BENDA (an object) is a pebble that flows the current but stays behind. It holds. It follows. It takes root. It grips. Benda shapes the district. Benda becomes the bodies. The remnants, the relics. Benda stares into the departed bodies and offers a folk melody.

Rampai means to mix. Bunga rampai is often made and given out during special occasions. Assortment of flowers and pandan leaves are shredded thinly, before added fragrance to be given out to guests. Merampai looks at the idea of destroying what is already deemed naturally beautiful to recreate something appealing yet temporary, while at the same time exploring what it means to hold on to tradition in this ever-changing urban landscape.

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Mysara Aljaru

Merampai, 2020

Cloth artwork dyed and embellished with paint and bunga rampai (potpourri)

Objects workshop at

Geylang Serai
with Geylang Serai Merchants


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Collaborating with participants and facilitating these workshops have been an interesting and enriching experience. Being able to work with the merchants of the Geylang Serai Market allowed me to hear for themselves, from their own eyes and experience, their relationship and personal connection to the place. Finding out that the merchants also grew up around the area was interesting and while it was unplanned at first, going to their shops to collect the items they had chosen definitely added to the whole experience.

- Mysara Aljaru


"You came back for me... you came back for me... the time you touched my body... I had a feeling you were leaving me…"

A colourful space, a diminishing space, a space to remember.

It has been intriguing working with varied groups of people we might never have a chance to.

Kow Xiao Jun

Benda, 2020


Dance film shot
at Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, Kinex


7 deposited objects by Geylang Serai Merchants


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Why are some of them okay with gifting their wares or items / tools despite the potential loss of income (especially during these tough times)?


  • We had set our minds on purchasing their items as a small gift / contribution to them, however when we asked for the price (to pay), some politely gestured and graciously said, Hadiah (gift), to which we felt we wanted to honour their intentions and not impose / force them to accept our payment.

  • Even more so for the loyang and timbang lama, items that they need in order to operate their stalls.

  • Perhaps it was altruism, sincerity, kindness, a for-the-people mindset that they believed in. 


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Documentarian Notes


Valerie Lim:

  • Was choosing the outline of space.

  • Playing with the lights and shadows.

  • Diagonal lines, because of strong painting.

  • Squares on the floor.

  • 2nd task:

    • Wanted to respond to the other side of the road, racing the cars.

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Collaborators for BENDA

Artist Collaborators

Mysara Aljaru

Kow Xiao Jun

Geylang Serai Merchants


Kedai Kueh: Kuih Talam, Level 2


Kedai Pisang, Level 1


Ali Pitchey

Kedai Sejadah & Rehal, Level 2



Kedai Telekung, Level 2


Cik BB

Dalar BB, Level 1



Al Barakat, Level 1 



Kedai Minyak Wangi, Level 1



Kedai Daun Pisang/Opeh/Ketupat, Level 1

+ Read more about them



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