Curating Nation | A Cord of Rail History – an exhibit for the 2012 Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale by Dr. Lai Chee Kien

Orient Express to Bangkok at the arrival platform at Tanjong Pagar railway station. 
Image courtesy of Dr. Lai Chee Kien

Date: 8 May 2012, Tuesday
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: NUS Museum
Admission is free. To register email: or call 6516 8817 / 8429

In 2011, Singaporeans witnessed the closure of the historic Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as well as train services that used to run on a north-south line almost “cutting” the island in two. From July last year, trains started from the northernmost point of Woodlands instead of in the south, and marked the end of a century-old legacy that had seen the country endure the colonial era to the post-Independence period and early industrialization. The line, like a cord that connected physically and historically with northern neighbours Malaysia, was the subject of an exhibit for the third Hong Kong-Shenzhen Biennale from 15 February to 23 April of this year. The curatorial team, comprising Mr. Tan Kay Ngee, Dr. Lai Chee Kien and Ms. Yap Mong-Lin, was joined by photographer Darren Soh who documented the last train journeys visually. This talk discusses the various aspects of how this exhibit came into being.
About the Speaker
Dr. Lai Chee Kien is Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore.  He graduated with an M.Arch. by research from NUS in 1996, and from University of California, Berkeley with a PhD in History of Architecture and Urban Design, in 2005.  He researches on histories of art, architecture, landscapes and urban environments in Southeast Asia, and is a registered architect in Singapore.  His publications include A Brief History of Malayan Art (1999), Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, 1957-1966 (2007) and Cords to Histories (forthcoming).

Click for event video


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