September 4th, 2006

krazy koati

There must have been a lot of magic when the world was born

And not to belabor a point, but this Biennale arts festival looks set to provide me with material for maybe seven or eight columns a week through to November. Saturday morning three hundred people got together, donned T-shirts featuring a computer-type smiley face on a red backdrop, to circle around City Hall and attempt to levitate the 77-year-old structure using the concentration of mental power alone. Organizer David Malone -- who's from New Zealand, which seems somehow relevant -- said the project was inspired by the 1967 effort of Vietnam War Protesters to levitate the Pentagon, which you may recall had limited success in making any particular change in the Pentagon's position. And, as it happens, this attempt didn't levitate the building either. Malone explained the aim was ``to examine the role of art in relation to belief and the current state of the world.'' Participants said it wasn't the results that mattered so much as the experience of trying, which is a commendable attitude for whimsical public performances, but one to discourage in emergency medical technicians.

Along Orchard Road, someone had all the trees wrapped, up to about the second or third storey, with red sheets dotted with white circles, and to have several large white-dotted red balls hung from the branches. I'd suspect Harvey Comics's Little Dot, except of course she was into polka dots, which these were not. It may be the OCBC bank, which had banners nearby and has a compatible color scheme.

Outside the MRT station there was another artist performing. He had set himself on a pedestal, painted his body silver, strapped on angel costume-type wings -- painted silver -- which had fallen against his back, wore a silver-painted tunic around his waist, and posed as a slowly-moving statue. The crowd stood no closer than two and a half meters away, for a measure of Singaporean comfort with oddness. I'd have taken a picture, but the setup seemed pretty clear that one should make a donation before taking pictures, and the one woman I saw making a donation he -- creepily slowly -- turned to and insisted on hand-shaking, which went a bit past my comfort threshold.

I can't wait to see what happens when things get really weird.

Trivia: The Union Pacific Railroad published a newspaper on its transcontinental railroad, the Trans-Continental, at least in May 1870. Source: The Railway Journey, Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Currently Reading: War for the Union, 1864-1865: The Organized War to Victory, Allan Nevins.