Shining a light on Filipino folklore

Filipino painter Rodel Tapaya's new installation - May Tainga Ang Lupa (2018), or The Land Has Ears - comprises more than 60 hexagonal lightboxes of scenes of his paintings.
Filipino painter Rodel Tapaya's new installation - May Tainga Ang Lupa (2018), or The Land Has Ears - comprises more than 60 hexagonal lightboxes of scenes of his paintings.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Filipino painter Rodel Tapaya's new installation - May Tainga Ang Lupa (2018), or The Land Has Ears - comprises more than 60 hexagonal lightboxes of scenes of his paintings.
Rodel Tapaya's lightboxST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

Travelling art show SAM Mini Mobile Museum kicks off its exploration of South-east Asian contemporary art with Filipino Rodel Tapaya's installation

At Tampines Regional Library, it is not just the books on the shelves that tell stories.

A polyphony of stories from Filipino folklore can now be savoured in a new, colourful art installation featuring more than 60 hexagonal lightboxes by Filipino painter Rodel Tapaya. Each lightbox is a scene from Tapaya's paintings, many of which draw on fables and folklore of the Philippines and are layered with contemporary references.

The display, called May Tainga Ang Lupa (2018), or The Land Has Ears, is part of the SAM Mini Mobile Museum - a travelling art exhibition by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), held in partnership with the National Library Board.

It takes place while the SAM's buildings in Bras Basah are closed for redevelopment and slated to reopen in 2021.

  • VIEW IT / SAM MINI MOBILE MUSEUM WITH ART BY RODEL TAPAYA

    WHERE: Tampines Regional Library, 02-01 Our Tampines Hub, 1 Tampines Walk

    WHEN: Till May 12, 10am to 9pm daily; closed on public holidays

    WHERE: Woodlands Regional Library, 01-03 Woodlands Civic Centre, 900 South Woodlands Drive

    WHEN: May 15 to June 23, 10am to 9pm daily; closed on public holidays

    WHERE: Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1

    WHEN: June 26 to Aug 4, 10am to 9pm daily; closed on public holidays

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: For more information, go to www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

  • VIEW IT / SAM MINI MOBILE MUSEUM WITH ART BY EZZAM RAHMAN

    WHERE: Woodlands Regional Library

    WHEN: Aug 14 to Sept 29, 10am to 9pm daily; closed on public holidays

    WHERE: Jurong Regional Library

    WHEN: Dec 4 to Jan 12, 10am to 9pm daily; closed on public holidays

    WHERE: Tampines Regional Library

    WHEN: Jan 15 to Feb 23, 10am to 9pm daily; closed on public holidays

The museum's head of content and senior curator Joyce Toh says: "We wanted to use this opportunity to bring artworks out to the public. I hope people will get to know more about South-east Asian contemporary art... and enjoy the works, the storytelling and the narratives."

The exhibition began its run in Tampines Regional Library last Thursday. It remains there till May 12 before moving on to the regional libraries in Woodlands and Jurong.

Tapaya, 38, was commissioned to adapt his previous works into a new showcase for the exhibition.

One lightbox depicts a dramatic scene from the painting Aswangs Enter The City (2018), one of several works by Tapaya in the SAM's collection.

In some versions of the myth, the aswangs are evil shape-shifters that look like ordinary people in the day. At night, they transform into monstrous beasts and prey on pregnant women, sucking their foetuses out of their wombs.

Tapaya tells The Straits Times the work is a response to the Philippines' bloody war on drugs.

A second travelling exhibition, with works by Singapore artist Ezzam Rahman, runs from August to next February in the same three libraries.

The multi-disciplinary installation and performance artist, who is known for his interest in the body, once made headlines for making sculptures out of dead skin from the soles of his feet.

Tapaya hopes visitors will come up with their own interpretations of his lightboxes and perhaps weave their own narratives from the clusters of scenes and stories.

"It's like the oral tradition - it depends on the 'narrator'. They can translate it into their own story. That's the beauty of it."


Other highlights of mobile exhibition

KIDS ART WORKSHOPS

Art workshops for children aged four to seven, which include storytelling and a hands-on crafts activity inspired by a myth or legend.

Where: Tampines Regional Library, 02-01 Our Tampines Hub, 1 Tampines Walk; and Woodlands Regional Library, 01-03 Woodlands Civic Centre, 900 South Woodlands Drive

When: April 20* (Tampines), June 1 and 15 (Woodlands); 2 to 3.30pm

Admission: $25 a child

Info: Go to www.apactix.com to buy tickets

TODDLER ART WORKSHOPS

Art workshops for toddlers aged 18 months to four years old, which include storytelling and a hands-on crafts activity inspired by a myth or legend.

Where: Tampines Regional Library, Woodlands Regional Library and Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1

When: April 21* (Tampines), June 8 and 22 (Woodlands), July 13 (Jurong); 1 to 2.30pm

Admission: $25 an adult-child pair

Info: Go to www.apactix.com to buy tickets

KOPI, TEH, AND CONTEMPORARY ART (SENIORS)

Contemporary art tours conducted in Hokkien, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. There will be coffee and tea at the end of the tours.

Where: Tampines Regional Library, Woodlands Regional Library and Jurong Regional Library

When: May 10* (Tampines), May 31 (Woodlands), June 28 (Jurong); 3.30 to 4.30pm

Admission: Free (capacity of 20 people)

Info: For more information and to register, go to www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

A DATE WITH SAM

Attendees get to find out more about the SAM Mini Mobile Museum and the roles played by individuals involved such as the artist and curator.

Where: Woodlands Regional Library

When: May 18, 2 to 3pm

Admission: Free with registration

Info: To register, go to www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

•* Dates subject to change. Go to the websites for updates.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline 'Shining a light on Filipino folklore'. Print Edition | Subscribe