Thursday, March 31, 2011

art in public space: Merlion Hotel

I've been recently to Singapore which holds art biennale now in its 3rd edition. On this occasion, Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi created an installation around the 8.6-meter-tall Merlion turning it temporarily into a hotel where for the 80$ per night one can enjoy intimacy with the Singapore iconic landmark and a beautiful view over Marina Bay Sands. During the day people can visit the hotel, while each evening is for checked-in guests only. In this project public and private spheres overlap and bring citizens eye-to-eye with a monument that usually towers far overhead. Reservations for Merlion Hotel, which were available to the public for one month sold out within a day.

Merlion Hotel is part of the Berlin- and Tokyo-based artist's series of site-specific room installations that incorporate public landmarks. Merlion is the latest in the series which includes Villa Victoria (2002), a platial suite constructed around neoclassical marble and bronze monument dedicated to Queen Victoria in Liverpool, and Villa Kaihoutei (2005), an 85-squere-meter room encasing a gazebo in Yokohama Chinatown. Each work creates an alternative and more physically immediate perspective on the respective monument by juxtaposing public icons with the immediate setting of the bedroom.