Friday, 21 April 2017

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Valerie Kwok

Note: Diary of an NUS Museum Intern is a series of blog posts written by our interns about their experiences during the course of their internships. Working alongside their mentors, our interns have waded through tons of historical research, assisted in curatorial work, pitched in during exhibition installations and organised outreach events! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information! 


Valerie is currently a JC1 student at Temasek Junior college. She joined the NUS Museum for three weeks as part of Temasek Junior College’s Work Attachment Programme. Valerie was attached to the Museum Outreach team during her time here where she assisted in various administrative works for the museum’s programmes. She will share with us more about her time here in NUS Museum and her experience in a programme she was involved in.

There are too many episodes of people coming here...

This exhibition, unlike the rest, has no theme, which ironically makes that the theme of the exhibition. It builds on previous exhibitions, and the curatorial idea is to try to form connections with each changing exhibitions from the past, albeit completely different in theme. It essentially just collects a certain artwork from a previous exhibition and then put them all together. This exhibition aims to get the visitors to make their own connections and interpretation, to stimulate their minds and thoughts. It has different themes, ranging from traditional art pieces, to contemporary works of artists.

As seen from the picture below, the exhibition has a very flat design, and from what I learnt from Michelle, it was intended so people can ‘bounce about exhibits easily in no particular order’ to corroborate with the theme. To add on, many of these exhibits have little to no description of what they are, and this is so that the visitors can interpret the artwork themselves.

Personally till now, my interpretation of this exhibition, is to show how art is malleable and ductile, it can come in so many different forms through so many time periods, yet, no matter how stark the difference, still belongs to one entity, - Art. From shadow puppets to a technological device, one may feel like there is absolutely no connection between them, whilst forgetting that these pieces are both hung on the wall, for the viewers to appreciate. Yes, the differences are more obvious, but their one similarity outweighs all their differences combined. Whilst typing this, I find that this can actually be drawn parallel to the entity known as the human race, where by throughout the times and space and races, etc, where we wage wars over our differences, we forget that  we are still the human entity, connected in one way or another, and yes perhaps we haven’t really made the connection yet or maybe we already have, but choose to hide it because we simply cannot accept the fact that our one big similarity outweighs whatever differences we have, but it is there, and it is real.

* * * *

  The opening of Radio Malaya on the 17th of January, was by far the busiest day of the WOW internship so far. We had so many things to do throughout the course of the entire day to prepare for the grand opening of the Radio Malaya: Abridged Conversations about Art. We were tasked with assisting Amanda Heng’s performance of ‘Let’s Chat’, where by it is a set-up with a table and 4kg worth of bean sprouts with tea, where visitors of the museum will sit there as and when they want to talk to her, all while drinking Chinese tea. For the TJC interns, we were tasked to wash the teacups as soon as one guest leaves, boil water, and making tea, ensuring that her performance was perfect.

As we were there the whole of the day we participated in the performance for a period of time, and it was rather interesting, plucking beansprouts in a museum. We sat with Amanda Heng, and another painter friend of hers and a NUS student who came.

I found out that the artists in the 1950s were considered outcasts due to many governmental controls and societal conforms. Amanda Heng was telling us about how many artists, including herself, run a risk of danger of going to jail for making pieces frowned upon by the government.

It made me realize that there was a thin, fine line for artists to hover around, one wrong move and they could land right in jail.  More often than not, what artists believe and stand for normally cross that line, and they always find ways and means of toning it down, some successful, while some go to jail.

It was a really eye-opening experience to be here at Radio Malaya’s opening and I think I learnt a lot from today’s experience.

All in all, this internship has really opened my eyes to a world I never thought existed and I am so grateful to be given this opportunity to do so.

1 comment:

  1. I have been reading a lot of stuff about it. but it is different presented, i loved to read this. keep it up.

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