OH 2011

Andrew: When we last went to the Open House exhibition last year, we found ourselves being more excited by the concept than by the actual execution of it. Putting art into actual residences and using the character of the residence to comment on and highlight aspects of the art pieces had so much potential, yet many times this was not fully utilised. You can read more about it in our blog post here.

We’ve been informed that Open House is going to be done again next year and the best part is that it’s going to be at Marine Parade – where Dearie lives! That’s going to be really interesting as Dearie always talks about how the Katong area is so rich in heritage and she often brings visitors from overseas to walk around the houses to admire the architecture and the culture. I remember her Greek friend sticking his head out of my car window to take photos of the shophouses when he came earlier this year! (Jasmine: I also brought my Aussie friend, Scally, for a walk around the Joo Chiat shophouses, where we also did the touristy thing and took photos.)

I’ve looked at their websites and some of the featured artists and their past ‘pieces’ do look quite promising:

jes brinch Jes Birches, Installation in Denmark 2006

I’m very keen to see how Jes Birches work will end up being displayed in a Singaporean home. I can see how this would work in an exhibition, but I can’t imagine anybody willing to let an artist do this to their home! Once again, the play on the concept of defamiliarisation forcing us to relook at the way we place objects in a home and how that determines the ways we ‘look’ at those objects and understand them.

Yen Lin Teng - Linear Perspective (2), 2009 Yen Lin Teng - Linear Perspective, 2009 Yen Lin Teng, Linear Perspective, drawing installation, SAM@8Q

I don’t think the pictures here quite do justice to what the art is doing and I can’t really tell if the OHP in the second picture is ‘3D’ or merely ‘2D’. This piece looks really fun! I can imagine many kids running around and trying to ‘play’ with the various sketches on the floor and the wall.

They are also featuring some of Zhao Renhui’s works. I know he’s won Young Artist of the Year, unfortunately when I saw some of his photographs last year, I really couldn’t make head or tail of them. They were well-taken shots no doubt, but I couldn’t understand what he wanted to achieve. Perhaps this time it would be better as I’ve heard he’s been told to construct a narrative with these homes.

Jasmine: Since Andrew has already done the hard work of researching the exhibiting artists, I’ll share about two things I hope to see at Open House 2011.

1. Construct a comprehensive “living trail” that links architecture to art and if possible, Katong’s food history. There is such a wealth of Peranakan culture in Katong that it cannot not inspire art. On the other hand, the transmogrification of historical Katong into an affluent suburb increasingly popular with expats could also be good fodder for artistic critique.

2. Do not treat houses as white boxes or showrooms, but rather, integrate the installations naturalistically within the home. Like Andrew, I think Jes Birches’ aesthetic might be a good fit for this style of art placement because he seems to excel in rendering the ordinary familiar yet strange.

Curators should not be afraid of a little situational irony. For example, one of the wittier ideas for OH 2010 involved placing Zhao’s cockroach photographs in a basement, with a bottle of Shelltox.

Andrew: Interestingly enough, the OH committee has even set up a blog here to give us the latest scoop on what’s going to happen in Open House 2011 and the website itself has been designed in a rather Monopoly-like manner. Do check the Open House 2011 website out if you’re keen!


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