Pasar Singapura: Conversations in Motion

Source: Pinterest

What comes to mind when we say “pasar”? To most Singaporeans, we think of a pasar malam (“night market”) but in Spanish, it means “to pass through” or “what’s up?” (que pasa?). In both context, “pasar” involves movement, and inspires conversation.

Two Countries, One Friendship

In 2015, Singapore and Mexico will celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations. To celebrate this milestone, Pop-Up Singapore House will be organising an event in Mexico City called Pasar Singapura. This event, which will be held on 25th March 2015, is also a component of the cultural diplomacy platform Spotlight Singapore that brings Singapore art overseas.

Pasar 2Source: Pop Up Singapore House

Pasar Singapura aims to bring the people of Singapore and Mexico together to spark conversations and friendships through the use of culture and arts. To blend the two worlds together, the organizers conceptualized a marketplace concept that would showcase the sights and sounds of Singapore to Mexicans.

So here’s how the marketplace works: There are three courtyards for visitors to roam. Instead of stalls selling their wares however, what is on display are the ideas and works of Singaporean artists, in collaboration with the artists of Mexico.

“When we talk about starting a friendship, it’s possible to speak different languages and come from very different backgrounds very far apart geographically,” says Pop-Up Singapore House illustrator Clara Yee. “How we bring them closer is through a marketplace, through trading, through exchanging of ideas.”

The showcases themselves are the results of this – the Singaporean artists brought up have been paired with their Mexican counterparts to work together in a collaborative effort.

Courtyard One: Begin a Trade

Pasar 3Illustration by Clara Yee

What is intended to capture your attention in the first courtyard is the textile canopy above you, billowing in the wind. To resemble those blue-and-white striped pasar malam tents, batik fabrics would be stretched across the area.

What it will shelter below is the “Traders’ Market”. Stalls will be set up with contributions from Singaporean designers and artists, such as stickers or magazines or old illustrations. Event attendees can obtain these, but there is a catch – they cannot purchase anything with money, they have to trade it. They can trade with their own little crafts, poetry, or even an idea or their time. A piece of Singapore in exchange for a conversation sounds like the making of a sweet deal.

Courtyard Two: Watch Art Unfold

Pasar 4
Source: Beautiful/Decay

What you’ll see at the second courtyard is a mural-in-progress. In Mexico, mural painting started with the Olmec civilization back in 1200BCE, mostly done to evangelise and reinfornce Christian doctrine. Currently, the tradition of painting murals is kept alive with the use of political and social themes. This courtyard will thus combine the artistic traditions from both Mexico and Singapore when Mexican street artist Aletss Murdoc and Singaporean street artist Clogtwo come together,

The organizers gave them a broad theme of – what else – Conversation.

Indeed, both artists are currently in a conversation themselves. To share and bounce ideas off each other, the two have been Skyping, emailing, and even Instagramming their sketches to each other. Although Aletss Murdoc is more proficient in Spanish than in English, the two mainly converse through their drawings.

“That’s art and design,” Clara explains. “Culture doesn’t need a language for you to express it, you can just understand or experience it.”

Courtyard Three: Party Away


Pasar 5
Source: Wikipedia

Finally, have the time of your life at the third courtyard. There are two components to this – a Mexican hammock (known as a hamaca) made of batik designed by Singaporean textile artist Sam Tio, and a DJ booth.

The hamacas are an extension of Sam Tio’s work (The Wax on Our Fingers). Using a similar structure, she will conduct interviews with the Mexican community based in Singapore. Her photographs are then exposed onto the batik works using cyanotype.

The DJ booth itself is designed to look like a rojak stand, with a box that reads “$1, $2, $5”.

Cooking up a storm with their music are two DJs, Singaporean DJ K and Mexican DJ Jacinto. They have webcams set up in their studios, and exchange tunes via Skype calls. Based on each other’s tune, the other would react and spin his response, and a musical conversation will soon flow.

The DJs have been tasked to create a mixtape each, inspired by the sounds of their own city. The sounds could be anything ranging from a streetscape to old vinyls from local bands. Three hours of mixtapes would bring the event to a close and friendships to a fresh beginning.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Mexico is a historically and culturally rich country with an amazing arts scene. It is only natural to worry about how our young nation can offer to a country whose unqiue form of art goes back all the way to the time of the Aztecs.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t the Singaporean artists who are self-conscious, it was the organisers. Upon seeing the culture in the hundreds-years old streets, they began feeling anxious about what we have to show. However, the artists are more self-assured.

“It’s not about trying to show off,” reminds Clara. “We’re just offering our friendship.”

Leave a message

While the event will be held in Mexico City and there are no current plans to feature them in Singapore, you can still take part in it! The organizers are crowd-sourcing for snaps of Singaporeans with their messages to Mexicans. This is what you have to do:

  1. 1. Find a Singaporean backdrop you like
  2. Hold up a board with your message to the Mexican guests
  3. Snap the picture!
  4. Private Message to PASAR_SINGAPURA on instagram or email them at by 25th March 2015

Kind of like what we did here:

Pasar 6 Pasar 7

Do you want to attend Pasar Singapura? Let us know in the comments!