prep-room | things that may or may not happen
Date: July 2011 - February 2012
Venue: NUS Museum
Conceived as a site for the exploration of curatorial methods in the lead up to various upcoming projects at the Museum, the prep-room is a fluid, temporary and dialogic space which invites audiences to encounter and measure the propositional aspects of exhibition making and bring their own perspectives to bear on its inquiry. Predicated on heuristic principles and deploying the “archival” as a fertile site for inspection, the prep-room is encountered best as a multicentric process. Inquiry occurs at the moment when the perceptual, autobiographical, cultural, interdisciplinary, and institutional converge into a contradictory assemblage whereby a comprehensive understanding of museums, its workers and their artifacts in contemporary cultural life is made possible.
For its inaugural project, we will be plotting out various archival schematics for a project which has been tentatively titled "Raffles Light".
Raffles Lighthouse, built on Pulau Satumu (also known as Coney Island) was the second lighthouse to be built in the Singapore Straits after the establishment of the Horsburgh Lighthouse in 1854. Since its establishment in December 1855, it has not only functioned as the southernmost marker of Singapore’s territorial waters but has also become a site of varied significance to its diverse audiences. Ranging from the East India Company’s rationale for the installation of a lighthouse to its leisure-seekers, marine biologists, lighthouse keepers, treasure hunters, to those who had near death experiences along the ‘notorious’ waters adjacent to the Singapore Straits. The little island and this gallery, as it remains constructed, mirrors (albeit, imperfectly) these archival traces, as voices marked under the larger historical shifts ‘Singapore’ has undergone from colony to nation.
As the prep room is an evolving project with materials and voices being added constantly, the archival traces have been clustered into seven broad groupings with accompanying source information and annotations: Myth, Reality, Keepers, Life/Death, Leisure, Scientific Surveys, Maps and Artifacts. Containing materials ranging from 15th century cartographic maps to 19th century declarations by the Government of the Straits Settlements to establish the Raffles Lighthouse, to numerous visual traces amassed from the public archives to illustrate both the volume and complexity of materials about the 'Raffles Lighthouse' which may now be opened to a series of multidisciplinary projects.