This past weekend, I headed over to check out 11mosque, a little art exhibition with 11 Singaporean artists producing a piece of art each based on (you guessed it) 11 mosques in Singapore.
It’s perhaps a little bit hypocritical perhaps how I love visiting religious buildings when I’m overseas – The Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi was pretty incredible, as was the Moorish-inspired architecture in Andalucia, Southern Spain, but when it comes to similar places in my own Singapore, I am sadly bereft of such knowledge, hence here is one of the many steps I’m taking to learn more about Singapore.
It’s a pretty small exhibition since it’s just 11 artworks (12 actually, they had a closing artwork so it’s really 12mosque instead of 11mosque). I attended the opening day where all the artists were present and got to hear from most of them about the rationale behind their art, and some history on the mosques picked. Most of the artists were Muslims themselves and had a very personal relationship with the mosques that they chose, that really showed through in the work that produced.
One thing I wished the exhibition had more of was some pictures/information about the mosques – or perhaps the intent is to make you want to check out the mosques for yourself, so I picked out some of my favourite works and did a little googling. I suggest popping down to see the exhibition for yourself because some of these works are quite tactile and pictures don’t do them justice!
This work is called ‘Memories’, which is what that Arabic word translates to, and reflects the memories of the artist Inkten Sufina of her childhood spent in the mosque – her mother would conduct her prayers while she did her homework in there. See the silhouette and the Islamic patterns reflected in her work?
I love intricate paper work of any sorts, and Haziq of Visual Inconsideration‘s work really impressed me! He says he took 2 days to hand cut this piece, and that he actually stumbled upon the mosque fairly recently while looking for a place to conduct his daily prayers.
Farhana Jaafar‘s work was quite unusual as it was the only sculpture out of the lot, and approaching the work from the front, it’s kinda creepy cause you can’t really tell that it’s a hand! She said she was inspired from a lesson at the Madrasah from her teacher, who said that when water was scarce, one could use the dust from the buildings for ritual cleansing before prayers instead, which is an idea that resonated in her head and what she managed to portray quite well in this particular sculpture.
Ryan Len was the only non-Muslim designer of the lot, so while he didn’t have a personal story to share of his own experience with the Malabar Muslim Jama-ath mosque, I think his blue screenprint and gold foil domes paid pretty good homage to this mosque – I’ve passed it several times but never thought to venture in. This mosque is the only Malabar Muslim mosque in Singapore, originating from Kerala, India.
This work by Izziyana Suhaimi is one that deserves to be looked at up close – what I thought were sprinkles of paint turned out to be painstakingly hand-embroided! Seriously, this is pretty amazing stuff. It’s a more abstract piece based on Izziyana’s feelings and memories about going to the mosque, and the way crowds congregate and scatter around the mosque.
There are other amazing works on display as well, but I don’t want to spoil you completely – you should pop by the National Library if you’re in the area as they usually have some pretty cool Singaporean related exhibitions going on at any time, so you can get a different aspect of Singaporean culture instead of all the tourist attractions. (For instance, Campaign City about Singapore’s history with all its different campaigns was also happening, I’ll talk more about that in another post!)
11mosque will be on display at the Central Lending Library – if that sounds pretty foreign to you, that’s basically Basement 1 of the National Library Building at Bras Basah Road. The exhibition is along 2 walls on the left side of the entrance and only till 25th July, so hurry and catch it! Meanwhile check out their website 11mosque.visualinconsideration.com for more!