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Chinatown In Pieces: The Art Of Memory

On their ‘Samsui, Prostitute and Cigarette’ kerfuffle; Mr. Dunston, Mr. Yip YC and KF Seetoh. Just to say thanks to all - I'm far too dim-witted for this erudite discourse, but it is certainly fascinating. In art, precisely because of its subjectivity, and especially in the hands of great artists communicating to us, we are immersed in an experience of reality we never expected, never knew could exist. Great artists might depict something that reminds us of an old memory, or combine aspects of existence into a higher intensity, or imagine some future combination of elements of reality, but in all cases and others it's like we're supercharged into being in reality like we never would have expected.

Thanks especially to KF Seetoh for all the reading suggestions. Don't know much about history, don't know much biology ...For accuracy’s sake, the Makansutra founder agreed that the cigarette should be removed from the painting but also said that it should be replaced with “anghoon, the affordable roll-up tobacco smokes they are known to puff after a long day of hard work. That’s the truth, it’s accurate and part of our real history. Don’t deny this country its truth. Confront it fearlessly and be proud of who we are,” he added.

I was just pleased, after examining the painting that I was able to identify the strange ‘little animal’ as a weasel, and that I did actually notice that her hand is rather 'bend out of shape' and her ciggy is ‘too avant-garde’. Today an artist is anyone who has a license to practice art (a degree). Whatever that person says is art, is art. Skill of any sort is not required and there's no way to judge the product (if there is one), in any case. The great art of the past always was created and evaluated within a social context. There is no context for art any more, and without a way to say whether it is good or bad, it no longer exists.

Whether art is described as “imitation” or “indefineable” does not detract from the long history of artists who in their work dealt with interpretation and tried to contribute to the understanding of ideas, concepts, realities, conflicts and so on, whether that art is traditional or avant garde or experimental. But I have to point out that the examples of subjective “art” referenced by Mr. Yip YC are just from a ‘white, male Caucasian’ standby from a 500-year period? This is pretty tiny sliver of artists chosen to represent all of art in a piece that otherwise takes the entire universe (including this little Reddot) and all of human history into its scope.

Philosophical questions aside, it's a fascinating painting with a fascinating history. Hogwash, arguing against a materialist examination of human perception and cognition of art objects, with the worn rationale is futile, or the inference it might ruin the 'magic'. It's the investigation that matters not the explanation. If the reverse was true philosophy would be out of business.

Without venturing into the intellectual cat's cradle of dialectic concerning "art", Mr. Dunston, Mr. Yip YC, I just wanted to let you know that your ‘performance’, brought tears to my eyes.

 

Sjorne Shen

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

21 Responses to “Chinatown In Pieces: The Art Of Memory”

  • rice:

    Nice piece of art but maybe her face too “pretty and fair” and her fingers too slender?
    I hsve had encounters wuth samsui ladies.
    They were toughies and even fierce.
    Hsrdworking and hard-strivinh though.

    About the cig.
    Never mine lah thst is not ang-hoon.
    It was a humble “treat” of “555”,not “LUCKY $TRIKE” her bo$$ smoked and became the CITYDEV OR LIM CHANGs???

    Well,i puffed,a few CONSULATE for fun.
    I liked the mentol lah!

    Well,those were our pioneers who slogged for the alien$ to come here and enjoy…
    Like countless of sgs,we all slogged just to try and attain “First World” swiss-standard just so to see it all vanished into thin air and have to rely on CDC vouchers???

    What a SinkingPOOR Dream!
    Actually,what a nightmare…

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  • Observer:

    Today’s China builds advanced megastructures.

    China just built a multi-storey mega pig farm, that flushes pig poop down the sewage pipes.

    Thus, insects, lab-grown-meat and pigs can be bred in multi-storey buildings, without competing with crops and solar panels for land.

    I did not see altars in China’s factories.

    However, prophet Jeremiah would be unhappy if he saw Buddhist-related altars in the industrial parks and flatted factories of the Rules-Based-Order.

    The solution is for MNCs to select Mongoloid Christian suppliers who had endured false accusations on account of GOD. 

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  • dave:

    Lee Kuan Yew had passed away not too long ago. Now there is this white foreign talent brought in by the new government’s policy to do the necessary, to tell him his no smoking policy is not welcomed.

    Also, his effort to keep Singapore clean, without the sleaze of prostitution is fake and Singapore should return to its true self, the hot and exciting place for angmohs to play and abuse the locals through art.

    URA should do the necessary and make Singapore a place of great fun, a place for chewing gum, prostitution, bring back Bugis Street, and be real, like what it is.

    No more ban on smoking in public places. Restaurants, kopitiams, super markets, super malls, bars, etc etc, smoking is allowed.

    This must be the time for a great change, to release all the constraints and rigid laws under the past draconian regime.

    What do you think?

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  • Wonders nad Freaks of Nature:

    Just like defining Midi-chlorians………. kills the magic, mystery and mysticism.

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  • Lawless Lord:

    5Cs too far. 白吃喝嫖赌。 New success.

    dave: This must be the time for a great change, to release all the constraints and rigid laws under the past draconian regime.

    What do you think?

