In-between space. That’s the curious term artist/designer Ong Kian Peng of creative studio Modular Unit uses to describe his gallery Supernormal, which opened last July at a mixed-use housing development along Kreta Ayer Road. In fact, he’d rather visitors see the venue as a “project space” than label it as a gallery.
Depending on one’s affinity towards the arts, the latter term often connotes anything from pristine white walls to deathly silence and intimidating curators. That might be changing though, with the crop of new art spaces sprouting up across Singapore.
Most are small (Supernormal rings in at just 250 sq ft) and are run by young artists and/or creative types (they’re usually a hybrid of both). More significantly, they’re typically located at unexpected, out-of-the-way nooks, and espouse an unpolished, DIY aesthetic. In short, they’re anything but the industry standard of an art exhibition space; the anti-white cube so to speak.
Take the four-month-old I_S_L_A_N_D_S. Started by art gallery exhibitions executive Pey Chuan Tan with support from skate shop owner Ariff Shariff, it redefines the idea of concept spaces by literally having no walls – the art is displayed within eight window cases in a public corridor on the third floor of the highly retro Peninsula Shopping Centre. Tan says she opted for this atypical format because she wanted to present art in an out-of-the-box context.
“I chose the windows because they look as if they’re situated within an enclosed space, yet it remains a public linkway. It’s great for presenting art to new and non-art audiences – perhaps even regular passers-by, who might then look forward to new exhibitions,” she explains. She says the creative results far outweigh the challenges of displaying art in this format.