June Yap, Stream, 2011

Artist Statement

Fort Canning Hill is claimed to be one of Singapore’s most historic landmarks: the ­purported site for ­ancient royalty, the seat of colonial administration, backyard to ­botanical explorations, and the stage for military manoeuvres and ­historic meetings. This largely official and nationalist history is ­remembered through ­archaeological fragments, of relics and ­remnants, that dot the hill.

It is also a history that would appear quite distant and distinct from the activities that occur on Fort Canning Hill today — where the ­health-­conscious yet city-bound can find some respite from concrete and glass, a site for music and performance events, a hotel, restaurants and a registry of ­marriages.

But history isn’t just what you are told, history is what you make of it, and on this hill it is conjured through material, space, text, and more ­importantly imagination. Stream, is a ­historical sketch of Fort Canning, that takes you to two different times, in the same space, on the hill. They overlap and ­become ­compressed. As they mingle, their stories leak into one another, and a new history emerges.

“One day Colonel Farquhar wanted to ascend the Forbidden Hill, as it was called by the Temenggong. The Temenggong’s men said, ‘None of us have the courage to go up the hill ­because there are many ghosts on it. Everyday one can hear on it sounds as if hundreds of m­en. ­Sometimes one hears the sounds of heavy drums and of people shouting.” - Quote from The Hikayat Abdullah, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir (translated by A. H. Hill), published by The Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, first published in 1849

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