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MB-BT – Singapura

Luo Jingmei looks back at an exhibition at The U Factory that featured art, design – and fruits.

MB-BT – Singapura

Top image: ‘Queen of Fruits’ by Leng Soh highlighted the mangosteen

The durian, mangosteen, starfruit and coconut – these tropical fruits are a ubiquitous part of our childhood and our everyday, both visual and sensual. Makanlah Buah-Buahan Tempatan (MB-BT) – Singapura (Malay for ‘Let’s Eat Local Fruits – Singapore’) was an exhibition held at The U Factory from 18 to 22 January this year that put them in the spotlight.

Visitors browse the exhibition in Gillman Barracks

Located in Gillman Barrack’s assembly hall, it is the first Singapore edition of the exhibition that was held twice previously in Malaysia (2011, 2013). It was conceived by Malaysian creatives Driv Loo, Ellie See, Chris Wong and Levin Teh to promote local fruits and encourage the public’s appreciation (and consumption) of locally produced art.

‘Cococut’ by &Larry featured real human hair 

Roots, a Singapore-based interdisciplinary design agency helmed by Jonathan Yuen, curated the Singapore edition. Ten artists and designers from the island were invited to express their favourite fruits in various mediums (graphic design, sculpture, illustration, typography, photography, film, music, etc.). These were placed alongside ten other original works from Malaysia. Some were also available for sale.

Ellie See’s ‘Skins’ has fruit ‘blown up’ like balloons to reflect the adaptive nature of Malaysians

“I was fortunate to be invited as one of the contributors for the past two exhibitions. I had worked with Driv before; he’s a good friend of mine, and had expressed interest in bringing the project to Singapore… both countries share and consume the same local fruits, yet each have distinct and vibrant art and design scenes,” shares Yuen on what interested him about the project.

The lion fruit reinterpreted by Merryhairy

The U Factory, a three-month-long pop-up art and design space by Singapore-based lifestyle publication Underscore, provided the apt location. The results were as diverse as the contributors’ backgrounds, and as light-hearted as the topic.

‘The Local Fruit Abstract’ by Foreign Policy Design Group

Yah-Leng Yu and Liquan Liew from graphic design and branding agency Foreign Policy Design Group created a set of art prints. In the form of book covers, the visual style was inspired by illustrations found in scientific and botanical periodicals, which were manifested three-dimensionally in the form of a Bauhaus-inspired mobile; photographer Jovian Lim’s pictures of palms in yellow pots had colours and compositions that mimicked those of the pineapple.

Edmund Seet’s sculpture ‘The Contemporary King’

Meanwhile, Edmund Seet from multidisciplinary design studio Bureau injected humour into the exhibition, by paying homage to the durian by giving it a coat of whitewash. Presented like a museum-like work of art, the king of fruits, while reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup pop-art print that elevated the everyday tin can, was also given attention worthy of its name.

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