Singapore Biennale: Sharon Chin’s flower power

Photo:Mysara Aljaru
Photo: Mysara Aljaru
Photo: Mysara Aljaru
Photo: Mysara Aljaru
Published: 1:49 PM, October 27, 2013
Updated: 6:00 PM, October 28, 2013

SINGAPORE — One moment I was busy snapping pictures and, the next, I was clutching my camera, trying to avoid getting splashed with water. (I still got wet anyway.)

Malaysian artist Sharon Chin’s 10-minute-long performance art piece Mandi Bunga (flower bath) saw some 100 men, women and children participating in a mass floral bath outside the National Museum of Singapore yesterday (Oct 26).

It was evidently a fun one, no matter if you were participating in the old Asian flower bath ritual, or simply a curious passer-by — I found myself wishing I was part of it as well.

The mood was lively as Chin waved a flag, a signal for the participants dressed in yellow sarongs to start emptying the contents of their net bags — containing lime leaves and flowers — into yellow basins filled with water that they were going to bathe from. Seeing that there were 100 of them, it didn’t take long for the nice fragrance of the leaves and flowers to fill the air.

It also didn’t take long for the mood to turn from lively to playful. In a matter of minutes, almost everyone was splashing water at each other and it wasn’t hard to see that they were having a ball of a time that evening — more so for the artist herself.

“I’ve lived with this project for about a year, and obsessing about it, so I feel so satisfied,” she said. “The idea was to do something together.”

Chin said her experience taking part in Bersih (a movement for free and fair elections in Malaysia) inspired her to do this performance.

“That experience led me to think about what group action means — what does it mean for people to do something together. In bigger groups, you tend to lose the self, the person. So I wanted to do an action that was together, but still keep that sense of individuality for each person.”

Seeing the happy faces on everyone who participated, I’d say she has something to grin about herself!

Singapore Biennale 2013 - Mandi Bunga from Mysara Aljaru on Vimeo.