Angel Anne Nazareth Javier
An unemployed interior designer.
Unearthing Stories, Against Tabula Rasa
This project started with my interest in ‘Ruins’ – the story it speaks, the history it contains, to the rawness and beauty of the materiality it holds.
That is why this project questions the buried dangers in preservation in Singapore, as the Tabula Rasa strategy does not only cause the structures themselves to be destroyed but also the authenticity of stories of these buildings to be completely erased from existence.
I will be tackling three pars regarding the ‘Buried Dangers in Preservation’ – they are firstly those spaces neglected in preservation, secondly the superficial and physical illusion in preservation and finally, as a conclusion, the scars and scabs of spaces during preservation.
Neglected Spaces in Preservation
Preservation is undoubtly something that Singapore takes into high consideration. As under the National Heritage Board there is a national authority that oversees preservation of sites and monuments. However, according to them only those sites or spaces that are ‘historic, cultural, traditional, archaeological, architectural, artistic or symbolic significance and of national importance’ are worth preserving. So I questioned, what happens to those not considered worthy of preservation? To those spaces neglected in preservation? Hence, the importance for the first part of this project is to discover a way to show importance and beauty to those even neglected in preservation. To bring a certain fondness for these space to the people. Through an ‘Investigative Documentation’ that is uprooted from my few readings that showcases wonder, exploration and a new sense of appreciation for such spaces, I have gathered these readings and information and used them as a method for unearthing hidden stories. I have tasked myself to design a performance installation of a retelling of these stories through a spatial experience as the first part of the project. This is to prove that even those neglected in preservation – the ugly and the beautiful, are worthy of attention, admiration and fondess from the people and therefore, worthy of the act of preservation as well.
Questioning the Illusion in Preservation
There is an illusion of preservation in Singapore where we preserve only on a superficial level. This dilutes the authenticity and identity of the space which would eventually lead to its demise. The dangers in preservation are the possibilities of losing the soul of the space, a contradiction to the true meaning of preserving. Hence, by unearthing the authenticity and stories it holds through an investigative documentation, we can be more sensitive to the nuances of the space. The ability to discover more than what meets the eye is key to preserve beyond physicality and superficiality. The act of preservation starts when we start to ‘add’ something. The ‘injection’ in the space does not need to be an exact fit, but one that can provoke questions in the current way we live. The patterns and choice of invention may be unpredictable but its ‘preservation’ must stay true to its origin. As preserving the unvarnished truth and its history will lead us in the experimental evolution of the space.
Scars and Scabs
The mark of time and evidence of violence can be seen through scars. You may expect spaces that are old and to be preserved that are filled with them, as they are the marks of pride, and of honour, both for what has been lost and what has been gained. The acceptance of the scar is an acceptance of existence’. The first layer of healing, Scab, is not pretty in the aesthetic standards, but beautiful in the existential
sense. The celebration of these scars and realisation of the beautiful healing process,scabs, are just one of the right way of treating our spaces right. The transformation of the space becomes coherent with everything else, its history, reason for existing and authenticity. This is through discovering and learning the right way of treatment, programme and injection of new materials in the space. Scars and Scabs are the acceptance of the imperfection, pride over the marks and the welcome transformation of the space that happens naturally. The outcome may not be perfect and polished, but it is made sure to be true, real and an authentic space. It would make the ‘perfect society’ uncomfortable and the ones who rebels against the norm rejoice