1963 Death of Democracy

Photography : Jonathan Lum


1963 Death of Democracy


White Stoneware, Underglaze, Glaze, Gold Lustre, Mother of Pearl Lustre

34 x 7 x 38 cm

This piece is made to recall back on the Cold War period in Singapore, where the dominant party “won” its place through labeling political opponents as communists and detaining them without trial. The year 1963, like the title has suggested, is the democracy death of Singapore when leaders of now defunct political party, Barisan Sosialis were arrested. This is an important part of Singapore’s history manipulated and concealed in the state-dictated narrative. This piece is my way of signaling the need to challenge the imposed history written in any nation and the need of listen to history of people instead of solely the state. The state official history is not always equivalent to the history of the people.

In blue and red is the logo of Barisan Sosialis, and on the other side is my rendition of it, like a flower garland. The Medusa with gold lustre is a brass stamping I have collected and like the pastries mold, I created a mold out of it. Utilized on this piece, Medusa symbolize victim blaming. Till today, prominent members of Barisan Sosialis are still being accused of various incidents thus justifying the arrest–a form of victim blaming in the state official narrative. The piece also contains, on both sides, letters cut out individually, of a font reflective of the period in the 60s.

‘Merdeka’ in english means independence and freedom

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