SEASTATE 8 : seabook the submerged histories of gsp1

SEASTATE 8 : seabook the submerged histories of gsp1

In the various maritime maps produced of Singapore between the nineteenth century to the present day, Singapore has changed from ‘Singapore Island’ to simply ‘Singapore’ reminding us that contact zones between land and sea remain contested spaces. 

Seen as an extension of Lim’s solo exhibition at the NUS Museum titled In Search of Raffles’ Light, www.seabook.sg is conceived as a website for the accumulation of archival materials, anecdotes, and memories that unravel Singapore’s relationship with its sea. 

Developed with librarians at the National Library Board, the project attempts to bring to the fore materials ranging from pre-Rafflesian artefacts such as maps, charts and manuscripts, to the vast archives that were accumulated during the colonial period, as well as the multiple studies that have attempted to grapple with the complex and strategic relationship postcolonial Singapore has established with the sea. 

In effect, www.seabook.sg aspires to be the most comprehensive cultural study of Singapore’s relationship with the sea to be ever undertaken.

The project was also partially inspired by the life of polymath Eric Ronald Alfred, a marine zoologist, Singapore’s first non-European Director of the Raffles Museum, and founder-curator of the country’s erstwhile and only Maritime Museum (1972-2005). 

During his years as curator of the Museum, Alfred was also commissioned by his then-employer, the Port of Singapore Authority, to relocate residents from outer-lying islands off the coast of Singapore to the mainland, as the country prepared to embark on major land reclamation projects. 

The project is accumulative in its approach, with other voices constantly added. For instance, Captain Wilson Chua, now retired Chief Hydrographer of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore; Professor Lui Pao Chuen, who was appointed to the newly created post of Chief Defence Scientist, Ministry of Defence in 1986; and Lily Cashin, a former lawyer turned professional dancer who used to live with her husband Howard at one of the oldest pier houses in Singapore along the Johor Straits.

This work is not yet released.