It’s been almost three months now since I packed up my bags and moved to Singapore for work (and you can probably tell how busy its been with my lack of regular posts here lately). In that time, I’ve painted a whole bunch, met a whole bunch of rad artists and had the opportunity to participate in one of the coolest things I have seen, artistically, in Singapore on my many trips here.
I first heard about An Eminent Takeover just after I arrived, when in a chance meeting I was told that a special project was in the works to convert an old dilapidated “vice mall” into a spontaneous, artist embellished space. Due to be knocked down, Eminent Plaza was a place of … well, dubious activity. “Massage” parlours full of happy endings and k-bars full of scantily clad women, probably the best thing about it was that it is next door to Lavender Food Square – one of Singapores awesome Hawker centres.
Now, in its place, a big office building is about to be constructed, but in the weeks leading up to its closure last weekend, it took on a new life as one of the coolest installation spaces I have seen – anywhere – An Eminent Takeover.
Having had the chance to paint one of the main road facing walls early on in the event, I spent my “away from the sun time” looking around. At that stage, there were some cool bits and piece happening inside the building, but nothing that would come close to what it would resemble after three weeks of constant artistic action. Illustrations on walls, interactive performances, the “Lavenda Health Spa” converted into a weird, intriguing installation space, and, of course, graffiti and other intemporary art covering walls and spaces throughout the building – it was real poetry in motion shit, and every weekend I was surprised all over again but whatever new had been created.
This was something that money cant buy – in a city where art is often overly commodified, and where money is spent on trying to improve the aritstic culture, An Eminent Takeover proved that you really cant buy some of the best things that artists have to offer – everyone who did work down there volunteered it. To have been able to witness the evolution of the space in a place where conservatism is a way of life, it was, I hope, a harbinger of what could be possible if that overt conservatism is relaxed a little, and artists are allowed to do what they want to do without restriction, and left to have free reign over whatever they wish to create. Of course, there were some minor caveats – overtly political artworks were still quite absent, and the constant worry that it could all get shut down before its ending was, Im sure, in the curators and project managers minds throughout – but this ended up not being a problem, and that was also quite telling. I do wonder if but even a handful of years ago, that something like this may not have even been possible.
A constant stream of people, a plethora of general public stopping to take photos and explore he maze like interior of the building, and artists from all walks of life – musicians, writers, photographers, sculptors, illustrators and some of the best graffiti artists in Singapore, all came together to create an experience quite unlike anything I’ve seen – even in Melbourne.
Check out this great video about the event from the Today newspaper – awesome 3 minute recap worth watching!
Heres a rather lengthy, but cool, video of all the art in the building – its long, but worth checking out.
For all the creativity inside, everyone who went in knew it was impermanent – as of now, its all shut down, and the wrecking balls will arrive shortly. Walls will be knocked down, fragments of painted bricks will be discarded, and Eminent Plaza will remain only in the minds, photos, sounds and videos that were created as a part of its documentation. For me, a big thankyou to the organisers, especially Elisa Lam, the project manager, and curators Naomi Wang and Razi Razak, who made it all possible – you guys did something really, really fucking cool, and I cant wait to see what you think of next.
Enjoy the photos, an take your time – there are a shitloads, and all worth the viewing. For more info, and other documentation of the event, check out the facebook page.
“A collaborative community project by Tact Space x THE RSC
The hashtag ‘urbanisme’ begins an exploration on the role of urban cities through the involvement of collectives – Tact Space and THE RSC. Thus begins “An Eminent Takeover” – A potently reactive and multi-disciplinary collaboration that activates creativity through art and music.
The “Takeover” will occur at the Eminent Plaza in the month of September 2014 with artworks and music acts populating disused KTV lounges, massage parlours and office cubicles. As a site of spontaneity and reflection, Eminent Plaza’s notorious “vice mall” reputation re-focuses discussions on Singapore’s increasingly sanitised persona, triggering much imagination on the conception and idea of the ‘Urban Character’.
The Eminent Plaza built in the 1980s is slated for demolition in October 2014. We are opening the building doors for one last retrospective peak. Throughout the month long “Takeover”, anticipate amongst other projects, the majestic return of the “Identite Series”. Come bid adieu and share this amazing experience with us.
Weekday Hours 6-10pm
Weekend Hours 3-8pm
Earlier hours by appointment –
Please email [email protected]
Paul Irving Pereira
Agnes M K Yit
Band of doodlers
LASALLE Fine Arts MA & BA Alumni
Ade Putra Safar bin Fuad
Nafa Fine Art Diploma & Graduates
Lin Yu Hao
McCoy Yip Chun Yong
Lapsap studio. Bands residency – Cashew Chemists, Pleasantry and A N E C H O I S
Artist studio residency – Speak Cryptic
Supported by Statement, Fhage, DCNSTRCT, Canopus Distro and DUNCE.
Official food court – Lavender Food Square. (Also known as Lavender Food Court)”