Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

IS ART A GOOD MIRROR OF A COMMUNITY? We went to the Singapore Art Museum this afternoon to catch the museum's Biennale 2011 open house . This city-state has a reputation as being bland and predictable. However, the exhibits here were neither. One I liked was "Wings" by Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan (above). The artwork makes use of hundreds of slipper/sandals. They were used once by INMATES IN SINGAPORE PRISONS. Like I said, I liked the idea.
Another eye-stopper is based on a landmark photograph taken in Thailand. A student is striking the body of a student who was hanged during the Thammasat University massacre in the photo, which was taken on Oct. 6, 1976. In this piece artist Manit Sriwanichpoorn has inserted a mysterious "Pink Man" in the scene (right). The artist did this to prompt discussion of the meaning and ownership of history. I guess it's OK in the name of art, but it also raises questions about the ownership of a photograph, at least to a small extent. It would have been nice if the curator or artist had acknowledged the original photographer in the description on the wall. This one was taken by Neal Ulevich of The Associated Press. It was part of a series he took for which he received the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography. I was transfixed by it in a display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., in December. The one at the Newseum did NOT have the Pink Man in it, of course.

A LITTLE RAIN WON'T STOP THEM: While Sandy and I did a circum-ambulation of Marina Bay in the morning, we came across a group of people huddled under an overpass, awaiting the beginning of a fund-raising walk. A little Googling afterward revealed this was in support of the Consumers Association of Singapore. It's a nonprofit, non-governmental organization with roots in the late 1960s and early 1970s when pork and bread prices were getting too high.
According to the organization's web site, most cases dealt with in 2010 were in the fields of BEAUTY, TIMESHARES and CONTRACTING. In 2009, the top three were BEAUTY, TIMESHARES and EDUCATION. Last year the group recovered $3.8 million in cash or in-kind work for consumers. No, the government can't, and shouldn't, do it all.

NOT EXACTLY MARCH MADNESS: The brackets for the men's (and women's) NCAA basketball tournaments are flying around offices and campuses throughout the U.S. Selections were made at dawn on March 14 (Singapore time). But it's hard to measure any excitement here. As many in the U.S. know, there's not much interest in college sports in these parts.
My Exhibit A is my black shirt that carries the Longhorn logo of the University of Texas (right). I really hadn't thought much about having the shirt on until a server at a restaurant called me over and said--excitedly, in an accent that I found hard to cut through, "Are you a Bulls fan? Are you a Bulls fan?" He pointed to the logo. Nowhere in there did I hear "Texas." He had no idea what I was talking about when I said the image was of a Longhorn steer, the mascot for the University of Texas, arguably one of the strongest collegiate athletic programs in the country.
The restaurant employee was much more interested in, and knowledgeable of, the Chicago Bulls.
That NBA team has a somewhat similar logo, which also looks good on black (right). The NBA has some sway here. College sports, nope. I'm thinking about this because the NCAA's March Madness is fast approaching. I hope to be able to catch some of it in Singapore. The odds are that the event will feel more like March Meekness than March Madness in these parts. Not sure if I will be able to see any on streaming video on or if some games will be on TV in some bar or club. Stay tuned.

CRANE INDEX SWINGS BACK INTO THE PICTURE: The trip to Australia took me away from the office, so I could not track the Life of Cranes at the closest corner of the shipping complex. Here's an updated Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator:

Date: March 14
Time: 9:00 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 8
Cranes Down (good): 19
CRANES MISSING (unknown degree of goodness/badness): 1

Date: March 13
Time: 8:30 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 14
Cranes Down (good): 13
CRANES MISSING (unknown degree of goodness/badness): 1

Date: March 12
Time: 8:30 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 9
Cranes Down (good): 18
CRANES MISSING (unknown degree of goodness/badness): 1

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