You Are Not A Tourist

You Are Not A Tourist

As part of the Singapore Art Show 2007, Curating Lab presents You Are Not A Tourist, a platform for the public to re-memorise the city, stripping away it’s existing template and one’s personal associations to perceive it through new eyes. A series of “tours” conceptualised by artists, Kai Syng Tan and Tang Ling Nah, filmmaker, Charles Lim, and architect, Vince Ong, the guided walks encourage participants to re-think the uniqueness of our city or at the very least, a light workout through the streets of Singapore.

Fancying a little urban scavenger hunt, we chose Vince Ong’s The City Remembers at the Raffles City booth, using his pamphlet of unannotated images and a rough sketched map as our guide. Despite the rather unenthusiastic reception we got from the, we assume, volunteer manning the booth, we were armed with cameras (like tourists) and ready to go. Note that I will not be including any images of the walk in this post, and fully encourage you to explore the tour on your own.

You Are Not A Tourist

The introduction on the pamphlet read: “follow the images, find your own path when you are lost. there is no definite destination.” The walk began at the old Capitol Theatre and the alleyways and back lanes that transversed it. Using the images as markers we quickly found ourselves exploring beyond what was prescribed as Ong had undoubtedly intended, peeking into the box office of the theatre, breathing in musty smells, making out rickety cinema seats through the darkness which hadn’t had a bum in them for years. Every open door was an invitation for exploration and at one point, we were angrily chased away by a resident whose home we had accidentally traipsed into.

The tour didn’t cover a particularly big area, and I realised that Singapore, being Singapore, was so clean that even back alleys were a disappointing vision of whitewashed blandness, at least in the Stamford Road area. Yet, there was a certain pleasure in discovering the unexpected, like a charming piece of graffiti or an unexplored alleyway.

At the end of the tour, our hunger to probe was left unsated, and we continued onwards through the back entrance of the National Museum, inadvertently striking up a conversation with Lim Chen Sian (the archaeologist in Invisible City by Tan Pin Pin), followed by a second sunbaked adventure through the comparatively crazier back lanes of Little India.

You Are Not A Tourist

Ong believes that “one’s experience of a place consists of a string of recollected memories/moments, edited and juxtaposed over time, taking on a spatiality that is almost ethereal.” and he invites us to layer our experience onto his. By the end, we had explored an area — and beyond — which we wouldn’t have done without his initiative, taking away a slice of Singapore that would have otherwise been undiscovered or ignored, perhaps to return at a later time to renew the experience.

You Are Not A Tourist, 4 Aug 2007 to 2 Oct 2007
CityLink Mall, near Concierge
Tan Kai Syng’s The Rather Terrible Slaughter of the Tourist Guide
Tang Ling Nah’s Here, There, Nowhere

Raffles City Shopping Center, Level 1 Concierge
Tan Kai Syng’s The Rather Terrible Slaughter of the Tourist Guide
Soundwalk by Charles Lim using the film of Wee Li Lin’s Gone Shopping
Vince Ong’s The City Remembers



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