2007 – It was a time when the demolition of many buildings and urban spaces around Singapore was carried out in the name of ‘upgrading’. Alongside this, questions of ‘urban identity’ were being bandied about and the idea of ‘benchmarking’ Singapore to other global cities was a topic of interest in the urban development circles.
News articles and private conversations questioned the wisdom of such actions and discussions as many lamented the loss and lack of attention to the spaces that were already special to many, however banal it may seem to the naked eye. We at FIVEFOOTWAY wondered if there was a common thread that connected all of these spaces and set out to uncover places around the city that held memories and emotional treasures for each one of us. We called these: ‘magical spaces’.
20 black notebooks were passed around to our networks with a simple instruction: share with us your ‘magical space’ in the pages in any format that you see fit. Then pass along the notebook to someone else who you know also has a ‘magical space’ to share with us.
After a couple of months, we collected these notebooks back and were pleasantly surprised at what we received. There were anecdotes, sketches, photographs, and artworks of all kinds of ‘magical spaces’. Some of these spaces were extremely private and domestic; some were public spaces; some were imaginary, mental spaces; but despite their variety of sizes and type, all of the submissions showed a deep relationship between person and place. Beyond how it looks or where it was, it was the human connection that made these spaces, ‘magical’.
In October 2007, we exhibited all the notebooks at The Asylum (Singapore), and invited contributors and general public to continue adding to the notebooks. Thanks to the support of BasheerGraphics Books, we were also able to produce a commemorative book which featured selected entries and accompanying essays on the topic.