The thing about freedom of expression is that apart from the right to say whatever you want, it is also a creative process. People have long used various methods of expression to curate society, make political observations, and create parodies on issues du jour or simply to poke fun at public figures.
Mr Tan Wah Piow has long since been critical of Singapore’s political regime. He has written numerous books and papers, appeared in forums and is an active political observer. Having studied architecture in the National University of Singapore, he is well acquainted with artistic development and has now embarked on a new way to provide his political and social narrative.
In a bright and airy property he owns, Tan has established an exhibition showroom of sorts. Tan has used everyday objects from books to chairs as an outlet to provide a tongue in cheek commentary on political issues that is both thought provoking and nuanced, allowing the viewer the freedom to come to his or her own conclusion.
After all, freedom of expression has to cut both ways – the expresser has the right to express his or her views while the recipient has the right to subjective interpretation.
It is very much a works in progress and Tan is currently putting his creative juices to work and is fashioning new exhibits as we speak.
What really caught my attention was a hard cover book that sat open on a mantelpiece. The cross section of the book was hewn out to create a little niche where shredded pieces of the constitution lie piled. While the constitution is supposed to sacrosanct and important (hence a serious looking hard bound book), the contents within are in tatters – is the existence of the constitution in Singapore simply a deception?
Next up, is Tan’s portrayal of the Elected Presidency – something that is of relevance now with Tan Cheng Bock’s current legal challenge in the headlines. The President’s red chair lies broken while a gleaming white chair stands erect and proud next to it. Whether this symbolises the state of our current Elected Presidency is anyone’s guess. The colour “white” certainly hints at many unanswered questions.
Mr Tan has also created his own unabridged version of an “A-Z Roadmap to Elected Dictatorship”. This witty and humourous guidebook offers the reader the classic ingredients to a dictatorship that is tailor made to the Singaporean audience.
For those who may be in London and interested to pay this unique exhibition a visit, please contact [email protected].