Captured on film: The URBAN RICE PADDY

If you didn’t get a chance to visit the Urban Rice Paddy grown by EAM artists in Singapore, here’s some of our photographs below. It was installed in May-June 2014 at the central National Library building in Singapore, an outdoor public plaza in the heart of the arts district of this busy city. Thanks to photographers Weiteck Chee and Jane ArtSg for capturing these shots.

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About the art installation: What is the Urban Rice Paddy

The Edible Art Movement invited the public to literally touch the soil we live on and connect with something so simple yet profound: rice. The site­-specific art installation used the symbolic grid of a traditional farmed rice paddy,­ delving into historical themes in the context of contemporary art, whilst encouraging your creativity to be nurtured alongside the rice.

For the installation, the EAM artists grew a rice paddy field, from seed, and transplanted it from their studios to the National Library’s open air public plaza. 500 rice bowls were collected from individuals all over Singapore for the transplanting, and their story also became part of the artwork. (see the video)

Rice and Asia are deeply associated. The first recorded stories of rice come from China, one of the world’s oldest civilizations. As humans moved on from hunting to an agriculture-­based gathering society, the rice paddy became a ritualistic celebration of community engagement, spiritual and human connection. Singing, dancing, feasting and story­-telling mark particular points of the season.

The EAM has always been interested in the ability of food to act as a stimulus to creativity, drawing people together in a celebratory atmosphere ­ not just around the dinner table but also throughout the growing, cultivating and harvesting process. We programmed performance art, interactions and community art projects around the rice paddy field, to bring this community-creativity concept back into the faced-paced world of Singapore. The Edible Art Movement aims to thrill the mind and senses with with themes inspired by the edible world. This month EAM will again harness the power of art and food to connect people and cultures, to link us with our pasts and futures.

Artistic line­-up: The installation featured exciting names from the emerging contemporary art scene. As with all EAM exhibitions, a talented team of artists comes together to create the artwork collaboratively, and several artists additionally create their own distinct elements within the art installation: Stellah Lim Chii Cze, (previously exhibited at exhibited at SAM, Chan Hampe and Yavuz among others), presented a series of texts or images to be found inside or emblazoned upon the installation, relating to the farming process of rice & farmers. Ceramic artists Steven Low Thia Kwang and Ng Yang Ce hosted an interactive demonstration, when participating visitors were guided through the making of their own petite rice bowl. Catch Steven with EAM before he leaves for his residency as the selected Singaporean artist at the Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale. Meanwhile the founder of SCYA, Jacquelyn Soo, presented a community collaborative artwork created for Singaporeans to evoke memories of their relationship to local cuisine and to explore ideas of food security, sustainability in the global market. In conceptualising & growing a paddy field in Singapore, artist Kanchana Gupta swapped her heavily textured and landscaped oil paint for soil, water and rice. For this, she draws from her childhood nostalgia in rural India where her father is a farmer. Performance artist Daniela Beltrani interacted with the crowds during an artwork involving rice seeds.

Watch the video here

The installation was supported and sponsored by:  the National Book Development Council of Singapore and hosted by the National Library.

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