Discipline the City



A local poet once eulogised Singapore thus: “They plan. They build. All spaces are gridded, filled with permutations of possibilities. The buildings are in alignment with the roads which meet at desired points ......” The utopia that is Singapore in the new millennium, some five decades after the anxieties of independence, is indeed the result of meticulous centralised planning, founded on an ideal social order and brought about by standardised design and mass production. The Fordist system of post-war economic growth seems to find an analogue in the visual vocabulary of geometric abstraction, the anonymous rationality and regularity of the first dovetailing with the homogeneous, modular formal contours of the second. The work of local artists like Jeremy Sharma and Anthony Poon may perhaps be said to evoke both the structured impersonality of the urban fabric and the circumscribed modes of social life that has for long been associated with post-independence Singapore; the time is ripe for art history to make those connections.


Louis Ho
Louis Ho is a co-curator of the Singapore Biennale 2016, An Atlas of Mirrors, and a curator at the Singapore Art Museum, where his focus is on the art of Malaysia, Myanmar and Brunei. Prior to joining the Singapore Art Museum’s curatorial team, Louis Ho was an independent art historian, critic and curator. He also lectures at the National Institute of Education, and is a contributor to various art publications. He was trained in art history, and his research interests include Southeast Asian visual culture, the intersections between art and the social, and cinema.