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October 17, 2008

Singapore Biennale: Sugar Sculpture Short On Sweetness

Singapore Biennale: Sugar Sculpture Short On Sweetness

This five-foot high sculpture made with strong doses of sugar and sweetness looked sublime on paper. The sweet images shown in the publicity booklet featured a regal looking temple with fine construction inspired by architecture from Myanmar.

Photograph: September Sweetness at Singapore Biennale South Beach Development

The made-of-sugar installation September Sweetness is a life-sized Burmese pagoda constructed from a special sugar-based compound. This sculpture is a collaborative work of art by artists Rich Streitmatter-Tran, Chaw Ei Thein and Aung Ko. They designed and built this exquisite exhibit for the Singapore Biennale to highlight recent events that occurred last year.

The use of sugar as a building material was a deliberate choice. On exposure to the rain and shine in an open-air corner of the South Beach Development, their sculpture will “deteriorate…melt and spill… crack and fall … ants will dismantle … granule by granule”.

I would describe their satire with a hokkien phrase, “ho kua bo ho jia”. Roughly translated from dialect into English: “good to see, not good to eat”.

As expected, after so many days under the elements, this sugar sculpture appeared short on visual sweetness. At a forsaken corner of South Beach Development the exhibit looked different from its publicity material.

Firstly this was the first exhibit I’ve seen that carried a verbal warning from the ticketing officer. She had genuine concern in her voice when she warned about the smell and the bees at the exhibit.

Secondly, this exhibit that greeted me at South Beach Development was not in the best shape for gallery viewing. Crumbling parts were visible, marked by moderate discoloration. Ants, dead or alive, were scattered around the open space near the exhibit. Fortunately the bees stayed away during my visit.

I would have added a third reason, for the aromatic fragrance, but fortunately my stuffy nose saved me.

Catch the Singapore Biennale before it ends on 16 November 2008.

Read posts on Singapore Biennale in Seen This Scene That.

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Casdok said...

I cant begin to imagine what it must have smelt like!

Jinghui said...

An exhibition that I haven't visited yet !

Saw this on television and was keen to see it myself !


Seen This Scene That said...

Hi jing hui, go visit early before the art piece melts away...

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