Open House!, an annual exhibition that takes into people’s homes, is the brainchild of the inimitable Alan Oei. “The first edition, in 2009, saw eight residents of shophouses along Niven Road opening their doors. Last year, it was Marine Parade’s turn to host. This year, it’s heritage-rich Tiong Bahru. Residents of six flats and one temple [get] a makeover from 15 artists for an interactive artistic venture.”
Last year, when I popped by Marine Parade, just months after we had moved to Singapore, I had little knowledge of Singapore’s history, geography, and art. I left overwhelmed and frustrated; I had no context for what I was seeing. I admit, I’m no expert now. But, because I know just a bit more, this year’s walkabout was such an exciting and enriching experience. (Though I don’t know if this year’s edition addressed the central question posited in all its press materials [“What happens when gentrification meets long-time community? Is there more to our city’s hippest area?”] I’m still mulling over that; ask me about it in a few weeks.)
My personal Open House! 2012 highlights? Zhao Renhui’s haunting, oversized photographs of songbirds (Tiong Bahru was once known for its aviaries); Isabelle Desjeux’s The Laboratory of Waste Management, a “scientific” lab re-created in a bathroom; and Gilles Massot’s re-imagination of Qi Tian Gong, or the Monkey God Temple, on Eng Hoon Street.
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Also, my love for Art Deco architecture knows no bounds. So yes, I desperately wanted to poke my nose into people’s homes and admire the neighborhood’s interiors. (Herringbone hardwood floors and mosaic-tiled walls, oh my!) And, yes, I left with apartment envy.
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If you’re keen, it’s on for one more weekend. Purchase your tickets at Tiong Bahru Community Centre—only 400 are sold a day—to join the guided tour. Tours start at 4pm; the last leaves at 8pm. Tours run for approximately 90 minutes. Go early. The queues are mad long.
UPDATE: Read a proper review over at The Longue Durée….