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A block of flats in Jalan Batu got prettied up last night by artist Lee Wei Lieh, with the help of coloured vinyl film and Blu Tack. Photo: Very Small Exhibition

No Blood Moon, But One Estate Got Treated To A Nocturnal Rainbow

Sian, no Super Flower Blood Moon last night (26 May) cuz of cloud cover.

But, hey, if you stay in the Jalan Batu neighbourhood (in Mountbatten, along the Geylang River), you might have been one of the lucky ones to seek consolation from and be wowed by an eye-catching installation that took place in the stairwell of a block of HDB flats there last night.

As fleeting as a rainbow itself, the multicoloured piece of performance art by Very Small Exibition (a one-man show by 43-year-old freelance designer and adjunct polytechnic lecturer Lee Wei Lieh) was aptly titled "Very Momentary Exhibition", and was put up and taken down in just a few hours.

If you missed it, here's a timelapse video of the first time he performed this piece at Jalan Batu to give you an idea of the process:

"I do treat every installation of Very Momentary Exhibition like a performance," says Wei Lieh, who explains that the pieces are not site-specific.

"I try not to seek out locations to execute the installation; I allow the spaces I encounter in my daily life to speak to me. When I come across a location, it needs to inspire me," says the artist who adheres coloured vinyl film over existing light fixtures using Blu Tack, giving the light source a vibrant tint.

"Secondly, I need to be able to envision the transformation and how that will interact with the surroundings. Lastly, I have to consider whether the installation is manageable and if it will cause any inconvenience to others. Then I'll proceed with some testing before the actual installation."

We spoke to Wei Lieh about the birth of this really special and enchanting endeavour, and whether it's even, um, legal.

A split-screen image showing the Tanjong Rhu Lookout Tower before and after it receives Wei Lieh's magic many-hued touch.Photo: Very Small Exhibition
The trippy top-down view of the stairwell inside the Tanjong Rhu Lookout Tower.Photo: Very Small Exhibition

Before we gush over your nocturnal rainbows, tell us what Very Small Exhibition is and how it came about.

Very Small Exhibition started as an art collective of three friends. We started out by renting a very small retail space in Shaw Tower, where we create art installation exhibitions as well as running calligraphy classes. After a year, I became the only one running it as the other two partners decided to focus on their other businesses.

Your one-man shows are so darn pretty and mesmerising and Instagrammable, but they take place in the middle of the night when everyone is at home or asleep, and you take them down after a few hours. Why liddat!

I had this idea of wanting to create a rainbow bridge since 2016/17, but it was only early this year then I had the time to expand the initial idea, research and experiment with different materials, and execute it.

I only wanted to realise the ideas and document them. I didn't apply for any official permit as it is a tedious process. Thus, doing this late night and making it short-lived will ensure that I don't disturb others or received complaints.

Moreover, the actual real-life rainbows in the sky are short-lived and pop out of nowhere too!

Wah, can the overhead bridge at Mountbatten Road along Geylang River remain forever festive like this?Photo: Very Small Exhibition

What kind of reactions have you received from passers-by?

I have people asking me if I have permission to do what I am doing, but knowing that the piece will be removed after a few hours, they just walk away. 

There was once an old uncle who walked pass and commented "very nice", and suggested to just keep the installation up.

What do you hope people who catch your process take away from it?

I don't really give much thought about how my audience should react or what they should take away from these installations. It's really up to individuals.

How can one not feel happy looking at this: Lee Wei Lieh might just have found the answer to turn our dreary days into neon nights.Photo: Very Small Exhibition

What has creating this series taught you about yourself and about Singapore and Singaporeans?

As long we are not causing any harm to others as well as public property, it's worth the risk to try things out.

What’s next for Very Small Exhibition?

As long I am not asked by the authorities to stop, I will continue installing Very Momentary Exhibition in different parts of Singapore, at least till the end of this year.

There might be other exhibitions - just watch out for announcements on Facebook and Instagram.

Expect more eye-catching projects from Very Small Exhibition - but catch them if you can!Photo: Very Small Exhibition

Has there been an occasion when you were not able to complete your work?

I was stopped once by security when I was doing some testing at Singapore Sports Hub. I just took everything down, and was requested to leave some personal details. After that, I tried to contact Sports Hub through email, but received no reply.

From my perspective, there is nothing wrong with what I'm doing. But how others or Singapore's law enforcement sees it is really up to them.

If you're lucky, your covered walkway could get positively prismatic like this one!Photo: Very Small Exhibition

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