East of Suez
‘East Of Suez’ is a site-specific work executed in a terrace house within a British colony-built estate – Chip Bee Gardens in Holland Village, Singapore. Chip Bee housed family members of British forces assigned to the decolonisation process and the estate has hidden military defense capabilities. The title of the work: East Of Suez, is a British military/political term used to describe the empire's lost of their eastern dominance.
Walls of 2 rooms were ground and the dust collected for material that dates back to that period when Chip Bee was built (around 1965). The dust was then cast into British colony military medals issued in Singapore matching that period (approximately 1964-66), replicated from an actual medal that was purchased from an antique store. 34 medals (number of men in a platoon of British Infantry force before and after WWII) were cast and installed in the room where the dust was collected.
In many ways, Chip Bee witnessed the twilight of the British Empire which was also ironically called 'the empire of which the sun never sets'. Dust collected from grinding these walls, besides the medals, were placed below the medals in piles and others centralised in space. Time in the form of dust; dust into medals of honour that will turn to dust again some years later. Honour, borders, empires, shifts and changes - all fleeting much like the dust on the floor that will be kicked and destroyed by visitors throughout the show. Completing the process, during reinstatement of the rooms, dust on floor was mixed into the plaster to smoothen the wall & painted over...
History's effect on us and the lessons it brings.
Curator: Alan Oei, Berny Tan
Material: Paint dust, bonding agent, fishing line, jewellery accessories, metal rod, adhesive putty
Dimension: 3 x 4 x 3.5M (Installation - room 1 & 2); 3 x 12 x 0.5 CM (medal)
Exhibited: OH! Holland Village, 52 Jalan Kelabu Asap (Singapore)
Installation view - room 2
Installation view -room 1
Grinding of walls in unit
Original medal purchased from antique store and used as master for moulding