporean, did not want visitors to come with expectations that may be formed because of a familiarity with their other works.

It is also a departure from the norm for Oh!Open House, which is known for its art walks where visitors are taken around neighbourhoods to see site-specific art works.

Oh!Open House has organised seven art walks since 2009, with last year's being held at Potong Pasir.

While Oh!Open House usually decides on the concept for the artists, for this exhibition, they were encouraged to come up with their own concepts and ideas, said Ms Aletheia Tan, the project manager of The Bizarre Honour.

"We gave them the brief and it was to be as ambitious as they wanted," said Ms Lim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Real artefacts, fictional narrative'. Print Edition | Subscribe