Like many of us whose plans were ruined by COVID-19 this year, art museums in Singapore have also dealt with their fair share of cancelled exhibitions. The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is no exception.
Remarkably, the team at the Asian Civilisations Museum has managed to bounce back stronger than before. They’ve put together three exhibitions that spotlight the community of people behind ACM, revealing its lesser-known human side through their stories of Faith, Beauty, Love and Hope.
Kennie Ting, Director of the ACM and Peranakan Museum, explained, “2020 has been a really challenging year for all of us, at the global level because of the pandemic, but also at the personal level, as we struggled, alongside our family, significant others, friends and colleagues, to make sense of things, to cope with grief and frustration, and to change.”
“This exhibition represents what we all need most right now: FAITH that it will be better, BEAUTY to nourish the soul, LOVE to heal the heart, and HOPE to light our way.”
Discover lesser-known treasures that have been personally selected by the ACM community
The first exhibition, Faith Beauty Love Hope – Our Stories, Your ACM, presents more than 60 treasures from ACM’s extensive collection, with some masterpieces presented for the first time. This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to experience these objects up-close as they read anecdotes and musings from the ACM community.
This 18th-century tile panel is one of many stunning pieces at the exhibition. A new acquisition and on display for the first time at ACM, it depicts the fruit-cutting scene from the life of the prophet Yusuf (Joseph), as narrated in the Quran (Sura Yusuf, verse 31). The tile panel has been selected by ACM curator Noorashikin Zulkifli, projecting her fascination for how stories survive, traversing continents and centuries, to become part of our shared culture.
Visitors are also invited to submit their own stories via a digital repository at the end of the exhibitions, and online from January 2021.
The introspective exhibitions continue with Perfect Stranger and thINK
As for the other two exhibitions, Kennie Ting accurately sums them up:
“Perfect Stranger and thINK are extensions of Faith Beauty Love Hope. The former features the voice of an artist as she tackles the wonder and absurdity of the human condition.“
“The latter features the voice of a collector, and celebrates timelessness and constancy, in a time of great change. Our message to the visitor is this: come grieve, vent, celebrate and hope with us.”
Located at the Level 2 Foyer, local artist Dawn Ng’s Perfect Stranger contemporary installation is a vast sea of paper washed in a gradient of words and colour.
Acting as a narrative time capsule, the gorgeous installation stems from Dawn’s daily Q&A project in 2016, where she exchanged thoughts with a stranger – Israeli psychologist, Zehavit Efrati, everyday over the course of a year.
Static yet glimmering, Dawn Ng’s installation is visually emblematic of the contrasts seen in binaries and dualities, such as stillness and change, hello and goodbye. Visitors are free to weave between the artworks into Dawn’s world and reflect on their own sense of time, sense, and self in 2020.
Contemplating the act of remembering and collecting through Chinese calligraphy
In thINK: Chinese Calligraphy, Connoisseurship, and Collecting, ACM marries history with the contemporary through the collection of long-time lender to ACM, Dr Yuan Shao Liang.
Adopting an archival approach, 23 objects from the Ming and Qing dynasties were selected from Dr Yuan’s extensive collection and displayed within an intimate, contemporary setting.
The exhibition aims to evoke personal responses towards the act of remembering and collecting, as visitors are introduced to human relationships, political sentiments, military affairs and antiquity trading via the Chinese ink and literati pieces.
Art in a time of pandemic
The upcoming exhibitions are a testimony of the ACM community’s sheer resilience during these strange times. If this year’s challenges have overwhelmed you in any way, perhaps these exhibitions showcasing the strength of the human spirit throughout time could inspire you once again.
Faith Beauty Love Hope – Our Stories, Your ACM and Perfect Stranger will open on 23 December 2020 and run through 28 February 2021.
Meanwhile, thINK: Chinese Calligraphy, Connoisseurship, and Collecting will run from 23 December 2020 to 25 April 2021.
While admission is free for Perfect Stranger, fees apply for the other exhibitions. For more info, please visit www.acm.org.sg.
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