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« on: January 12, 2009, 11:27:52 PM » by alvintck

These items collected from Singaporeans will be displayed in the Museum Of Broken Relationships, part of this year's M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. ADELINE CHIA looks at the sad and funny stories behind them. C2&3


The Straits Times

Thursday, January 1 2009

M1 Singapore Fringe Festival

Breaking up on record

Museum of Broken Relationships is one of several quirky events in this year's fringe festival

adline chia

arts reporter

Teddy bears. One half of a pair of handcuffs. An old postcard. A frying pan. A NEWater bottle filled with brown cigarette butts.

These items rolled in from Singaporeans after drama group The Necessary Stage (TNS) put out a call for people to donate momentos from broken relationships for an art project in its M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2009.

The 15 items will be shown with others collected from other countries in an exhibition at the Esplanade's Jendela called Museum Of Broken Relationships, started by two Croatian artists.

Whenever the museum stops in their world tour, people in that country are invited to contribute to the collection.

The quirky exhibition is one of the highlights of the fifth edition of the annual festival. The two-week event, which has a budget of $400,000, encompasses various disciplines such as theatre, dance, film and visual arts.

Next Wednesday, the festival kicks off the local arts calendar with a slate of 21 edgy arts events built around the theme of Art and Family, loosely defined as any community or network that forms part of people's identity.

TNS artistic director Alvin Tan, who is the festival's co-artistic director, says the theme was chosen about 18 months ago, when planning for this year's edition started.

The 45-year old says with a laugh that it was a bit of crystal-ball gazing to guess what topic would be hot this year.

But he says there is something enduring about the theme, which can manifest itself in different ways.

“Last year, there was a lot of discussion about single mothers, and now, discussions about the elderly and alternative families. That's why the festival is resonant with people.”

Since its inauguration in 2005 as a modest festival drawing about 30,000 people to a handful of events, the Fringe has grown into a valuable player in festival-rich Singapore.

Last year, some 200,000 people attended its 20 events, several of which received rave reviews and were lauded for pushing the artistic envelope here.

Besides growing in scale, it has also grown in prominence, drawing in partners such as the Esplanade and the National Museum to present its programmes.

Two years ago, the festival introduced a tongue-in-cheek system where shows were slotted into “virgin” or “veteran” categories, to indicate the level of accessibility for audiences.

As Tan says: “Every year, there will be new audiences who need the guidance.”

He adds: “It's also a bit of fun. I imagine people having conversations about whether this show is too 'cheem' (Hokkien for profound or difficult) and whether they want to challenge themselves.”

The hope for the festival is for it to have the kind of buzz in Singapore that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the Scottish capital generates. And TNS wants to do it by the fringe festival's 10th anniversary.

He says: “Everyone in Edinburgh knows when there is the fringe festival going on. Every cafe and souvenir shop has posters up.”

One way to generate the buzz is by including a strong interactive element.

The Museum Of Broken Relationships is an example. Donors were asked to write a short description of what the object means to them, the time of the relationship and where they are from.

For another art project titled A Light Sleep, Japanese artist Shigeaki Iwai viisted more than 20 Singaporean families to collect sound recordings of people singing lullabies they remember from their childhood.

He will piece them together to form a multimedia installation at The Substation gallery.

Singaporeans who gave items to the Museum Of Broken Relationships did so for different reasons: some for catharsis, some as a way of springcleaning – emotionally and physically – and some for remembrance.

Their stories form a mini treasure trove of past liaisons: some funny, some poignant and some romantic.

There is the bottle filled with cigarette butts, for example. It came from an anonymous donor in a relationship where both partners resolved to quit smoking after the bottle was filled.

But they broke up before they reached their goal, and the girlfriend had to fill the bottle up herself.

There are the more prosaic gifts, such as the piggy bank donated by mass communications student Lai Ka Hei, 20. It had come free with a popcorn package she and her ex-boyfriend bought on their first movie date.

The relationship ended last March after 2 ½ months.

She says: “I used to take it out to reminisce. Now, I just want to get rid of it. I guess time has brought about this change.”

Then there is Mathia Lee, 28, a National University of Singapore postgraduate student in Life Sciences, who donated a frying pan.

She says an ex-boyfriend gave it to her so that he could cook meals for them at her place. “It was symbolic of a future that was possible but didn't happen.”

Pubic relations consultant Cheryl Neo's donation is a free postcard from New York with the sentence “We're All In This Together”.

It was a gift from her Singaporean ex-boyfriend, when he visited her in the Big Apple. She was studying in New York then and returned home in 2003. The relationship ended two years after.

The 28-year old says: “It was a free postcard taken off a stand, but it meant a lot more and saw us through a good part of our five-year relationship.

“I see it as a celebration of the relationship for what it was. I hope it makes its rounds to tell its story and strikes a chord with someone visiting the museum.”

Their contributions join some 300 other items in the museum's collection.

About 100 will be shown, and these include a prosthetic leg and two wedding dresses, among other things.

The project is the brainchild of two Zagreb artists, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, who broke up amicably in 2002 after four years together.

