Singapore Police (I)
November 2010 issue，Hi Art
In 2004 and 2005, Singapore Tyler Print Research Institute asked me to create some works on ink-and-wash paintings, for which I lived there for about 4 months successively. With perfect large-scale arts facilities and institutions, Singapore has held Art Biennale and exhibitions second to none in Asia. Local people love and enjoy arts so much that even common snack bars and newsstands sell posters of works done by famous artists such as Jeff Koons and Chuck Cruise in addition to Time, Newsweek, New York Times, South China Morning Post and the local United Morning Post. Also known as Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI), Singapore Tyler Print Research Institute was established 9 years ago by moving completely the Tyler Studio in New York to Singapore with funds offered by Singapore government and local public. During the four months I worked here, senior officials and civil personages visited my studio in STPI from time to time for exchanging ideas. Liu Taige （Liu Thai Ker）, who has been entitled “Father of World City Planning”, Chairman of Singapore Arts Council, visited me twice asking after my needs. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister of Education, also enquired me about how to carry out and improve arts education in Singapore. Although I had not been a teacher before and did not know how to make prints even after entering the studio, they still listened to my groundless words with patience and humility, and left their emails to me for further communication in future. What Singapore government hopes is to become one of the centers, like Japan, producing prints in Asia and even the world, with such a slogan, “New Asia-Singapore”.
In this beautiful country of gardens, people are kind, reserved, serious, working hard, civilized, and friendly, which do not mean a lack of ambition and personality. When attending the exit formalities at Changi Airport with luggage, one will see counters in a row, and each policeman’s seat is equipped with a long mirror put horizontally regardless of police rank. At first I thought that people in this beautiful country pursued beauty so enthusiastically that even policemen kept looking into the mirror during working time. Then people told me that they are required by the government to keep smile on the face and treat travelers with politeness, which is reminded by using the mirror all the time.
One can seldom see a policeman on the street of Singapore. People say that police here are invisible and untraceable: although few police can be seen there, they will come as soon as possible when accidents happen, as if they appear from nowhere.
Tyler Print Institute, where I worked, is located at Clarke Quay by Singapore River, next to a bar street like Sanlitun Area in Beijing. However, no noise could be heard even at night, at least not heard by me. The Institute has three stories. With individual kitchens and cleaning service, the top floor, which is wide, is used as habitations for artists, similar to an apartment hotel. Well designed, spacious and bright, the middle floor is used as studios for visiting artists. My studio in Baiziwan was decorated imitating those in STPI. The ground floor has a workshop of producing prints and a special paper mill where excellent print-making and papermaking technicians from at least 5 countries are working. The Institute has perfect security facilities: there is a combination lock at the ground floor and the artists’ studios on the second floor respectively. Those two locks have different codes which are changed frequently. Once I wanted to work in the studio in the evening, and then I pressed incorrect codes by accident. When I was pondering what the changed codes they had notified me in the day were, two policemen in uniform, who were fully equipped, appeared suddenly. (To be continued)
Sunday, October 17th, 2010