PICTURES

Soaking up Biennale art - in sarongs

Mandi Bunga (Flower Bath) is part of this year's Singapore Biennale. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Mandi Bunga (Flower Bath) is part of this year's Singapore Biennale. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
ST reporter Lisabel Ting (right) taking part in Mandi Bunga (Flower Bath) which is part of this year's Singapore Biennale. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
ST reporter Lisabel Ting (right) taking part in Mandi Bunga (Flower Bath) which is part of this year's Singapore Biennale. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
A small child splashes water while sitting in a tub. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A small child splashes water while sitting in a tub. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Participants (left) having fun on the lawn of the National Museum yesterday while taking part in a mass Mandi Bunga or flower bath. The performance art piece by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin (above, holding up flag) was one of 10 community-driven arts
Participants (left) having fun on the lawn of the National Museum yesterday while taking part in a mass Mandi Bunga or flower bath. The performance art piece by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin (above, holding up flag) was one of 10 community-driven arts projects featured in this year's Singapore Biennale.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, RAJ NADARAJAN
Participants (left) having fun on the lawn of the National Museum yesterday while taking part in a mass Mandi Bunga or flower bath. The performance art piece by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin (above, holding up flag) was one of 10 community-driven arts
Participants (left) having fun on the lawn of the National Museum yesterday while taking part in a mass Mandi Bunga or flower bath. The performance art piece by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin (above, holding up flag) was one of 10 community-driven arts projects featured in this year's Singapore Biennale.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, RAJ NADARAJAN

100 people take part in mass flower bath performance art piece at the event

It was wet. It was messy. It was fun. And it was art.

The lawn of the National Museum saw 100 women, men and children dressed in colourful sarong wraps, sitting in plastic tubs of water, drenching themselves and having a ball.

They were taking part in a mass Mandi Bunga - flower bath - in a 10-minute performance art piece by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin.

It is one of 10 community- driven arts projects featured in this year's Singapore Biennale, which is focused on South-east Asian art.

The flower bath item saw participants meeting at the Singapore Art Museum to collect flowers and herbs for the bath, before crossing over to the National Museum to sit in tubs, pour water on themselves and others and even whip off their sarongs at the end of the performance piece.

Participant Nur Sue'Aldah, 19, an art student, called it "a once-in- a-lifetime experience".

"Mandi Bunga is traditionally a cleansing ritual bath. It was amazing to see how the artist got us all to connect with each other through such a simple ritual," she said.

The Biennale is Singapore's biggest contemporary art event and this year's venues are clustered around the Bras Basah area.

There were families, students, art lovers and curious passers-by at venues such as the National Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum, SAM at 8Q and the Peranakan Museum yesterday.

Aside from the flower bath item, the big draws yesterday were Indonesian artist Toni Kanwa's installation Cosmology Of Life comprising 1,000 miniature figurines, Singapore artist Kumari Nahappan's installation of saga seeds titled Anahata and Australian artists Ken+Julia Yonetani's work, Crystal Palace, made of 100,000 glass beads.

The Biennale features more than 100 artworks by 82 artists and artist collectives and runs until Feb 16.

Translator Choo Ai Loon, 37, who participated in the short spectacle and visited several of the biennale exhibits, said: "This is my second Singapore Biennale. This year, it is just 'wow'. I find it an eye-opening experience. It is completely out of the box. It has surprised me. I am just amazed at the diversity of art from our region and the various forms of artistic representation. From Mandi Bunga to digital art."

deepikas@sph.com.sg