Thursday, May 31, 2012

Episode 1347: Lim Tzay-Chuen's Mike - A Wasted Opportunity?

I've accepted that I most likely won't write anything new for my dissertation until I get back to Warwick. However, I have been reading articles today, and the more I read, the more I'm convinced that my thesis makes sense. I think I might've even found a book that helps to support my idea of the Merlion as a liminal figure. Having read the essays in the exhibition catalogue for Lim Tzay-Chuen's Mike, I find it incredibly difficult not to see that as a huge missed opportunity to imbue the Merlion with renewed, reimagined significance for Singaporeans (as opposed to tourists). Lim's arguments in favour of temporarily relocating the Merlion for the 2005 Venice Biennale are compelling, and I can't help but think that the reason he was turned down was because some petty bureaucrat did a cost-benefit analysis and decided that there would be no tangible economic benefits reaped from the relocation, focusing instead on the very real costs of the relocation and the potential adverse impact on the tourist dollar of one of the city-state's iconic photography spots disappearing. What I also find curious is that the Merlion poems in the anthology don't draw on this incident for inspiration, not even among the newer poems, despite making reference to a 2009 incident when the Merlion was struck by lightning and damaged. Perhaps the failure of Lim's proposal to be realised has made it seem less of a commentary on the Merlion, in comparison to something as graphically tangible as being struck by lightning? Or perhaps Lim's artwork has just slipped off the radar. I must confess that I wouldn't have heard of it either, had I not been trawling the Internet for all manner of Merlion-related material. All in all, it seems like a wasted chance, in a way oddly representative of short-sighted bureaucratic thinking.

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