Post-PopUp at CCA
Block 38, Studio #01-07
Malan Road, Gillman Barracks
Singapore 109441

This session features 3 presentations on “Official” Heritage. Dr Wong Chee Meng will speak on Official Heritage and Beyond: Singapore as Garden City vs Singapore as Kampong; Gözde Zehnder will speak about 3 documentary series she has produced; and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow will reflect on her recent exhibition “Balik Pulau”.

Official Heritage and Beyond: Singapore as Garden City versus Singapore as Kampong

The rapid urban development in Singapore under a neoliberal economy has led to the sacrificing or compromising of many cultural and natural heritage sites. Among them is the Bukit Brown Cemetery, where exhumation has begun for the construction of a highway and future housing, while heritage activists continue to argue for its importance as the resting place of many pioneers and as an outstanding showcase of tomb designs with great aesthetic and historical values, not to mention its function as a green lung for the dense urban environment. Meanwhile the state has embarked on a nomination of the Singapore Botanic Gardens as world heritage site, for being a unique exemplar of a tropical botanic garden during British colonial history, and for its continuing role in the economic development of Singapore as a Garden City or City in a Garden. It will be argued here that such contestation of heritages is significant not only as Singapore’s search for a national identity but also in terms of the values that the society may accord to its cultural and natural heritage sites. The question remains: where do we go from here?

Wong Chee Meng obtained his PhD in heritage studies last year (2013) from the Brandenburg Technological University Cottbus in Germany, with a thesis on the use of intangible heritage as a medium for intercultural dialogue in Singapore as a multi-ethnic society. Since January 2014, he has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the NTU School of Humanities and Social Sciences, under the research cluster of Literary and Cultural Studies, where he is researching on theatre, dance and film as articulation of cultural identity, values and ideology.

Gözde Zehnder will speak about 3 documentary series she produced. Listen To Our Walls (2009) is a project on iconic buildings of Singapore designed by renowned architects which explores the “history and stories of Singapore through architectural trends and styles and through the stories of living voices who occupied the iconic buildings”. Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes (2012) is a collaborative project with National Museum of Singapore that explores the experience of food consumption during the Japanese Occupation, through oral recordings and photographs from the archives, and interviews with historians and individuals who lived during the turbulent period. The Big Picture takes the viewer on a journey of nearly five decades of Singapore art and post-independence history, discovering artworks that reflect the changing social, cultural and political landscape in Singapore.

Gözde Zehnder (b. Istanbul) is Director and Executive Producer of freestate productions since its founding in 2000. She graduated with a BA degree in Film & Video production from Edith Cowan University, Australia, and has won multiple awards for her films. Since 1997, she has directed experimental short films that screens in film festivals worldwide, and since 2007, her focus has been on documentary work mostly related to history, art, architecture and heritage. In 2011, she began producing and directing short documentaries about history of art in Singapore and in South East Asia for the upcoming National Gallery Singapore.

Balik “Balik Pulau”: Reflections on a recent history exhibition

The National Museum recently held an exhibition “Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore’s Islands”, which presented an account of the social, cultural and natural histories of Singapore’s offshore islands. In this presentation, exhibition co-curator Yu-Mei Balasingamchow will reflect on the experience of developing this exhibition, discuss some of the absences and omissions from the narrative, and highlight some of the challenges of working in the field of public history in Singapore.

Yu-Mei Balasingamchow is a writer and curator. She is the co-author of Singapore: A Biography (2009), and her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014. She recently curated the exhibitions “50 Years of Television” and “Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore’s Islands” for the National Museum of Singapore. She is currently working on a commissioned history of Singapore’s Capitol Theatre, as well as new permanent exhibitions for the National Museum of Singapore. Her website is

The project More than [show] business – Post-PopUp at CCA is a collaborative effort between Post-Museum and CCA, led by curators Anca Rujoiu and Vera Mey, with the additional support of the National Arts Council (NAC).

[Image from Eat to Live]