Singapore Biennale-Worthy Art Installation In Yishun Dismantled After Town Council Says It’s A Fire Hazard

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Why Yishun Again?

Another day, another Yishun story. The constant stream of bizarre occurrences like grisly murders and cat abuse have made the northern neighbourhood infamous, and even got us thinking of building a wall to keep Yishun out.

We’ve scratched our heads but still can’t figure out why everything and anything interesting happens to land in Yishun.

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Not too long ago, Yishun Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah was triggered into action, claiming the ceaseless ridicule and flak aimed at her neighbourhood aren’t funny.

Sigh. So what happened now?

Art Tower

An artistic tower of ornament, figurines, psychedelic toys and plushies was taken apart after Nee Soon Town Council claimed it was a fire hazard.

Mr Louis Ng, the chairman of the town council, mentioned it received “feedback” regarding the placement of items at the senior citizens’ corner in Block 108, Yishun Ring Road.

Feedback? Don’t you mean a complaint? I mean, that’s what Singaporeans do best after all.

Photo: Shirley Soh

It’s unfortunate how a single complaint resulted in the dismantling of a beautiful installation, just like how complaining got innocent Sin Ming chickens killed.

Elderly ‘Artist’

Mr Or Beng Kooi, 75, more affectionately known by residents as Ah Pek, is the man behind the stunning piece of work that some described as “an art installation worthy of a place in the Singapore Biennale”, according to The Straits Times — and that is high praise indeed.

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Mr Or collected old items like religious statues and stickers from residents in the area and allowed his artistic inclinations to take over in an attempt to glamorise the mundane void deck that he spends most of his time in with fellow retirees.

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He managed to salvage some artefacts despite discarding over 200 items from his tower, and helps to maintain them.

Just check out this peculiar scene — the Laughing Buddha savouring a cigarette and the company of whimsical fairies.

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While bizarre, his works of art definitely intrigue and could potentially be thought-provoking for those who are willing to scratch beneath the surface.

Here’s a video where he speaks to The Straits Times:

Mixed Reactions

Netizens had mixed responses to this episode, with some praising Mr Or for his efforts and others describing it as mere hoarding.

The Good

Speaking to The Straits Times, Ms Shirley Soh, an artist who was part of the 2013 Singapore Biennale, praised Mr Or for having an eye in the way the items were selected and placed. “There was thought to it, I was very impressed,” she said.

She added: “It reflected a kitsch pop culture, featuring things that people bought, therefore making it part of the material culture in Singapore.”

Another netizen felt this was a prime example of how the arts aren’t well appreciated in Singapore.

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5 residents who spoke to ST said “the installation had not been in anyone’s way”.

The Bad

Alas, not everyone embraced Mr Or’s actions.

An unimpressed netizen hit back at one one user after he went as far as to say Mr Or’s items were junk and not art:

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Another user made a sweeping statement that all elderly folk are hoarders. His response did not sit well with others, for obvious reasons.

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What A Waste

Perhaps the authorities were right that Mr Or’s artistic tower was a fire hazard. But more time could be given for him to relocate his installation to a private space instead of discarding the items so hastily.

It is a real pity to see the efforts of Mr Or to liven the void deck go down the drain.

But make no mistake about it, Yishun can be a great neighbourhood too.  

Just that this time, as every so often, Yishun is in the headlines for the wrong reason.

Featured Image from Youtube

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