The word “roots” brings to mind a fixed origin, a past so deeply ingrained that it nourishes the present. Singapore’s perceived roots then present a dissonance. In the eyes of most, the country’s story began with its transformation from a sleepy fishing village to a thriving cityscape. Rather than an unchanging essence, our roots lie in the journey – the success of change.
Perhaps the word “routes” would be more apt for Singapore, a country whose landscape is constantly updated and reconstructed. The title ‘About Routes, Not Roots’ speaks of both Singapore’s continual evolution and neglected history. What, after all, was this island before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819? We prefer not to look too far back; the future is always on our minds.
Merging the past and present, the exhibition pairs visual languages from two generations. It combines black and white works by modern photographer Lim Kwong Ling (b. 1932) with video art utilising machine-learning technology by DASSAD, an artist collective comprising Dave Lim (b. 1994), Adar Ng (b.1994) and Woong Soak Teng (b.1994). All the artists address the city’s push for growth and expansion. While Lim’s photographs pay tribute to the labours and joys of the late 1900s, the collective’s work reflects the wandering thoughts of an increasingly digitalised population, one that contemplates upon their shifting home.