Over the last decade, some 20 titles have sprung up from Singapore, riding the wave of its cultural renaissance and defying the fact the city-state was once known for its tight media censorship (Singapore still ranks 154 out of 180 in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index). Over the decade or so though, the Singaporean government has pumped in millions of bucks to grow its creative sector and nurture creativity among its citizens—and an independent magazine scene has flourished from this intersection.
I came, I saw, and I left broke. This is a familiar experience for lovers of art book fairs the world over. It was certainly what happened to me at the recent Singapore Art Book Fair 2016, an annual showcase of arts publishing from the Southeast Asian city-state and its surrounding region. Inspired by similar fairs in Tokyo and New York City, independent bookstore BooksActually founded its own version of this fair with creative consultancy Hjgher three years ago. After sitting out last year, the fair returned last weekend, turning the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands into a “Cabinet of Curiosities.”
Order, efficiency, and cleanliness are probably not the first things most creatives look for in their ideal place to live. So when Singapore advertising and design agency Kinetic dreamt up a guide to introduce their country to the world, they went a little crazy.
Ultimately, they came up with Zinegapore, a zany alternative take on how Singapore’s corporate-like efficiency overshadows a burgeoning creative industry that has emerged over the last decade or so.
Eschewing conventional travel guides that simply list attractions, Kinetic’s free iPad-only guide offers a highly irreverent, yet refreshingly honest guide to everyday life in Singapore. Images of banks in this international finance capital are presented (literally) as “Places of Interest.” Singaporeans’ love for acronyms are expressed in a word search puzzle, and the city’s reputation for cleanliness is turned into a game of spotting the sheer number of trash bins on its streets.