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Art for the Family: Reviewing ‘Imaginarium’ Kids’ Exhibition at Singapore Art Museum

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Last weekend my family and I attended the media preview of Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas at Singapore Art Museum at 8Q on the invitation of the museum and CRIB, an incubator that aims to empower women, especially mothers, to become successful entrepreneurs.

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Imaginarium is SAM’s fifth annual contemporary art exhibition for children and features works by artists from Singapore and the region, all who were in attendance on this particular afternoon. While the museum proclaims that the “exhibition as a whole has been curated with careful attention to how children learn and play, and to appeal to different senses, modes of learning, and exploration,” several artists’ works are much more successful in achieving those goals than others.

Kumkum Fernando_Kiko's Secrets - 2015 - 2

The works that encourage adventure, discovery, and new possibilities (repeated play) were: “We Built This Estate” by Chiang Yu Xiang, an installation that invites museum-goers to create their own housing estates from Tetris-inspired blocks; “Let’s Make! Studio” by Izziyana Suhaimi, a craft workspace in which children and their caregivers can explore the fiber arts (embroidery, weaving, etc.) and hand-make small objects to display on the walls in the space, thus creating a “tapestry”; and “Kiko’s Secrets” by Kumkum Fernando, an installation comprised of three giant boxes which each offer unique sensory experiences around a different theme (the woods, the city, the sky). These were the works that my 3-year-old child was completely fascinated or absorbed by as well.

Jeeyoung Lee_Dream House_2015-1

Less successful were, for example, Vincent Twardzik’s “Green II: Interstellar Overdrive”, an installation in which bicycles are used to power musical instruments and visual elements, and Jeeyoung Lee’s “Dream House”, a fairytale-like gingerbread house filled with candy which children can pick and “plant” in an eerie, minimalist “garden.” These works were, no doubt, aesthetically arresting, but not as play-full or dynamic as the others.

So, was it worth it? Once, at least! The exhibition offers only a few opportunities for sustained and repeated engagement, and is most ideal for 3- to 6-year-olds.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas will run until 19 July 2015.

Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555, Tel: (+65) 6589 9580, www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

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