We went for our first OH! Open House in 2011. Held in the Marine Parade HDB housing estate, we visited/trespassed strangers’ homes in the name of art: we saw some photography from Zhao Renhui, an inverted room and its right-way-up mirrored twin as well as a staircase landing filled with anamorphic paintings. Pretty fun.
For this year’s edition, OH! goes corporate. The tour takes place across six locations in the new financial district, including a couple of banks, a law firm and a secret not-yet-open-to-public area at The Sail @ Marina Bay. We rode fancy, very secure elevators (please forgive me; I’ve only worked in shophouses where the security is at best a heavy door). The first venue, the DBS Social Hub, is impressive in a hipster way (astroturf flooring, check) and boosts a fantastic view. The Google office, or at least the teeny weeny bit that was open to us, looks fun and has lovely retro tiles.
But yes, the art. We loved studioKaleido‘s Shelf Help installation of how-to books. In all sincerity, we would like to have some insight on some of the questions/topics, but we reckon that indeed, the contents of the books may be a good enough answer. There was also a little surprise at this venue, and we really enjoyed it.
Tan Peiling‘s contemplative multi-sensory installation And They Gathered Them Together In Heaps at the appropriately dim and neatly chaotic offices of Ann Tan & Associates surprised us, pleasantly. It would be lovely to have a solitary moment or two in that office. Surrounded by mounds of documents in the dark and slightly claustrophobic space, it would be somewhat comforting to be able to listen to the sounds of the expansive coast, its pulsating waves and the distant horns of ships.
Frayn Yong’s Fragile Structures and Evil Empire’s performance at The Sail were also standouts. Frayn Yong’s delicate pencil lead sculptures were constructed on-site by the artist himself, who paid special attention to how the light fell on the miniature sculptures and their resulting shadows. Distilled down into basic lines and shapes, even the most “powerful” and complicated buildings become accessible. Evil Empire’s piece requested from us complete silence, and amid a powerful reading from Kafka’s Before the Law in his novel The Trial, we were brought onto the secret travelator to a cul-de-sac. Cue red lights, reflective surfaces, nervous glances at your partner. Unnerving.
We did feel some of the art would do as well in less site-specific installations, and this lack of synergy between the artworks and the space is worth a lament. We also thought it a shame that we didn’t get much free rein to explore the spaces. While we understood the security issues at hand and that most of these offices have limited access even during working hours, it would be great to go beyond the this-is-the-artwork show-and-tell routine. Kudos, however, to the guides, whom we believe must have walked too many km’s, repeated things too many times, kept kaypoh adults out of restricted areas too many times.
OH! Open House 2013: The Happiness Index continues for the next two weekends (12, 13, 19 and 20 January 2013) from 11am – 5pm. Tours start at the DBS Asia Central Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3 Level 3, and leave every 15 minutes. Each tour takes about 2 hours in all, but do cater ample time for unexpected delays. Tickets cost S$20 and can be purchased at the door, but please arrive at least half an hour before your preferred start time. Advance tickets can also be purchased here – for S$40, you get to choose your dates and get some OH! merchandise. It’s a bit of a walk around the area, so wear comfortable shoes and expect unreasonable Singapore weather.
(We’ll put up more photos from the tour after OH! 2013 ends. But it will be infinitely more fun if you experience it yourself.)