Update: The Sungei Road Market has been shut as of August 2017.
Urban Palimpsests: Reading the City is co-presented with Selene Yap in Flaneur Gallery about the Sungei Road Market closure.
It looks to specific aspects of the market including its religious altars and the sale of old, second-hand and redundant goods, analysing them alongside Boey Kim Cheng’s poem, The Planners.
Another reason why I superimpose space and poem is because they are in tandem and in counterpoint. Boey writes “All gaps are plugged with gleaming gold/ The country wears perfect rows of shining teeth”. But the prayer altar in this picture is the gleaming gold that helps plug certain financial gaps- the altar is a metaphorical gold, of hope, not necessarily tangible nor easily measured in SMRT profits, or EZlink card stored value, but rather a spiritual gold, goal, nonetheless, so imagine when the market ceases to exist anymore, the altar becomes an epitaph more than anything else.
One uniqueness of the Sungei Road Market lies in its self-reflexivity: here I am, talking and looking at this old market, with old people selling old things that talk and look at its own old, past.
But instead of living with the status quo, of marveling at a system that is not aleatory, we continuously question the utility of our existing spaces as something to be challenged and conquered: as the poem says, the seas draw back, the skies surrender, a reference to land reclamation and building upwards, now if I may add, the lands submerge even lower, as we dig further and further.