Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday, Tuesday, March 28-29, 2011

MUSEUM TURNS TO CENSORSHIP, WITHOUT TELLING THE ARTIST: Earlier, I mentioned the 2011 Singapore Biennale at the Singapore Art Museum and thought it was refreshing and provocative. I think I have to step back a little from that. When we got back from Hong Kong, we were greeted on Monday by an article in the Straits Times that said "Museum censors explicit art work." The piece--which actually transformed a room in the museum into a Spanish bar--is called "Welcome To The Hotel Munber". It included some material that some found objectionable, including some gay pornographic magazines. Museum officials plucked the items from the installation. But the museum officials did not tell British artist Simon Fujiwara about the alteration. The newspaper reported that the museum officials did not have time to discuss the change with the artist during the busy opening weekend. Really? Sounds weak to me. Remember telephones, email, Twitter, carrier pigeons?
Anyway, the ST credited with breaking the story.
The change came AFTER the show's opening and AFTER reviewers had come and gone.

IT'S NOT A TYPICAL PLACE TO VISIT, BUT THE LIBRARY IS EYE-CATCHING: On Tuesday, I MRT'd my way to the City Hall stop and walked to the National Library. It was my second time there. This time I had a purpose. While editing a manuscript, I came across a reference to a book of short stories by Somerset Maugham--The Casuarina Tree. I needed to find a copy to check the reference out. It turns out they had a copy on the eighth floor. I'm not here long enough to merit a library card, but I could read it there. The library's affinity for glass (see photo of entrance above) made the reading room quite enjoyable, even for those whose eyes have seen better days--literally. I couldn't find the reference in any of the short stories to a certain tea-taster. Of course, it's hard to prove something is NOT there (evidence of absence; absence of evidence?). The man might be in the stories. I just couldn't find it. But I enjoyed the stories I read. (Including the "Force of Circumstance" and "The Letter.")
Somerset Maugham's Postscript included this statement, related to Singapore:
"With the exception of Singapore, a city too busy with its own concerns to bother itself with trifles, imaginary names have been chosen for the places in which the action of these stories is supposed to be conducted."

PRESERVING A ONCE-COMMON SIGHT: Gracing the entry of the museum is a bronze assemblage by Chong Fah Cheong of Singapore. It's called Another Day (The Coolies). He depicts a fairly recent pair of coolies--from the 1970s and 1980s, who toiled in various warehouses and boats before the Singapore River was transformed by urban redevelopment. This, I liked. It also showed me that it's OK to raise the soup bowl to the mouth (right). The chopsticks have their limits.

BACK TO CRANE COUNTING: It was hard going a week without counting cranes. Here's an updated chart that includes the numbers for March 28, 29 and 30. I realize this lack of information might have affected your financial adventurism. Sorry about the delay in getting the numbers to you. But you should have seen the SIZE of the CRANES in HONG KONG!!!!! The ones outside our window are kind of small, compared not only to Hong Kong, but also to other terminals along the waterfront here. I think I suffer from cranile envy.

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