Objects in Nature

Fragment of a Shoreline

The historical shoreline of pre-colonial Singapore is resurrected at the site of a national parade square. History lies hidden beneath our feet – though we cannot see it, the psychogeography of this city shapes us and our stories.

Between 14 January and 3 February 2022, the historical shoreline of pre-colonial Singapore re-emerges starkly on the Padang’s surface.

The Padang is a space charged with civic significance. Occupying the heart of the city, the expansive open space bears an ambiguous relationship to the average Singaporean. Against the backdrop of national judicial centres, the Padang communicates grandeur and sobriety. Only national festivities of the grandest scale warrant occupancy of this site, and that only at specific times of the year.

Titled ‘Fragment of a Shoreline’, the 55m long piece pays tribute to Singapore’s years of nation building, and the myriad decades past of developmental and geographical change. By resurrecting a fragment of Singapore’s original coastline of 1843, it explores the embedded psychogeographies of Singapore’s land reclamation since its colonial founding. 
The odd fragment of the shoreline far displaced from Singapore’s current land boundary elicits questions of how and why this urban district has evolved. In this charged site of the Padang, the installation subtly recalls the nation’s pre-founding ruggedness, colonial milieu, and post-independence development.

The anti-monument of a patch of beach reinvokes centuries’ past of activity and spectacle. Between fishing shore, colonial dealings and metropolitan bustle, the Padang has been a quiet and restless witness to Singapore’s changes.

As with a regular beach, visitors are invited to play, lounge and simply interact with the installation.


Year 2022 Location Singapore Commissioned by National Gallery Singapore Partners Akai Chew, Dominic Khoo (OFTRT) Area 70sqm Status Completed