The publication is produced on the occasion of a group exhibition of the same title held in Singapore Art Museum in Singapore from August to October 2007.
From Words to Pictures: Art During the Emergency focuses on Singapore during the 1950s when many of the artworks were expressions of 'Malayan culture'. Although this exhibition looks at art in the fifties through examining two art societies, the Singapore Art Society and the Equator Art Society, their contrasts are not intended to be read it in a binary vein that neglects the complex traditions of representing the Nanyang, individual aesthetic expressions and various alignments of political and cultural interests. This exhibition attempts to map diverse ideas and constituencies with colliding and overlapping interests and values, united only by their common desire for political and cultural vibrancy through 'Malaya', a term which represented new political formations as well as cultural traditions.
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