Sunday, December 31, 2006

Project Bandaloop at the National Museum of Singapore

For the past few weeks, I have found it very difficult not to have a reason to go to the National Museum of Singapore. Here, I thank the museum for its interesting and inspiring selection of programmes and activities organised as part of its Opening Festival.

Yesterday, I caught the Project Bandaloop performing live at the National Museum of Singapore. After watching the performance, I have a strong feeling that the choreography of its performances at the museum were site-specific. I was thrilled to see how the movements of the performers interact so fluidly with the spaces of the museum.

The performance by the Project Bandaloop was held at the Concourse and Glass Atrium. When I was there yesterday afternoon, I noticed that the beams from the sun shining through the large glass panes of the glass atrium. It was against this backdrop that the performers performed. Read more about the people who makes Project Bandaloop possible right here:

I noticed that safety was one of the primary concerns. Before the performance, I observed that there were people helping to check the equipment to ensure that it was safe for use. Even during the performance, I noticed that the performers would help one another check the equipment that they are using. I heard from the news that the Project Bandaloop uses mountain-climbing equipments for their performances.

I felt impressed by the performances put by by Project Bandaloop. Firstly, I would think that it takes a lot of physical strength to perform some of the stances that the performers had used, for example, climbing up the ropes. In addition, the moves appeared to demand a greater level of agility from the performers. Since it should be a challenge to remain clear-headed while having to remain upside down for a considerable period of time, I would also think that endurance is greatly demanded from each and every performer too.

After posting the photos above, I realised that it is simply impossible to appreciate the creativity and the art of the Project Bandaloop by looking at photographs. One simply has to be there, live, to experience the movements, the interactions between the lines created by the dancers, the rhythms of the music, and the structures and spaces of the museum.

If you have missed the earlier performances, the Project Bandaloop will perform again tonight (31 Jan 2006) at the National Museum of Singapore at 11 p.m. Tonight's performance is held in conjuction with the Countdown at the National Museum (Singapore)

After the performance, the performers of the Project Bandaloop stayed behind to answer to questions from the members of the audience. It was a thoughtful and nice gesture, I think. Alright, my confession here, I had wanted to ask them what the basic training regime of the performers would be like, but I was too shy to ask. If any reader here managed to do so, please do share with me. Thank you.

You may also wish to check out the following URLs:

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The exhibition at National Museum of Singapore: Maria Theresia

Portrait of Maria Theresia when she was a teenager.

It was fairly irrestible for me not to go for the exhibition, Maria Theresia - Mother Empress of Habsburg Austria, held at the National Museum of Singapore.

I felt pretty impressed after reading the ascribed capabilities of Maria Theresia from one of the publicity materials for this exhibition. Here's a snippet of the publicity materials that had caught my eye: "This exhibition will explore the intricacies and complexities faced by a woman monarch and her ingenity in tackling the challenges at a time where such vocations were considered to be a purely male dominated entity..."

In my mind, when I went on this exhibition, I sought to find out what would be the attributes that would make one a woman with the strength of character.

Prior to the exhibition, I decided that it would be a good idea to enjoy a cup of Austrian beverage at Wiener Kaffeehaus. There's a Wiener Kaffeehaus outlet just nearby the exhibition gallery, at the basement of the museum. I ordered hot chocolate and a piece of Wiener Apfel Strudel. The hot chocolate was nice and it came with a piece of marshmallow. The apple strudel looked novel and I like the whipped cream that went with it.

After the meal, with my ticket in my hand, I walked my way into the exhibition gallery. I felt rather disappointed when I saw the sign indicating that there would be no guided tour to the exhibition on that very day. I secretly asked myself if I should just ask for a refund and come another day. However, the Mozart music that was playing from the exhibition gallery seemed to beckon me to go in. And I shall say that I had succumbed to the power of that music.

Without a guide, and with my limited knowledge of the history of Austria and the 18th century Europe, I felt I was like a history bluff trying to make the most out of my visit to the exhibition. Nevertheless, the experience at the exhibition still turned out to be fairly rewarding. For one thing, I was treated with a continuous stream of music composed by, if I was not wrong, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The music seemed to have brought an ambience of elegance and dignity to the entire exhibition. While I was in the exhibition gallery, I also enjoyed being away from the noises of the busy city life. Other than the treats to my ears, my eyes were treated to many royal artefacts.

The exhibit is related to the topic of the Pragmatic Sanction.

Meantime, before I write about the royal artefacts, I think it might be good to start with the Pragmatic Sanction. I truly don't know much about it, but I do remember from my trip to the exhibition, that the Pragmatic Sanction was one of the key instruments that had eventually contributed to Maria Theresia's inheritance of the Habsburg monarchy. I had wished that I could have someone knowledgeable on the subject to be beside me then so as to fill me in with more information.

From the exhibition, I managed to gain a gist of understanding of how Maria Theresia had been raised and educated. I also realised that she had not been raised to be a successor of the Habsburg monarchy. Her ascension to the throne was very much an unexpected one, it seemed.

This exhibition also touches on her love story with Franz Stephan (Francis I), whom she later married and had 16 children with.

