The Singapore Biennale is one of those things that can, for a day or two at least, make me feel unequivocally happy about living in Singapore. I usually find a fairly good proportion of the art engaging (though I am admittedly quite a pleb), but what I enjoy most is how each Biennale takes one old, hitherto forgotten building from Singapore’s past and re-opens it for the display of art, often commissioning very cool site-specific installations which make the most out of the particular building’s unique features. I took lots of photographs of the Tanglin Camp barracks at the first Biennale and the old Beach Road Camp buildings at the second Biennale, but in usual fashion I never got round to writing any blog entries and they languished in my hard drive. However, after all these years of failure, I have finally managed to do something for this third Biennale!
The photos in this post are purely of this Biennale’s re-opened building, the Old Kallang Airport. While I have lots of photos of the particular works of art I enjoyed, there’s a certain joy to be had simply from walking around the building which is completely separate from the art you’re ostensibly there to see, and I want to focus on that first. Here’s a thumbnail gallery for anyone who prefers that, but you can also continue reading to get all the photos on one page.
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The driveway into the Old Kallang Airport is lined with gorgeous old trees.
At the gate, Singa gets medieval.
I have passed by the Old Kallang Airport site countless times over the years, but all I ever saw from the road was the iconic control tower building. During the Biennale, the entire compound was open, even the buildings which weren’t being used to display art. Although the control tower building was used by the People’s Association until 2009, these other buildings had apparently been left to degenerate for many years and were left as they were for the Biennale. I almost spent more time wandering around the old hangars, workshops and cafeteria in all their fascinating dilapidation than I did in the exhibition galleries.
The hangar was used for Elmgreen & Dragset’s German Barn installation, which was good fun (especially its leather-clad human exhibits), but again, I probably spent 5 minutes looking at the art and 25 minutes enraptured with that roof! Those windows! The light!
I didn’t actually photograph the outside of the control tower building very much, because we all know what that looks like. Inside that building and the others used for displaying art, I was not drawn to their large open spaces but to smaller instances of beauty.
Drain gutter hardware:
And a window pane which seemed a work of art in itself: