A Tiger Beer pen; an ‘I Am A Young Ecologist’ badge; a jar of saga seeds; three deities planted in soil in a bottle. Before it was closed down, we purchased a collection of objects from the Sungei Road Market with the intention of matching them to twenty-five Singaporean politicians. Based on their public lives, they are each gifted an object along with a personalised haiku. These politicians are members of Singapore’s Cabinet and three additional Members of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC (where the market was located), none of whom opposed the demolition of the market or that of other heritage sites in modern-day Singapore. These gifts represent a farewell of sorts from the market to those who, directly or otherwise, determined its fate. With this collection, we ask if secondhand objects hold an everlasting energy, if they can connect us to place and people, if dirt is gold, if death is final, if memory is resurrective.
The Sungei Road Market, Singapore’s oldest flea market, closed on July 10 2017. Calls for the government to reconsider the decision were unsuccessful and it suffered a similar fate as many other heritage sites. Near its end, the government encouraged the public to celebrate the market’s heritage on roots.sg via short films, articles and virtual tours. The market, a free hawking zone which formed around the 1930s, was said to have helped hawkers - especially elderly ones - make a humble living. Relocation efforts for approximately 200 hawkers are ongoing and uncertain.
Funeral In 25 Objects is a project by Ng Xi Jie and Michelle Tan.