The precious metals and glamorous pearls and jewels from the replica of the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire were simply too attention-seeking to be ignored. According to what I read from one of the publicity materials, "the crown features religious figures from the Holy Book as embodiments of the virtues of justice, wisdom and faith in God - traits essential for a ruler".

Replica of the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire

As best as I could remember, on the right is the Golden Imperial Cross.

What I particularly like about this exhibition was being able to read about the various reforms that Maria Theresia had made to Education, the Army, and Healthcare. I could sense that Maria Theresia had been a diplomatic, compassionate and far-sighted ruler.

I was impressed reading about Maria Theresia as the Head of the Army. This could be found under the Wars section. According to the notes from one of the exhibits, she's "well-known to have made extraordinary efforts to win over her soldiers with generosity". If I were to think about the context of the times that she had lived in, I could better appreciate the importance of winning the loyalty of one's soldiers. At this section of the exhibition, I found about the Seven Years' War against Prussia and how the earning of the loyalty of her soldiers had refrained the soldiers from deserting during this difficult war.

Do check out this section to find out how Maria Theresia had won the loyalthy of her soldiers and the special privileges that Maria Theresia granted to her soldiers. My interpretations of the lessons to be drawn from this section: Going the extra mile to show one's appreciation and recognition of the efforts of those who have served one can make one's followers feel valued and earn their loyalty. Sincerity matters too.

Right above: Star of the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St Stephan.

After reading about the reforms that Maria Theresia had made to the Army, and about Maria Theresia as the Head of the Army, I felt more able to appreciate the value of the Star of the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St Stephan. " The St Stephan's Order was founded by Maria Theresia in 1764 as a merit for senior military officers." Notice that the white Patriarchal Cross is flanked by the initials of the founder of the order.

There was a section on Maria Theresia as a devout Roman Catholic. Do check out the Reliquary Bust of St Francis Xavier and the Communion Chalice.

Reliquary Bust of St Francis Xavier

Communion Chalice

There was a section on the Imperial family of Maria Theresia. Do find out about the political marriages of many of her children. After viewing the exhibition, I wondered if Maria Theresia's daughter, Marie Antoinette, would have suffered the ill-fate of being executed by guillotine if she had been given the freedom to marry for love in the very first place.

Life in the palace seemed to be lavish. Words cannot exactly illustrate the point, but it might help if you look at the artefacts right below and judge for yourself.

Parts of Empress Maria Theresia's Gold Breakfast Crockery.

The table setting for a fruit and dessert course.

One of my favourite sections was the Art & Culture section of the exhibition. It speaks briefly about how the Imperial family were patrons of the Art and Culture at the time. As for the rest, I shall let the photographs tell the story.

I had hoped to share a better-taken photo of a harpsichord, but the one below was the best that I could manage after several attempts. If your eyes are sharp, you may notice the three-piece paravant in Rococo Style on the right background. Do find out what makes such frames the works of high-quality craftsmanship at the time of Maria Theresia.

Foreground: Harpsichord

All the photographs that you see in this post are taken using non-flash photography. Please take note of the Photography & Filming guidelines set by the National Museum of Singapore. As the use of flash and tripod is prohibited, one of the challenges I had faced was that of capturing clear shots using non-flash photography.

After the exhibition, I reflected for a brief moment. I figured that to be a woman with the strength of character, there is a high possibility that one may inevitably face many life challenges and even, resistance from others. The ingredients that could facilitate a woman to build such strength of character could be: self-discipline, being compassionate, being appreciative, time-management skills, being humble to take advice from the wiser ones, and the wisdom to make sound judgements and implement these. Perhaps there could be more. If you have other thoughts on this, please do share.

Angela has written a post about this exhibition too. Do check out her post, A Royal Affair.


Exhibition details:
Mother Theresia - Mother Empress of Habsburg Austria
Venue: National Museum of Singapore, Changing Exhibitions Galleries
Date: 8 Dec 2006 to 31 Jan 2007
Admission Charges: $8 for adults
(Concession's available for students and NSmen.)

You may also wish to refer to the following:

Also see: Second visit to the exhibition: Maria Theresia

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Master Street Painter at work

While I was at the National Museum of Singapore, I had the privilege to see Kurt Wenner, a Master Street Painter, at work.

In conjunction with the National Museum's Opening Festival, Kurt Wenner has been invited "to create an original anamorphic drawing, live, at the National Museum."

It was an interesting experience to see an artist at work. Having taken art lessons in the past myself, I must say that Kurt Wenner has very good technique. I love the way he handled the pastels so proficiently. It reminded me to consider taking some time to return to sketching. I haven't been sketching for quite a long time, but I must say that sketching is very therapeutic.

Kurt Wenner has a website:

While seeing him in action, I secretly wish that one day I can become wealthy enough to commission him to do some artworks for me.

Meantime, he will be at the National Museum of Singapore till 19 Dec 2006, so do check out. Details can be found here.

