See-saws and big 'pineapple' at Gillman Barracks arts fest

An interactive installation by Thai artist Anon Pairot, titled No Country for Tomorrow, invites visitors to interact with the see-saw to view the flag that will be visible only when visitors are riding. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheatre that is the centrepiece of the DISINI Festival. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheatre that is the centrepiece of the DISINI Festival. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Swiss artist Maya Rochat's work decorates a unisex toilet in Gillman Barracks. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Orkibal's assistant paints the mural Hati dan Perasaan. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
A set of 10 outdoor sculptures by Singaporean artist nabilah Nordin, titled glup plunc glerp thint than nurp earm tinn gamp shtert. Each sculpture corresponds to one of these gibberish sounds. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
A Spanish/Argentinean artist's piece, Chromodynamica for Singapore, decks a building in Gillman Barracks with colour. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Indonesian artist Lugas Syllabus' outdoor sculpture Catch Yourself If You Can. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

SINGAPORE - A pink, pineapple-shaped arts pavilion on Lock Road heralds Gillman Barracks' inaugural visual arts festival, Disini, launching on Friday (Jan 26).

Until Sept 30, multiple activities have been organised around visual art, including public art commissions, art exhibitions, performances and talks.

There is also an open call from now to Feb 28 for curators to propose projects, two of which will be presented and promoted in June under the Breaking Waves label.

Disini is curated by Khairuddin Hori, curatorial director of the Chan + Hori Gallery, which organised the festival with the National Arts Council. The name comes from the Malay adverb "di sini" or "over here".

Khairuddin, 44, says: "There are so many arts festivals in Singapore where visual arts are a small component. We wanted to reverse this and invite people, such as musicians and theatre-makers, to work with visual artists."

Disini kicks off with Action Parties from noon to 4pm at the pineapple-shaped pavilion titled Nenas Estate (or Pineapple Estate). It will host performances or speeches or any other "action" proposed by arts groups and others who responded to an open call for proposals from Jan 4 to 16. Each user gets the pavilion for only one hour at a time.

Nenas Estate is designed by fashion collective MASH-UP, who are Daniela Monasterios, Nathanael Ng and Shaf Amis'aabudin. Their design evokes the home of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants and is decorated with local icons such as the dragon of the dragon playground in Toa Payoh.

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Monasterios, 30, points out that the space is a playground for people. She adds: "We wanted something fun and our label is known for mixing up elements."

Seven other outdoor installations have been commissioned for Disini and will be launched on Friday. These include a long, surreal rabbit sculpture by Indonesian artist Lugas Syllabus, a pastel billboard of words by Singapore's Dawn Ng and murals by Malaysia's Orkibal and Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone.

Swiss artist Maya Rochat has redesigned and painted a toilet block, while Singaporean-Australian artist Nabilah Nordin has created 10 sculptures, each based on a gibberish sound such as "glup" and "glerp".

Thai artist Anon Pairot has set up two coloured seesaws bearing flagpoles, for his installation No Country For Tomorrow.

The 38-year-old artist was inspired by the idea that the Internet might erase national borders some day. People who ride quickly enough on the seesaws will fly the flags attached to the playground instrument - the flags do not represent existing countries.

Anon says: "When we talk about outdoor space, it's too boring to just make artwork. Art is a part of life and should be linked to ordinary things."

Khairuddin agrees."We would like this festival to activate this space," he says, adding that more public sculptures will be added to the area during the course of the festival.

He says that on an ordinary day, passers-by might not be moved to enter the galleries at Gillman Barracks and view the art.

Outdoor installations provide visual cues to encourage visitors to discover the visual arts cluster. He cites his experience last year when Gillman Barracks commissioned art showcase Lock Route.

"At the Lock Route opening party we had 10,000 people come," he says. "This year we're aiming for 20,000."

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