Mighty Tiny Singapore

Photographs courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

When a man-made world develops from third to first in 50 years—when most civilizations would take triple that span of time—there is much to be celebrated of the marvel that is Singapore.

With international festivals and exhibitions of art, design, music and architecture occurring throughout the year-long summer along with establishing Asia’s latest contemporary art destination, Gillman Barracks, and the opening of the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris and the upcoming National Gallery Singapore, Asia’s emerging creatives are ripe for the picking in the renaissance city-state. It is perhaps fitting that the young nation is taking a band of its creative talents on the road.

Ejected from Malaysia and left to carve her own way without much in the way of national resources, the bitty nation The U Press calls home was never destined for big things, but somehow, we managed to come out well. (Look, ma, we’re in New York!)

mighty tiny singapore inside out

Much has been said of Singapore’s leap from third world to first, equally lauded and derided as an efficient, nanny state. Straight-laced is commonly used to describe the country, though I must tell you that buttoning up is hardly common here (tropical climate—need I say more?). It’s hard to sum up any nation in pithy words. Which is a good reason why Singapore is going on the road to celebrate her golden jubilee this year—taking its merry band of creative protagonists to show the world what she’s all about.

Covering disciplines as wide-ranging as architecture, design, fashion, film, food, music, and literary, performing and visual art, Singapore: Inside Out is a traveling showcase that reaches New York City in September, after earlier stints in Beijing and London.

Treat it not as art, but as a jaunt halfway across the world and you might go away with some important insights. Like—does candy belong on plates? Edible delights dangle off every surface at chef and artist Janice Wong’s playful installation 1000 Crosses, an invitation to lick the walls for a taste of Singapore’s diverse heritage in wacky, locally-inspired flavours such as palm sugar, chilli, kaffir lime and even barbecued pork.

Equally inviting is Bank of Kinetic, a cabinet of curiosities and repository of works from 50 creative studios in Singapore ranging from memorabilia modelled after playground designs to looping animations of beckoning fingers and walking eyeballs. Aren’t we a wacky bunch?

Read more in The U Press N˚1 (New York edition).