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  • Tenner:

    It’s always the first impression – my first impression of the mural is of a sleazy lady smoking, sitting on a chair, and some dancing lights in the obscure background. To put in my own opinion, the artist must be depicting a prostitute cosplaying as a samsui woman. My subsequent impressions confirm the same.

    The artist might feels that this is art but to some observer, this is a big eyesore. I don’t think removing the cigarette will solve the issue because the whole picture is not fitting.

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  • Flabbergasted:

    But why engage some angmokao trash to paint this piece?

    Don’t we have competent and proven Singaporean artists?

    When can the people in charge snap out of this colonial mentality, angmotuaki and angmo means good?

    WTF?

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  • Dalai Says:

    Flabbergasted:
    But why engage some angmokao trash to paint this piece?

    Don’t we have competent and proven Singaporean artists?

    When can the people in charge snap out of this colonial mentality, angmotuaki and angmo means good?

    WTF?

    I am well-privy to the ‘who’s who’ involved in the project. This ‘Dudster’ shows his impudence by insulting the locals who knows better. I know who give this piece of ‘shit’ that audacity.

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  • Confuscion:

    Confusion says, “When you don’t know, say ‘I know’. People will think you know.”

    Dalai Says: I am well-privy to the ‘who’s who’ involved in the project. This ‘Dudster’ shows his impudence by insulting the locals who knows better. I know who give this piece of ‘shit’ that audacity.

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  • Dalai Says:

    Confuscion:
    Confusion says, “When you don’t know, say ‘I know’. People will think you know.”

    This sound very much like a cat chasing its tail.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    @ Observer

    Yeah.
    Provided the structure also sound.
    All this building with speed = 豆腐渣

    And it still flood like a hundred year ago or a thousand year ago or 10000 years ago.

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  • Dalai Says:

    Latest update from URA:
    Samsui woman mural can remain, but building owner will be fined $2,000 for not getting approval: URA, MOH https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ura-moh-say-mural-of-samsui-woman-smoking-can-stay-but-landlord-will-be-fined-2000

    It jumps out at me like “Shake Hands With the Devil”. Though “objective standards”, can be manipulated for whatever reason. Moral compromise seems to be made every single day, generally speaking. As expected, our leaders lack moral courage for a singular reason, “cowardice”. If I or anyone else fail at this, I hope to call them human, not coward.

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  • Locals:

    Locals hold a white piece of paper – PROTEST.
    Angmos paint a big piece of wall – ART.

    Dalai Says:
    Latest update from URA:
    Samsui woman mural can remain, but building owner will be fined $2,000 for not getting approval: URA, MOH https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ura-moh-say-mural-of-samsui-woman-smoking-can-stay-but-landlord-will-be-fined-2000

    It jumps out at me like “Shake Hands With the Devil”. Though “objective standards”, can be manipulated for whatever reason. Moral compromise seems to be made every single day, generally speaking. As expected, our leaders lack moral courage for a singular reason, “cowardice”. If I or anyone else fail at this, I hope to call them human, not coward.

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  • Dalai Says:

    Locals:
    Locals hold a white piece of paper – PROTEST.
    Angmos paint a big piece of wall – ART.

    Ha ha ha ha ha! And ART? Neanderthals may have thought that we would forever appreciate their painted seashells. So unique, right? We have put them in museums here and there, and back-lanes as well but that’s about it. Art can be the essence of felt meaning in life, or it can be masturbatory. Dunston must have known that for ever.

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  • No steel:

    URA/NEA can’t even stand firm on their own decision.
    No conviction.
    Not sure that painting is an art…maybe our local painter can do a better job and do justice to the hardworking Sansui woman?

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  • Caught:

    That’s a secret supporter of Russia. Look at the colors. White Blue and Red.

    No steel:
    URA/NEAcan’t even stand firm on their own decision.
    No conviction.
    Not sure that painting is an art…maybe our local painter can do a better job and do justice to the hardworking Sansui woman?

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  • Dalai Says:

    Caught:
    That’s a secret supporter of Russia. Look at the colors. White Blue and Red.

    No lah. Our Free Rider will say, it is an Americunt *White Blue and Red* star-pangled flag. Samsui most likely a KGB double-agent. Ah! just recalled one of our Singapore embassy staff was caught in a honey-trap situation in revealing information to a Russian girl spy many years age. Can somebody check?

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  • Nonsense!:

    After a period of back breaking hard work, still could adopt a very elegant posture to sit down down for a smoke to relax?

    Nonsensical!

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  • ClapX:

    Yeah loh.

    Nonsense!:
    After a period of back breaking hard work, still could adopt a very elegant posture to sit down down for a smoke to relax?

    Nonsensical!

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  • Relax:

    Just wondering why must the woman be drawn at the corner?

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  • Dalai Says:

    Relax:
    Just wondering why must the woman be drawn at the corner?

    Art has two faces: On the one hand, to the knowledgeable viewer, a work of art opens a world. On the other hand, and especially the connoisseur of art, Dunston, for example, can make use of his knowledge to earn huge sums of money thus the ‘bangle’ and ‘talisman’ which represent wealth and luck. Art as an object in our consumer society is thus divested of its value as entry to a special world. And yet, both dimensions can co-exist despite the apparent contradictions.

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