Going Through The Motions Of A Takeover - Multiply: A Majestic Playground

Going Through The Motions Of A Takeover
- Multiply: A Majestic Playground

By Carolyn Oei, 31 May 2017

“Many people don’t realise that there’s a rich culture of creativity bubbling under the surface here in Singapore,” said Carolyn Kan, founder of artisan jewellery label, Carrie K., and curator of Multiply: A Majestic Playground (Multiply).

Multiply was an artistic takeover of the New Majestic Hotel for the weekend of 27 and 28 May 2017 before the building is to be transformed into the private members’ club, Straits Clan.

Kan hand-picked the artists, brands and businesses for Multiply intending to create a mix that was diverse enough to show the depth and breadth of creativity we have. It is true that local artists, musicians, designers or producers aren’t always given due credit and recognition for their work. There remains an underlying distrust – and ignorance - of anything locally produced being of a high quality.

“There’s artistry, randomness, some are more commercial and all are releasing their creative child without thinking if it would make money or even sense,” Kan added.

Indeed, Kan put together a comprehensive mix of artists, artisans and craftspeople: some vending their wares, others showcasing their brands and pushing artistic boundaries, and still others having cobbled something together for the weekend.

Apart from the F&B, we don’t know if many commercial transactions were made.

But, it was apparent that not a lot of it made sense.

There was a feeling of messiness that cannot rightly be labelled chaos or discord and there was a lot of randomness.

Visitors were encouraged to participate in the takeover by speaking with the artists and craftspeople who were present, drawing on the walls (and stairs and anywhere else) with marker pens and pasting stickers everywhere. The engagement with artists and vendors was a fabulous opportunity given to visitors; the scribbling and scrawling less so. And even then, some scrawls were better than others. Perhaps it’s a reflection of how some people perceive Singapore to be repressive, so much so that when given a chance, they get a kick out of the permitted vandalism, even if only to say, “So and So was here”.

But where exactly were they?

They were all there.

I think back to two other takeovers that honoured the buildings they were in with their purposeful use of the space they worked in, on and around.

“Out Of Sight” held in 2013 was a multi-disciplinary adieu to the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) before it was razed to the ground to make way for office space. “An Eminent Takeover” in 2014 was a musical and street art hoorah to say bye-bye to “vice haven” Eminent Plaza in Jalan Besar. Although quite different in expression, both these takeovers were similar in how they treated the spaces they were given. Stairwells were used to display photographs, corridors were dressed up to create entrances into imagined worlds and walls were decorated with proclamations of change and history.

There were three participants at Multiply who did work with their space. And they did so extremely well.

Time Taken To Make A Dress had us wondering if they were an installation. The walls of the room were covered in fabric and ruffled paper and there was a lady working on a dressmakers mannequin. After taking some photographs, we just stood in the room and looked at her. Bespoke tailoring, customisation, time, patience…elegantly done.

Lucinda Law’s Within exhibition, too, made good use of its room to introduce its “conservatory of muses”.

By far our favourite was PapyPress’ Paper Carnival in Room 304. Kudos to the artists for the artwork that just looked like painstaking effort. And applause for the shooting gallery in the loft.   

But we couldn’t clap for the top floor. I think the intention was for it to be edgy and experimental, which doesn’t necessarily translate to good poems written by Jedidiah Huang printed on regular printing paper and pasted on a bit of wall in a #KultKollab room that couldn’t articulate its ambition.

The New Majestic Hotel had done its bit for local arts and culture. A space in its lobby had been dedicated to promoting artwork, books and merchandise produced by Singaporeans; the very same lobby that motioned a commonplace festival vibe on its last weekend.

(Cover photo: Bits of Jedidiah Huang's poems. Photos: Marc Nair)


Carrie K.

An Eminent Takeover

Out Of Sight


Time Taken To Make A Dress


Little Bastard (one of the F&B vendors. They make a mean rum bandung and cendol)