Siapa Nama Saya?

Siapa Nama Saya? is part of a series of artwork by artist Green Zeng that examines issues of history and identity in Singapore. In this painting, the artist has depicted three school uniforms with the phrase “What is my name?” repeated above each set of clothing in Malay, Chinese and English. The work alludes to Singapore’s multi-cultural society and invites the viewer to take on an active role in questioning not just their own identity as anindividual, but their identity in relation to their ethnicity and nationality.The reference to the classroom setting in this work is also significant. Together with the title of this painting, Siapa Nama Saya?, Zeng connects his work with an iconic painting by one of Singapore’s pioneer artists Chua Mia Tee, titled National Language Class (1959). Chua’s painting portrays a class of students from different linguistic, ethnic and class backgrounds learning the Malay language. Depicted on the chalkboard at the back of the classroom are the phrases, “Siapa nama kamu?” and “Di mana awak tinggal”, which mean “What is your name?” and “Where do you live?” respectively. At the time, the Malay language had been newly designated as the national language of multi-ethnic Singapore, and till this day is one of the four official languages of Singapore. Students then were also actively engaged in determining the future of their country.Inspired by Chua’s visual representation of the nationalistic fervour of the 1950s, Siapa Nama Saya revisits the idea of identity, language and its significance in the context of Singapore’s multi-cultural society, at the same time reminding viewers of the historical events that took place in the 1950s when Singapore was still a young nation wrestling with issues of identity and governance.

Artist Name
Green Zeng
Date/Period
2012
Region
Singapore
Dimension
Object size: 122.0 x 244.0 x 4.0 cm
Accession No.
2014-01360
Material
Oil and silkscreen on wood panel
Collection of
Singapore Art Museum
Category
Paintings