About two years passed by and they decided to do something creative about their experience and came up with the idea for the museum.

They donated a white wind-up bunny, which they would take on their travels alone. The bunny stood in for the other person, and it would be photographed in the foreign country.

A few donations from friends snowballed into a massive collection as people responded with enthusiasm to the universal pain of breaking up.

So far, their quirky museum has rolled through Croatia, London and Berlin. Singapore is its first Asian stop.

“The objects are coloured by local history, but the break-up experience is the same everywhere,” says Vistica, 38.

The act of donating to the museum can be cathartic, she adds. “Giving the museum can be a ritual of breaking up, a final performance to send off a failed relationship. After getting rid of the items, it is an exhibit and has a life of its own.

“Many people say they feel really relieved. The items tell their story the relationship stays noted somewhere, but your life goes on.”

Another project that invites participation from the public is A Light Sleep, featuring the lullabies sung by the various communities in Singapore.

Installation artist Iwai, 46, interviewed more than 20 families last month and has collected old lullabies in Mandarin, Hokkien, Hainanese, Cantonese, Malay and Tamil.

The Tokyo-born and based artist says putting together a soundscape of lullabies, which are sung to children to help them sleep, is a good entry point to portray the various ethnicities and cultures that make up Singapore society.

He tells Life!: “Lullabies are not only for sleeping, they often also have some educational meaning. They have morals and teach children basic language skills. They are sung again and agin so that children recognise the meaning of a sentence.”

Together with the sound installation, he hopes to show two videos, one from the point of view of a baby in a cot, and another a bird's eye view of several people lying on a bed sleeping.

One of the people who let Iwai into their homes is visual artist Sha Najak, who heads the Migrant Voices, an advocacy group for migrant workers.

The 26-year old sang Hindi lullabies her late Bangladeshi grandmother taught her. She says: “It's interesting to see how your own recordings can become part of a larger project, a piece of puzzle fitted together in the larger jigsaw of society.” chiahta@sph.com.sg

book it


Who: The Necessary Stage

When: Jan 7 to 18

Where: Various venues

Admission: Tickets from $19 to $27 available from Sistic (log on to www.sistic.com.sg

or call 6348-5555). For more information, visit www.singaporefringe.com



Wednesday January 7, 8:34 PM

Museum of failed love offers balm for heartbreak

SINGAPORE, Jan 7 (Reuters Life!) - From an empty ring box to
sexy lingerie and a pair of fur-lined handcuffs, an
exhibition of the relics of failed love has come to Asia,
hoping to bring solace to the heartbroken. The "Museum of
Broken Relationships", which opened in Singapore on
Wednesday, is a travelling display of items related to
failed relationships donated by people who live in the
cities the museum has visited. Concept founders Olinka
Vistica and Drazen Grubisic decided to set up the exhibit in
Croatia after consoling friends over failed romances, and
hope its global tour will offer people the chance to
overcome the pain of heartbreak through art. These remnants
of several love affairs have so far shown in Croatia,
London, Berlin, and Singapore is their first Asian stop.

"The Museum of Broken Relationships is an art concept which
proceeds from the assumption that objects
possess...holograms of memories and emotions, and intends
with its layout to create a space of secure memory in order
to preserve the heritage of broken relationships," says the
exhibit's website. "That's why it could be therapeutic." The
museum, which has actual displays as well as a virtual,
online space, has everything from romantic letters to
photographs to gifts given to lovers such as soft toys, but
also includes unusual exhibits such as a prosthetic leg
donated by a war veteran who fell in love with his
physiotherapist. In Berlin, an axe used by a woman to break
up her ex-girlfriend's furniture, along with the broken
furniture, was on display alongside a wedding dress and a
pair of skates. Every single object in the museum is
anonymous, and has a short description of the relationship
it was part of.

TEAR-SOAKED TEDDY BEAR In Singapore, some 20
to 30 items are on display -- including the prosthetic -- as
well as letters and pictures. Vistica said the exhibition
helps give people a place to get rid of, yet keep safe,
emotionally laden items, adding that getting donations in
largely conservative Singapore was not any more difficult
than any other city. "People are a little bit hesitant, but
when they come and see the exhibitions, sometimes it gives
them the courage to give something later," she told Reuters.
From Singapore comes a brown teddy bear named "My Malay
Bear", which is all that remains of a failed romance between
a Malay woman and a Chinese man who met in this multi-racial
state where marriages between different ethnic groups are
uncommon. The woman kept her relationship a secret from her
disapproving family and, unable to keep photos or other
mementos of their relationship, only had the bear she
received from her boyfriend as the sole symbol of their
love. According to the description tagged to the bear,
nobody even noticed when she no longer kept the toy on her
bed after breaking up with her boyfriend.

The exhibition is part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2009,
featuring more than 20 works from 12 counties, and runs January 7
to 18 at the Esplanade. People wanting to donate items can do
so via its website, http://www.brokenships.com/about.php.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 03:28:23 AM by alvintck »

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