SAM x Shentonista: Novel Ways Of Dressing—Binding Ties

When we think about the world of art, we’re all familiar with the glamour and charm that’s been portrayed on glossy pages and the silver screen, but it’s not so often that we get a glimpse into the intricacies and minute details that go into the making of exhibitions and events. Rao, part of the estate management team at Singapore Art Museum (SAM), is one of the various hands that are responsible for bringing these events together, from the set-up till the last moment of tear down. Having been with SAM for more than seven years, he’s also gained much along the way—including a growing appreciation for art and artists alike, and a support system that he calls his second family, which is one of the various reasons why he chose Vicente Delgado’s whimsical piece as inspiration for his outfit today.

Read more as Rao shares with Shentonista about his journey with and as part of SAM, and how he’s become closer to the world of contemporary art over the years. Seek fashion inspiration from the ongoing Time Passes exhibition by SAM and you might stand a chance to be rewarded with $500—continue reading on till the end of the article to find out how you can participate in our Novel Ways Of Dressing open call.

Shentonista (S): Share with us more about your role at SAM.
Rao (R): My job scope falls under estate management—I’m in charge of arranging and organising events, building maintenance, and anything else that comes up related to the building. With the ongoing renovation for SAM, we now arrange the pop-up events all around Singapore and in mini-mobile museums.

S: The SAM building is currently under works, but share with us a secret about the building that not many people know about.
R: The dome of the old SAM building—people don’t know that there are staircases which you can use to climb all the way up to the dome. It’s under construction so the public can’t go anymore, but the SAM staff can still go up (laughs). We still visit the building regularly even during construction because we need to check on the progress.

S: Share with us a little more about why you decided to choose Vicente Delgado’s We Are Family.
R: I like the colours—they’re very fun and bright.

S: How did the colours affect your outfit choice for the feature?
R: Like the artwork, I tried to combine different clothes, like the plaid shirt and my bag, for better and brighter effect. My favourite colour is white but I still like to wear bright colours.

Vicente Delgado, We Are Family, 2014, as part of The Learning Gallery.

S:  You came here from India: how has your own understanding/concept of family changed?
R: I’m physically away from my family but I can still stay close to them using technology, because we can still video call and see each other. So I still feel that I’m not far from them even though I’m here. I couldn’t go back because of Covid-19, so we stay in touch with the webcam’s help now (laughs). Because I’ve been with SAM for seven years, I also feel that I have a Singapore family—my colleagues at SAM are all quite close to me, especially the exhibition team colleagues.

S: This artwork tries to introduce some elements of play with the interactive features—what was your favourite toy or activity while growing up?
R: Growing up in India, I always loved cricket, so my favourite ‘toy’ was my bat. I don’t have time to play cricket anymore—there’s only time to play mobile games (laughs).

S: What’s one part about your job that you enjoy the most?
R: I like to organise events—we don’t have that many events now because of Covid-19, but I liked events because I got to meet different people and each event came with a different challenge that we have to solve.

Vicente Delgado, We Are Family, 2014, as part of The Learning Gallery.

S: On that note, what’s something challenging about your line of work?
R: During some periods, we have back-to-back events with a lot of logistics required so we don’t have enough time to properly prepare for each event. Sometimes, people don’t understand how much work is needed for set-up—when they walk into the event, everything is completed so they only see the full picture, but they don’t know how much time and prep goes in. We also prepare extra equipment for all the events, just in case.

S: Has your perception or understanding of art changed over the years during your time at SAM?
R: Yes, definitely. When I started, I don’t think I knew how to appreciate art. I saw the artwork but didn’t really understand the meaning behind what I was seeing. Over the years, during installation, sometimes I get to chat with the artists and understand more about their art, so I’ve learnt more. Now, I feel that I can appreciate art.

S: Personally, which type of art style or movement do you prefer?
R: I like contemporary art, maybe because I’m working in SAM which is a contemporary art museum. With contemporary art, you can base the artworks on current events, so I feel it’s more relevant and I can understand them better and if they’re interactive, they’re also very unique. Some of my favourite artworks use technology or projections to create art—like the exhibitions by TeamLab.

Be fashionably inspired by the artworks that are part of the ongoing Time Passes exhibition and stand a chance to be rewarded with $500—to participate in our open call for Novel Ways of Dressing, simply follow the steps below:

1/ Visit the Time Passes exhibition either digitally (at the link here) or in-person, from now till 30th November
2/ Find your fashion inspiration from any work on display and dress up
3/ Snap a photo of yourself in your curated outfit next to the artwork that inspired it, and tell us why you were inspired by it. If you’re visiting the exhibition virtually, simply tell us in your post which artwork you’re referencing.
4/ Share it on either Facebook or Instagram (or on Stories!) and remember to tag the Singapore Art Museum (@singaporeartmuseum), Shentonista (@shentonista) and add the hashtag #NovelWaysOfDressing to your post!

This is a content partnership with Shentonista and the Singapore Art Museum. Throughout this month, we’ll continue to share more stories from the individuals that make up Singapore Art Museum and how they were inspired from the works on display at SAM’s Learning Gallery, so keep a lookout.

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