Picturing the Pandemic

Anchored around a white, rough-hewn rotunda, monolithic volumes and walls of varied materiality define a series of austere spaces that present vignettes and abstracted atmospheres of everyday life during the uncertain early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picturing the Pandemic, as the exhibition’s full title reveals, presents a “visual record” of everyday life in Singapore during the early days of COVID-19. Reflecting on the sudden stillness of Singapore's public spaces during the 2020 Circuit-Breaker, the exhibition is designed to be sombre and meditative. Circulating in a pinwheel fashion, visitors meander through sections that become progressively brighter and more visually vibrant — a reflection of a society striving to establish new norms in an uncertain period. This visual experience is augmented by a gallery-wide soundscape composed by The Analog Girl, that is further layered with spillover sounds emanating from a film-screening space.

The spaces are defined with monolithic volumes and walls with blocky cantilevers; these are anchored around an imposing white rotunda, where a specially-commissioned film is screened within. These abstract forms are finished in austere and rough-hewn materials — red-tinted OSB boards, black-stained plywood, and textural plasterwork — that evoke the hastiness in which society was brought to a standstill. Visual and curatorial linkages between the exhibited photographs and film are established through a series of fenestrations on the rotunda.
A variety of display methods are employed to showcase the exhibition’s commissioned photographs, ranging from an abstracted table-seat installation to evoke empty hawker centres, larger-than-life monolithic lightboxes that exaggerate the camera’s voyeuristic gaze, to intimately-scaled apertures that peek into how classrooms operate during the pandemic.

Taking cues from the visual language that emerged during the pandemic, the exhibition’s overall visual and graphic branding draws attention to distances established by mandatory social distancing. The motif of double-headed arrows — physically deployed 1m apart from each other within the exhibition’s space — becomes both metaphorical and functional, in an exhibition that reflects on, and operates in an ongoing pandemic.
LOCATION
Singapore
YEAR
Completion 2021
DISCIPLINE
EXHIBITION
TYPOLOGY
MUSEUM/GALLERY
SIZE (SQM)
550
TEAM
WILLIE KOH, LEE HUILIAN, SEAN POON, GEORGINA TAN, PNG JUN KIAT 
COLLABORATORS
PHOTOGRAPHER: KHOO GUO JIE  |   MUSICAL ARTIST: THE ANALOG GIRL