When was the last time you visited a museum? I’ll bet that was as far back as in the days of primary school excursions. Those excursions very nearly killed my impression of museums. I thought they were boring old places with dull artifacts that were disintegrating anyway, completely irrelevant to my here and now.
Until! My part time job as a guide for Singapore Biennale last year revived my dying interest. If not for that, NHB would probably have lost me as a patron forever. I certainly wasn’t going to step into a museum of my own accord, for no incentives.
I’m not particularly artsy. I like pretty things and I do admire artists and clever designs. But I could never claim the ability to create art that would win the esteem of others. Not anytime soon, anyway. But what I’ve learnt from my stint with Singapore Biennale is that art is really for everyone. But for the average person like you and I, the ‘learning curve’ is gonna be a hell of a hurdle. It wasn’t easy for me. I’ve had to memorize my script, taking another person’s interpretation as my own, and rehearsing for fluency.
The first time I took a group, I stuttered and spluttered and used series of inane gestures to make my point, strangled for words. But I got better. By the third group, I was adding in opinions of my own, winning the respect and rapt attention of the students I was guiding. And I’m thankful for the encouragement, these charming little kids. (Well, not really. They’re secondary and JC students.) I remember one time, I got so inspired talking about this wonderful sculpture that had a dancer in a billowing crimson dress stretched from one wall to the opposite one, her head unseen through the wall, suggesting a realm beyond that wall; I was so animated describing its implication on our own society and our own struggles that when I stopped. Phew! They burst out in applause! And that was when I thought, “My God, I could do this.” And then I wanted to be a curator.
Okay, so maybe that will just be another dream lost in my long list of ambitions but hey! Even if I never go into Art my whole life, at least I can appreciate it. We all just need that one point of initiation to get fired up and passionate about Art. I didn’t know the first thing about interpreting art. Nothing you say about art being subjective and personal and “there are no wrong answers” could get ME talking about Art because I just didn’t SEE anything. But all I needed was that point of entry, that one person’s perspective and from there, I extrapolated my own view and that just unravelled, on and on and on.
So if you haven’t already gotten involved, well now’s the time to start. National Museum’s having their annual Night Fest on 10th and 11th July, from 7:30pm to 2am and the street performances will stretch across Bras Basah. There’s even the flea market! (Shopping’s an art too.) How often do you get to see the museum come alive at night?