Lancang Kuning, 2024

Outside Malay Heritage Centre

The Malay Heritage Centre, which opened in 2005, used to be Sultan Hussein’s Istana. As part of the Treaty of 1819, the British provided an Istana for the Sultan. Under the guise of road improvement, the British cut across his compound to curtail his influence. In 1999, the last 14 descendants of the Sultan residing at the Istana were forced to move out of their home as the government proceeded to redevelop the palace into a gallery, a painful event for members of the household. 

Chin reimagines the former Istana as a Lancang Kuning, a yellow Malay royal ship. In his metaphor, the ship appears whole, but will sink into the water. Chin’s proposal is to apply Gelam bark — that was traditionally used as caulking for the ships — across all the cracks along the boundary wall. Although his proposal is an ambiguous gesture of both restoration and recrimination, most of all, it marks the site as a vestige and symbol of Malay royalty. This persistent issue is not easily recuperated by either colonial and postwar administration: whose roads? whose Istana? and whose lands? 


Anthony Chin (b. 1969, Singapore) creates research-driven, conceptual works that grow out of site-responsive engagements with the historical, social, and architectural stratifications of a place. Through the articulation of ordinary materials into poetic installations or art objects, his works unravel the power structures and geopolitical narratives that undergird the colonial past and the post-colonial present.

He regularly presents his works in Singapore and abroad. Recent exhibitions include TROPHY, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines (2020) and SAM Contemporaries: Residues & Remixes, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2023). Anthony has also taken part in various residencies such as the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore’s Residencies programme (2023-24) and the National NAC-MET International Artist Residency, Manila, Philippines (2020).

Anthony Chin

Rejected artist proposal

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