A combined presentation by Artist-in-Residence Ho Rui An and artist Tan Biyun, Future Trees and the Pulp of History explores the artists’ shared interests in participatory democracies, historical archives, and speculative futures. Their works engage various strategies to rearrange existing narrative structures and activate new forms of political imagination.
For the first time in Singapore, Ho exhibits the documentation of Screen Green (2015-16), a lecture performance that examines the politics of screening and greening in the city-state. Screen Green has been produced for the exhibition Public Spirits, currently running at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland.
A visual work that brings sense to the artificial splash of greenery all over the city-state despite its non-environmental stance. The film beings with an observation of the lush greenery often seen as backdrop of political discourse in Singapore, the lecture addresses this botanical green in relation to the “green screen” normally used in cinema, using this uncanny connection to examine the politics of screening and greening in the city-state.
The film beings with an observation of the lush greenery often seen as backdrop of political discourse in Singapore, the lecture addresses this botanical green in relation to the “green screen” normally used in cinema, using this uncanny connection to examine the politics of screening and greening in the city-state.
Central to the work is the idea that the numerous green spaces in Singapore act as giant green screen studios designed to soften the impact of changes and its discomfort on the general public.
Against the “horticultural futurism” discussed in Ho’s lecture, Tan posits a speculative near-future where the history of Singapore faces the fate of being pulped.
Tan conjures a scenario where students, sick of the propaganda purveyed in their textbooks, have abandoned the study of History altogether. The exhibition houses a display of history books that have been used over time in Singapore's education syllabus allowing the visitors to see how the focus of history changed over time, from Malaya-centric to the modern day success of the fishing-village-turned-metropolis state.
Conceived as a “protest against forgetting” (Eric Hobsbawn), Tan’s The Unforgetting Space seeks a more inclusive understanding of the past and triggers the process of reclaiming the writing of history from the authorities. This participatory project features several textbooks dating from the 1970s and two old typewriters on which audiences are invited to retype historical episodes selected from the books.
They are also encouraged to contribute a text based on their own sources should a historical episode be found to be missing or misrepresented. The use of typewriter is also inspired by the fact that history is never perfect, and there will be mistakes when one set to document a part of history or one's memory.
Future Trees and the Pulp of History will be open to the public for another weekend on 17 and 18 December 2016, 12.00 to 7.00pm. Block 37 #01-03, Malan Road, Gillman Barracks.