Edit: Veron has a wonderful post on Kurt Wenner at the National Museum, check out her post: Kurt Wenner at the National Museum
Edit2: Do check out Viv & Chewie's post too: Kurt Wenner - google eye extraordinaire

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Walking in a maze with glowing mysterious-looking lights, I could not help but awe at how Architects of Air conceptualised and constructed Amozozo.

Amozozo was a temporary installation at the National Museum of Singapore held in conjuction with the museum's Opening Festival.

I took the following photo of the site where Amozozo stood at the grounds of the museum at about 1.30 p.m. on 10 Dec 2006. The structure would only resume its original intended form in the evening, so at 1.30 p.m., all I could see of it was plain plastic materials lying on the ground.

According to this website:, Amozozo is a luminaria sculpture "made up of over 60 triangular domes which create a wandering path similar to the experience of the bazaar. Where the paths meet, there is mosque-like dome".

Please pardon me of my ignorance, that was probably the first time that I have encountered a work by the Architects of Air. I have not seen any kind of installation like Amozozo before, so out of curiosity, I joined the long queue outside the structure of Amozozo. At about 6 p.m. the structure had already rose to its original intended form.

The long queue outside Amozozo. Notice its triple dome structure.
In the foreground is the installation Seeds by Han Sai Por.

It took me at least half-an-hour of waiting before I could enter Amozozo, but it was worthwhile. Although the experience wasn't the most perfect because I didn't enjoy being in an enclosed place with children who make loud sounds, it was still quite impressive to wonder at how the entire structure was conceptualised and realised. My feelings told me that it must have required of the artist a considerable amount of engineering knowledge in order to realise the concepts behind this structure.

I felt as if I was walking in a winding maze, with beautiful luminous lights. Occasionally, I would see people sitting themselves down at some corners of the structure, enjoying the tactile sensation of leaning against the air-filled structure. I tried to do so myself, but I found myself being quite cautious about not leaning too heavily against it, lest I might poke a hole in it unintentionally.

People sitting down to chat away and laze about at one corner of the structure.

After I exited from the structure, I took a look at the Amozozo from the outside. Against the backdrop of the evening skies, the structure seemed to be radiating light.

A thought also came to my mind that the National Museum of Singapore may be trying to position itself as an interactive museum where history and the present interact seamlessly with one another. Afterall, it isn't wrong to reason that we are who we are today because of our past. Perhaps my recent experience with Amozozo may have an effect on my experiences and perspective in the future?

After taking a last look at the external structure of Amozozo from a distance, I bid farewell to the museum for the evening.

There will be more events coming up at the National Museum of Singapore this December. Please check out for more details.

Also see:
National Museum of Singapore Opening Festival
Architects of Air

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hydromania, at National Museum of Singapore

On 2 Dec 2006, after a delightful dinner with one of my good friends, we proceeded for the National Museum of Singapore.

At about 7.30 p.m., my friend and I each found ourselves a spot to sit down on the grass area surrounding the museum's Stamford Entrance. What were we doing there? We were waiting for Hydromania, by Avanti Dislay to start at 8 p.m.

My friend did not have much idea what she would be watching so I suppose I must be thankful that she was brave and obliging enough to trust me and my recommendation. She told me she does not usually find herself sitting down on the grass to watch a performance whose contents she has no idea of.

At 7.30 p.m., there was not much of a crowd as yet, but by 8 p.m., I could see a large pull of crowd surrounding the Stamford Entrance.

Before I start writing about the performance, I shall wind the time back to a few hours before the performance.

It was about three hours before the performance, I could see several men setting up for the performance. Since the performance involved the use of water, it was no surprise that I saw hoses containing water. I also saw men on the roof-top of the museum. I wondered how the performance would be later the evening, but I had a feeling that my friend would find it refreshing.

Turning the time to 7.45 p.m., my friend and I decided that we shall take photographs of the grass! There is something special about the grass. I could not tell what makes it special but it looked like good quality grass. In addition, the soil that the grass grew on didn't seem to be mud-clay. It was fairly dry, clean and well-maintained.

I love the thought of sitting on clean grass to catch a performance. Somehow, doing so reminds me of the times when I was visiting United Kingdoms. Sitting on grass is quite a norm there since the grass in UK is quite clean to sit on. On the other hand, I could hardly remember any area of grass in Singapore that feels dry and clean enough for one to sit with ease on. Maybe, I have found that area of grass on 2 Dec 2006?

I shall give the credits to my friend for coming up with the concept for this photograph: grass, shoe, drink and bums.

While waiting, we could not help but while our time by taking photographs of the museum's building. Maybe that was our way of enjoying the simple pleasures of life?

This photo was taken by my friend.

At 8.05 p.m., we took this photograph and the camera's lenses were pointed towards the direction of the empty stage.

I did not like the singing item at the start of the performance. However, the performance by Avanti Display proved itself to be a humourous, original and refreshing performance.

I was so enticed with the performance that I decided I shall just simply watch the performance and not take too many photographs. As such, my apologies that I would not have any photograph of the The Spurting Man in action.

It turned out that my friend enjoyed the performance too. I supposed that she wasn't alone.

If you have missed Hydromania, there are many other of activities and events. For more information, do check out: