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The Singapore Art Museum wants photos of women’s bums for an art project

Artist Amanda Heng’s Singirl Online Project, part of SAM’s Wikicliki exhibition, uses bottoms as “a playful and defiant counterpoint” to the often “demure and smiling” image of the Singapore Girl.

The Singapore Art Museum wants photos of women’s bums for an art project

A screengrab of the Singirl website, the online component of Amanda Heng’s work. That's a virtual curtain – you'll have declare you're 18 to have a peek. (Photo: singirl.online)

Singaporean artist Amanda Heng wants to get to the, ahem, bottom of female beauty standards in Singapore through a project collaboration with the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), which is part of the Wikicliki exhibition.

Recent posts on SAM’s Facebook and Instagram accounts called for female “butticipation” in Heng’s the Singirl Online Project. In the posts, which included a photo montage of women’s bottoms, women of “all shapes and shades” were invited to participate in Heng’s project, which uses bottoms as “a playful and defiant counterpoint to the Singapore Girl”.

According to the project’s website, the long-running work, which began in 2009, is part of the artist’s long-term exploration of the “Singapore Girl” – the iconic image of the Singapore Airlines stewardess in her trademark sarong kebaya, often depicted as “demure and smiling”.

Seventy-year-old Heng’s Singirl Online Project is a mixed media installation that comprises print, a digital screen featuring images from the project, and a photo booth.

In this new iteration for SAM’s Wikicliki exhibition, submissions will be collated on singirl.online and programmed into an animated sequence that resembles a marching contingent in a parade.

SAM told CNA Lifestyle that the project invites women above the age of 18 who are comfortable with the photo-taking activity to register their interest with the gallery sitter. 

Before their photo is taken, participants are required to complete a registration form that confirms their age and consent for the use of the images for the work.

Those who wish to participate will enter a lockable, almost 3m-high photo booth where a camera and a monitor have been set up. The participant – only one is allowed in the booth at a time – is able to control the positioning, previewing and taking of the photo by using a remote control. The camera and monitor are sealed to prevent tampering.

There’s also a female gallery sitter stationed by the booth throughout the exhibition to facilitate the process and to sanitise the booth after each use.

According to SAM, there is an advisory at the entrance of the installation that highlights that the work contains partial nudity, and that viewer discretion and parental guidance is advised.

Wikicliki features six artist-curator pairings and focuses on the question: Can the museum engage artists in a discussion about what it means to collect their works.

Heng, who was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Visual Arts in 2010, spoke about the project in a 2013 interview with SPH Razor TV where she said that the most intriguing part of the project is not just the photos of the bottoms, but the reason behind why people participate in it.

She said that women who participated in the movement became “more aware” and began to raise questions about their “own role as a woman and their position in the society”, as well as the issue of representation.

The Wikicliki exhibition is open from now till Jul 11 at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery, National Gallery Singapore, one of SAM’s satellite gallery spaces this year, as its buildings undergo redevelopment.

Source: CNA/sr

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