Singapore Art Museum's travelling art exhibition hits the libraries

Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya with his hexagonal lightboxes at the SAM Mini Mobile Museum showcase at the Tampines Regional Library.
Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya with his hexagonal lightboxes at the SAM Mini Mobile Museum showcase at the Tampines Regional Library.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - 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 colourful new art installation featuring more than 60 hexagonal lightboxes by Filipino painter Rodel Tapaya.

Each lightbox is a scene from Tapaya's existing 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 re-open in 2021.

"We wanted to use this opportunity to bring artworks out to the public," says the museum's head of content and senior curator Joyce Toh. "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 (April 4). It will remain 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 the Tapaya in the SAM's collection.


Each lightbox is a scene from Filipino painter Rodel Tapaya's existing paintings, many of which draw on fables and folklore of the Philippines and are layered with contemporary references. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

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

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

A second travelling exhibition, with works by Singapore artist Ezzam Rahman, will run from August (2019) to next February (2020) 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 the 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 of 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."

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

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

WHEN: April 3 to May 12; 10am to 9pm, closed on public holidays

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

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

WHERE: Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1

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

ADMISSION: Free

INFO: Fore more information, visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

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

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

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

WHERE: Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1

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

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

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

Other related programmes

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 (Woodlands); 2pm to 3pm

ADMISSION: Free with registration

INFO: To register, visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg.

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

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

ADMISSION: $25 per adult-child pair

INFO: Visit www.apactix.com to buy tickets

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 and Woodlands Regional Library .

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

ADMISSION: $25 per child

INFO: Visit 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 kopi and teh 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); 3.30pm to 4.30pm

ADMISSION: Free (capacity of 20 people)

INFO: For more information and to register, visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg.

*Dates might change. Visit the website for updates.