While I type these words on my laptop at a hawker centre, I can’t help but notice the uncles looking over from the next table. They are not the only ones. Passersby stare curiously, including the cleaner who slows down whenever she pushes her trolley by.
Maybe it’s how my sleek laptop stands out from the gaudy mustard table. Or how I had casually plonked this shiny aluminum slab on a plastic surface stained by kopi and teh. As the only customer using a laptop in the hawker centre, I stand out like a sore thumb. My back certainly feels that way from sitting on the stiff stool.
Architect William S.W. Lim’s radical ideas on the Asian city were the subject of a playful exhibition on city life at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore.
That no architecture models could be found in an exhibition about an architect speaks volumes about the work and diverse influences of William Lim Siew Wai. Though the Singaporean architect has practised for over four decades—having worked on projects ranging from the brutalist mixed-use icon Golden Mile Complex (1974), to the recently demolished postmodern Gallery Evason Hotel (2000)—Lim is best known today as an advocate. His message is that cities in Asia can develop their own urbanism and people can be involved in building cities.
An exhibition of Japanese street photographer Daido Moriyama’s works was on trend, but missing a critical edge.
Singapore is having a moment with all things Japanese right now. In September, fashion giant Uniqlo opened a global flagship store in Orchard Road, forgetting its 24 other stores across this city. Homeware retailer MUJI is also expanding here, opening a flagship store next year to join its existing 10 outlets in Singapore. This year also saw the opening of two Japanese food markets, as if there was not already enough Japanese restaurants in this little red dot.
Amongst this Nippon tsunami is also the Southeast Asian debut exhibition for Daido Moriyama, Japan’s “father of street photography” as part of this year’s 5th Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF). Unlike the consumer-friendly minimalist and kawaii sheen the country has sold to Singapore, however, Daido Moriyama: Prints and Books from 1960s—1980s, confronts viewers with a dark, gritty and stark portrait of Japan.