Of Public Interest: The Singapore Art Museum Resource Room (2015) - Installation

Opened on 20 August, 2015
Exhibition from 21 August, 2015 to 27 March, 2016

part of President's Young Talents 2015, Singapore Art Museum
at Singapore Art Museum at 8Q
8 Queen Street, Singapore 188535

Of Public Interest was a project that moved 4,500 volumes from the Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) resource room into the space of a gallery.

The Singapore Art Museum Resource Room is a collection of catalogues, brochures and books that the institution has amassed since its inception in 1996. A number of these materials were acquired specifically for the resource room, but most of them were gifted to the institution by individuals and partner organisations. This resource room was open for access as a reference library until 2008, when the museum’s administrative offices moved out of the main building into a neighbouring complex.

For his President’s Young Talents commission, Zihan decided to reopen this body of information for public access over the duration of the exhibition. Together with a team of 25 volunteers, these books were catalogued and sequenced chronologically according to their date of publication. They have also been colour-coded according to the location of the publisher and presenting institution.

Presented as an installation-in-flux, the work functioned as a reference library open to the public. The public was invited to shape the collection for the duration of the exhibition from August 2015 to March 2016, subject to the following conditions:

  • Each visitor was allowed to withdraw one book from the collection. Public access to this book was restricted for the duration of the exhibition. These books were shrink-wrapped and placed in a separate area of the installation.
  • Each visitor was allowed to loan one book to the collection. This contribution was in effect for the duration of the exhibition. These books were accessible to other visitors and placed in a separate area of the installation.

At the end of the exhibition, there were a total of 84 public withdrawals and 14 public contributions. These interventions, along with a form that lists their name, gender and the reason for their withdrawal / contribution of the title are archived below. The withdrawn books were reinstated to the SAM Resource Room, and contributions were returned to their respective lenders.

The artist intended to foreground the evolving priorities and concerns that were reflected in the institution’s collection of books and ephemera, and for the space to critically reflect on the role of the art museum as a centre for the dissemination and transmission of knowledge.

Exhibition Assistant - Tysha Khan


Public Withdrawals:


Public Contributions: