Arts

The Manhattan Project: Singapore’s art ambassadors in NYC

Robert Zhao Renhui's Singapore, one of his works on display at Singapore: Inside Out. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Singapore: Inside Out in Madison Square Park. Photo: STB
THE Dance Company performing at Singapore: Inside Out. Photo: Mayo Martina
Music duo NADA rocking the stage at Madison Square Park for Singapore: Inside Out. Photo: STB
Performance artist Jason Lim at Singapore: Inside Out. Photo: STB
The grounds-up initiative Something To Write Home About festival, a partner event of Singapore: Inside Out. Photo: Something To Write Home About.
Guests at the grounds-up initiative Something To Write Home About festival, a partner event of Singapore: Inside Out. Photo: Something To Write Home About.
What it takes to promote a Little Red Dot in the Big Red Apple
Published: 4:16 AM, October 3, 2015
Updated: 10:20 AM, October 6, 2015
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NEW YORK — For the longest time, Singapore has tried to get Jerry Saltz to check out the arts scene in the Lion City (since the Singapore Biennale in 2006, to be exact), but all efforts to bring the famous art critic for New York rags such as TheVillage Voice and New York Magazine fell through.

So it did the next best thing: It brought the art over to him.

The move paid off handsomely. Last week, the 64-year-old Saltz, who has become somewhat of a social media cult figure, was spotted in the crowd during the opening night of Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) five-day travelling arts showcase Singapore: Inside Out (SGIO) at Madison Square Park in Manhattan.

There, he tweeted about artist Zul Mahmod’s sound sculpture and Instagrammed a wefie with pastry chef Janice Wong and her creative lollipops to his 67,700 and 122,000 followers, respectively.

And if that wasn’t enough, the STB folks got him on video to describe how “amazing” the “open-air kasbah-carnival-art fair-museum” was and how he was “madly jealous” about the “huge exploding art scene in Singapore”; before literally giving the entire event a thumbs up.

 

NEW YORK, HERE WE COME

 

Obviously, you don’t just fly over an arts showcase just for one art critic, and Saltz’s enthusiastic endorsement wasn’t purely by chance. In a week when New York was abuzz with a Papal visit and the United Nations General Assembly, Singapore was aggressively jostling for the city’s attention.

That week’s issue of New York Magazine (where Saltz is a columnist) carried a rather meaty story-slash-advertisement about SGIO, featuring fashion designer Elyn Wong (of Stolen) and multi-media collective Syndicate.

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