OH Open House
A while ago I received an intriguing email from OH Open House. I participated once before in one of their events and had good memories of it.
(You can read all about that cultural art walk here.)
Teasers for The Bizarre Honour
Here is some of the information that was given beforehand:
There also was talk of a Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities, which I’m a huge fan of. So I was game -immediately- and bought tickets for Frits and myself.
When the date neared we got more mysterious info:
And this text:
Questions, questions… It’s a mystery…
It made me wonder what I signed up for. What is The Bizarre Honour? Is it really a secret society? A museum that’s normally closed to the public? Is it a performance? An art installation? Fact or fiction?
Only half an hour for quite a hefty price. Would it be worth the money?
This video about the Bizarre Honour did not answer my questions:
UPDATE: February tickets have been released!For the seekers of untold stories – The Bizarre Honour is one of the oldest and most secretive natural history societies in Singapore. In collaboration with OH! Open House, they have opened their doors to the public for the first time ever. There are no guides, no labels, no explanations. All you will be given is a personal companion book comprising memos, photographs and other classified information to decipher the exhibits. An immersive encounter in a maze-like museum that blurs the line between art and artefact, wonder and unknowing, awaits.The museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from 13–22 Jan. Book your experience now at www.thebizarrehonour.com.Video by Johann YaminMusic: March of the Mind by Kevin MacLeod
Posted by OH! Open House on Wednesday, January 4, 2017
The video about the Companion Book looked promising:
At the end of an immersive encounter, you will bring home a green box of documents. Call it what you want – a dossier, a catalogue, a scrapbook or a limited edition hand-assembled artist publication – it is meant to be a companion to The Bizarre Honour. Use it to unlock the meaning of the museum's precious artefacts and obsessive collections.Each 30-minute private appointment includes the 80-page companion book and costs $45 per person.Book your appointment here: www.thebizarrehonour.com
Posted by OH! Open House on Tuesday, January 24, 2017
The Bizarre Honour says: no distractions, just be in the moment
Just before the actual date, we received a message, saying that before entering The Bizarre Honour we had to leave our phones, cameras and even watches in a locker.
I was disappointed, since I always take pictures for my blogposts, so I asked if it would be possible to make an exception so that I could bring my camera anyway.
OH’s reply came fast and was extensive. They really made an effort to explain to me why they could not allow that, and I understood. Open House also kindly offered to let me use some of their own pictures for my blog.
How it went down
Charming Chip Bee Gardens
So last sunday we went to an address in Chip Bee Gardens, an enclave with a special history and architecture near Holland Village.
One of the cute two-storey terraced houses seemed to have been transformed into The Bizarre Honour.
Discovering The Bizarre Honour
In the front garden we stumbled straight away upon the expedition tricycle that was mentioned in one of the emails that we received. We were told it was a replica.
Also in the front garden we saw a contraption hanging from a tree. This turned out to be an insect-catcher, able to catch and hold exactly 1.000 insects. (Funny, that precise number of 1.000…)
We were handed over a big torchlight and a battery-operated hand-fan (highly needed when you go out in the jungle as the explorer that you are….or when you make your way through smallish, not-airconditioned spaces in a two-storey house)
And off we went.
Inside the house
Potted palms positioned strategically here and there, forced us to ‘wade’ through them to get from one (part of the) room to the other, enhancing the jungle-explorer-experience.
Both floors of the house were chock full with all sorts of ‘stuff’. Old pictures on the walls as well as in piles and albums on desks and tables. Numerous animal traps of all sorts and sizes. A slideshow here and a microscope there.
Small animals on formaldehyde, taxidermy, orchids on display, a room filled with live crickets… It felt like we were wandering through the house and workspace of a cultural anthropologist, biologist or researcher who had just left his house for a quick lunch or something.
The Companion Books definitely have the WOW-factor
On the second floor we found the Companion Books with our handwritten names on a card.
We had a quick glance inside, but only really opened them at home. OMG, I was and am so impressed.
The luxury box and its contents are from the highest quality. Beautifully made, with lots of information inside.
The Bizarre Honour by OH and why I loved it!
- I love Wunderkammers. Sometimes I refer to my own house and to small niches and nooks in my house as Cabinets of Curiosities.
- I love how the artist/makers created an atmosphere and concept and stuck to that, from the first promotions to the email that we received after the event. That’s what I call ‘staying in character’.
- I often feel and operate like a cultural anthropologist. Meaning that I wander around, even in my own neighbourhood, with my eyes wide open, with a curious mind and with my camera in hand. Ready to be amazed and surprised. Often by the little things. The Bizarre Honour had the same spirit. Explore, learn, discover, be amazed and surprised. Let your eyes and mind work.
- Such a fun and cool idea to mix fact and fiction, making you constantly wonder if what you’re seeing or reading is true or not. E.g.: I thought that the part about the fulgurites (sand that forms into hard shapes after being hit by lightning) was fake, but Googling afterwards I found it to be true.I also thought that the part about Coconut Pearls was fake and that indeed seems to be a hoax. Googling stuff afterwards, and thus widening and deepening your experiences and observations is something I do all the time, so again: the Bizarre Honour was totally up my alley.
- The Companion Book is amazing. It’s a beautiful memory/continuation of the Bizarre Honour and it’s definitely a collectors item.
I needed more time to explore and dig deeper
The only thing that I did not like was the duration. I thought that half an hour was too short. An hour would have been better. Probably because I’m someone who likes to take my time, go into details and dig deeper.
But other than that: great job, OH.
OH Open House organises various events regularly. They have several guided walks at the moment, e.g. in Holland Village and in Chip Bee Gardens.
Their activities are sure to provide you with a unique experience. Small groups make it personal, knowledgable guides and different, interesting content. Highly recommended!
Find out more on their website here.