Railtrack Songmaps by The Migrant Ecologies Project (Singapore), a feast for the eye and an exhibition that touches souls

Never have I seen another artist who is more enthusiastic and lively in introducing his or her artwork to visitors than Lucy Davis is. I witnessed that again at a recent exhibition, Railtrack Songmaps, presented by the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2016.

I went to check out the exhibition during Art After Dark at Gillman Barracks. It was not only Dark, it was also pouring cats and dogs with lightning and thunder. Wet but not with a dampened mood, I stepped into the gallery.

My very first contact with the wall projections, the chirping and singing, and the nests brightened up my eyes (albeit the dimly-lit setting), as if I had “crossed over”. It was the simple and natural kind of beautiful!

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While I secretly praised myself for insisting to come see this exhibition, I was welcomed by Davis. She, in a bubbly yet no-nonsense manner, demonstrated to me how I could interact with the multimedia part of the artwork and what to look out for. There was so much of information, knowledge, images and moving images, people’s unselfish sharing of personal memories and experiences, and sounds and singing of birds in there!

The “artist” of Railtrack Songmaps is The Migrant Ecologies Project, which was founded in 2010 by Davis as an umbrella for art practice‐led inquiries into questions of culture and nature in Southeast Asia.

I guess it is never about one single artist or an artists’ collective, it involves everyone in our complex ecologies – humans, flora, fauna, urbanism, secret sanctuaries…, and more intriguingly, the labyrinth of their movements and interactions.

Now you see me! Bird-peeping oval "windows"

Now you see me! Bird-peeping oval “windows”

Now you don't!

Now you don’t!

A reason for delaying this write-up was my lack of the right perspective and the right mood to pen it. After stumbling upon Eugène Delacroix’s credo of “The first merit of a painting is to be a feast for the eye”, I found my direction, although Railtrack Songmaps is far from being a painting.

You should see the projections of bird-peeping oval “windows” on the wall, the projections would come and go, so characteristic of the avian members of the ecology. And there were the countless cut-outs of semi-transparent, coloured 2D puppets at the documentation section.

Documentation section at the cosy loft above the gallery. More photos at the end of this post

Documentation section at the cosy loft above the gallery. More photos at the end of this post

Feather Forensics

Feather Forensics

Feather Forensics. A eulogy?

Feather Forensics. A eulogy?

Even the layout of photographs taken for Feather Forensics, another component of the exhibition, somehow told a more powerful story. Also not forgetting the use of handheld slide viewers to look through mini images (mostly of perished birds). That brings me to something I read somewhere recently that I am only able to paraphrase it now: people (or collectors or art buyers, I cannot remember) are attracted to artworks that touch their soul, they do not care as much about the “proper” rule-of-thumb of being a “real” connoisseur/collector.

I remember David Tan! I think half of Singapore has his phone number by now, because messages and notices were passing around to ask people to alert him whenever a dead bird was seen anywhere in Singapore

I remember David Tan! I think half of Singapore has his phone number by now, because messages and notices were passing around to ask people to alert him whenever a dead bird was seen anywhere in Singapore

Railtrack Songmaps has closed on 14th February 2016. More photographs below.

Seriously, is it there? Bird-peeping oval "windows"

Seriously, is it there? Bird-peeping oval “windows”

Can you see its shadow? Bird-peeping oval "windows

Can you see its shadow? Bird-peeping oval “windows

How to "rewild" bird puppets into real locations along the (former Malaysian railway) tracks (at Tanglin Halt in Singapore) where the birds have been observed

How to “rewild” bird puppets into real locations along the (former Malaysian railway) tracks (at Tanglin Halt in Singapore) where the birds have been observed

Countless cut-outs by hand

Countless cut-outs by hand

More cut-outs, painstaking labour of passion

More cut-outs, painstaking labour of passion

Who is the real McCoy?

Who is the real McCoy?

Semi-transparent shadow puppets

Semi-transparent shadow puppets

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Showing gratitude

Showing gratitude

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