‘[…] and it all makes good business sense.
why would he mind
when he has an expensive Braille for the colour blind.

why would he mind
That he is planting and staring at
sunflowers with the colours of shadow.

and why would I mind
if the sun is reduced to nothing
but your pragmatic ceiling light.’

Excerpted from ‘Another Deal’ in Critique of a Spectacular Life by Chien Swee-Teng (Singapore: Recto Books, 1989, p.351)

This project is based on a poem by local writer, Chien Swee-Teng. The poem is about the common tale of a sunflower plantation owner’s pact with an imp who lived in an empty bottle of sunflower oil, for success in his trade. However, unlike most of these stories, where a person offers his or her soul in exchange for favours, the imp gave the protagonist a really good Faustian bargain, asking for something minor yet consequential: to be blind to the colour of his trade. In this scenario, the poem relates the reader to Little Mermaid’s decision of being mute, in order to be human; and thus, the view of the vomiting Merlion, the poet encounters every evening on his way to work, at Shenton Way.

In this project, vertical submarine attempts not only to ‘translate’ the poem by presenting the visual phenomenon of ‘grey sunflowers’ amongst the greenery. The act of ‘turning the flowers to the colour of their shadows’ also aims to direct the viewers’ attention, purely, to the form and colour of sunflower, like a pencil drawing, through the very absence of its colour.

Installation. Dimensions variable