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OH! Open House 2011
by Open House
Location: Marine Parade community Club, 278 Marine Parade Road, Singapore
Date: 8 Jan - 16 Jan 2011

For two weekends, Marine Parade will be transformed into a museum that’s literally all over the place.

Last year’s first edition of OH! (Open House) brought 700 visitors on house-hopping tours through 6 pre-war, shophouse homes at Niven Road that had been filled with art by more than 20 artists.

In its second year, OH! is an art walkabout through the Marine Parade heartlands. Visitors will explore the neighbourhood, and discover insider secrets like the Bridge of Love, dolphin sightings and earthquakes. Along the way, they get to enter 6 flats transformed into art exhibition spaces.

While organisers literally had to go knocking on their neighbours’ doors to take part in the first edition, they have had no such problems this time round. Even though up to a thousand strangers will traipse through their doorways, many friends and strangers have come up to OH! to offer their homes.

The first house to sign up belonged to one of OH!’s volunteer guides from last year. Newly married, she declined to be named. Organiser and curator Alan Oei said, “Clearly, they didn’t lead a typical heartland life. Their flat was full of artworks too big for their walls. I was struggling with how to work with such a dominant presence. Ironically, I realized the solution was not to touch anything at all.”

Instead, he invited Zhao Renhui, Young Artist Award winner, to recreate a fictional narrative about the houseowners. Zhao explored the house multiple times but was never allowed to actually meet the owners. This, Oei says, is one of the central themes for OH! : “to re-imagine the lives and stories in each space.”

Oei believes OH! is important because Singaporeans should take creative ownership over the spaces we live in. He says that , “Neighbourhoods in Singapore tend to be faceless and neighbours don’t talk. Marine Parade, on the other hand, has a little more kampung spirit and the people here are all quite proud to say they live here. That’s why OH! was drawn to Marine Parade.”

Altogether, Oei and his fellow curators, Lim Qinyi and Wang Zineng, will be joined by some 10 other artists
Some of the other highlight works include:
• Jes Brinch - literally turn one of the owner’s rooms upside down
• Yen Lin Teng - an anamorphic drawing installation at a HDB lift landing where the images come to life only from certain angles.
• Natalie Hennidige - working with the local residents to create and present stories of Marine Parade

Marine Parade has always been an interesting and distinctive neighbourhood, and OH! is a great way for people from all over the island to experience it through an art trail. Organisers and house-owners have plans to give away home-baked cupcakes to to welcome visitors to Marine Parade.

QUICK FACTS & NUMBERS
• No. of flats: 6 (1 married couple and 5 single women)
• No. of artists: >10
• Young Artist Awards (NAC): Michael Lee, Natalie Hennidige, Zhao Renhui
• Mediums: drawing, painting, performance, photography, installation, sound, text
• No. of tickets available: 200 per day, total 800

TIDBITS ABOUT MARINE PARADE
• Formed in 1976, it comprises 58 blocks of HDB flats on reclaimed land, which is one theory why residents here are often the first to feel any ‘earthquakes’ or tremors from regional natural forces. Things get so scary they sometimes run out of the blocks.
• In the 1970s, there were carwashing rackets that would scratch your car if you did not pay them to wash yours. In a triumphant kampung spirit, all the neighbours in Blk 43 came down together to wash their cars. From then on, they were left alone.
• Residents here are often first • It has 3 very popular Primary schools (Tao Nan, Ngee Ann and CHIJ Katong) leading many young couples to move here.
• The sea-view and proximity to East Coast Park also help make this one of the most expensive and attractive HDB estates.

SELECTED ARTIST BIOS
Michael Lee (b. 1972, Singapore) received his Master and Bachelor of Communication Studies from Nanyang Technological University in 2001 and 1997 respectively. He is an artist and curator based in Singapore. His research addresses representations of the built environment, especially the contexts and implications of its lost elements. His observations are mainly transformed into objects, diagrams, situations, curations or essays.His exhibition/festival participations include The 8th Shanghai Biennale 2010 (Shanghai Art Museum), The 3rd Guangzhou Triennial 2008 (Independent Projects section; Guangdong Museum of Art), The 2005World Exposition (Singapore Pavilion; Nagoya) and International Film & Video Association Film Award & Festival 1997 (Winner, Experimental Category; Texas).

Zhao Renhui was awarded The Young Artist Award (Singapore) in 2010. He is currently a recipient of the Graduate Scholarship Program from The University of the Arts London (UAL) and holds a Bachelors Degree in Photography with a First Class Hounours from Camberwell College of Arts (London). He is also a recipient of the NAC Overseas Arts Bursary for his studies (2007/2010). He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including London, Ireland, Korea. His photography work has received numerous awards and recognition both locally and internationally, including The United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Award (2009), Sony World Photography Awards at Cannes (Conceptual & Constructed Winner), as well as honorable mentions in Photo Levallois (France, 2008), Prix, the Sotiri International Prize for Emerging Photographers and the Singapore International Photography Festival’s Emerging Artist Award (2008).

Featuring artists Clare Marie Ryan, Ves Brinch, John Low, Lynn Lu, Marc Loh, Mark Wong, Michael Lee, Teng Yen Lin, Terence Lin, Zhao Renhai and more.
Curated by Alan Oei, Qinyi Lin and Zineng Wang.

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