House Tour: Inspiring Houses in Joo Chiat

By Samantha Echavez / Cromly | July 19, 2018 6:00 PM SGT
What OH! Open House has been trying to achieve, since its founding in 2009, is to challenge and elevate how art is experienced in the everyday. From the art deco neighbourhoods of Tiong Bahru to the absurdist side of Marina Bay, Singapore's first art walkabout is designed to reveal the quirks, whims, nuances, and secret lives of this island-state, through art installations in various residential spaces.
This year's open house took us to the sometimes-mocked and oft-talked-about Joo Chiat. The tour, which ran on all weekends of March, was meant to dismiss the definitions attached to Singapore' first heritage town. Is it, as people have claimed, hinged on sleaziness? Do residents themselves feel disconcerted by bars masquerading as kitschy shophouses? "Joo Chiat has always defied you. Its people, its history, even its name resists the black and white story. [But] who has the right to define and lay claim to Joo Chiat?" asks tour curator and artistic director Alan Oei.