an almost natural history of social relations




An Almost Natural History of Social Relations was a mindmap developed in collaboration with fellow artist Michael Lee Hong Hwee as part of his second solo exhibition, A Psychotaxonomy of Home. In that show, Lee mines the rich symbolic history of the Peranakans or Straits Chinese, descendants of the Chinese diaspora that settled in parts of Southeast Asia from the 15th and 16th century. In particular, the show was sited in the Baba House, an original Peranakan dwelling restored and turned into a museum.
To get to the exhibition, visitors must first make their way through the first two floors of meticulously restored rooms and halls, replete with furniture and other accoutrements of the house and its former owners that form the permanent collection of the museum as well as a time capsule of sorts. The third floor where A Psychotaxonomy of Home was exhibited, is a white-cube space where Lee has engaged with the imagery of Chinese myths and legends and their places within domestic spaces, spaces in which the viewers have just experienced.

This map is an attempt to consolidate and trace the relationships between the myths, folklores, superstitions, symbolisms and colloquial slangs related to animals, plants, objects and deities familiar to many Chinese Peranakan households. Not only inviting viewers to imagine and speculate on their origin and usage, it reveals that the sacred and the profane are never really too far from each other.

Vinyl installation on wall
200 x 600 cm (approx.)
from A Psychotaxonomy of Home
4 Sep 2008 - 15 Apr 2009
Baba House, Singapore
Michael Lee Hong Hwee + Brendan Goh
images by han