The building of Singapore involved not only transforming the island into a nation, but also improving the lives of its people. In this excerpt, the poet attributes the success of these efforts to Singapore’s pioneer leaders. By the end of the 1970s, mass industrialisation and pro-business policies had ushered in economic success. Near to full employment and high wages also contributed to the creation of an affluent society. More importantly, economic policies that guided education, housing and population initiatives created a social environment in which the nation took precedence.
The Singaporean identity is inherently plural. In the 1970s, race, culture and language were formalised and enshrined into categories that were at once distinct and discrete. By the mid-1980s, these characterisations were debated and articulated in many different ways by Singapore’s artistic practitioners. They created original works that emphasised expressions of national identity and belonging. In the process, they shaped a vibrant society that could accommodate multiple voices and communities – a legacy that continues to inspire us today.
Through cultural artefacts including music, performances, television and theatre, this gallery explores how Singaporeans constructed a complex terrain of self-expression in the 1970s and 80s. The newly commissioned film installation in the back room is a creative expression of Singapore’s distinct identity. It is also a testament to the National Museum of Singapore’s commitment towards producing new cultural responses to the past.
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Image: © National Museum of Singapore.
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