Would you drink chye tow kueh out of a packet?

SINGAPORE- Drink up a packet of black carrot cake orchye tow kueh, at The Substation Gallery with hawker fare taking on a dystopian flavour this March.

The liquefied dish is but one of four dystopian hawkerdishes that diners can get a taste of at SAD: The Last Meal, an interactive art experience by collaborators chef Ming Tan, 32, and visual artist Debbie Ding, 34.

Commissioned by The Substation, SAD: The Last Meal is part of The Vanishing, or Time Goes Away- the final instalment of the arts centre’s year-long exploration of heritage, called Cities Change. People Die. Everything You Know Goes Away.

Mr Alan Oei, artistic director of The Substation, says the art experience will bring guests to a time where hawker food no longer exists.

“Hawkers have been around forever, but recently we’ve started to obsess and fear the loss of this culture,” he says.

During the one-hour dining experience, hawker food as Singaporeans know it will indeed cease to exist. Instead, iconic dishes such as chicken rice and laksa will take on different textures, forms and even ingredients.

These reimagined dishes are a response to issues facing the food industry, says chef Tan.

For instance, the blended black carrot cake, presented in a sealed plastic pouch, tackles the topic of efficiency.

“Sometimes you don’t have time to sit down and eat, and you want to have carrot cake on the go,” says chef Tan.

“Should we in the near future also realise that one uncle frying your carrot cake is horribly inefficient, as opposed to a factory where you can make these packets?”

Accompanying videos produced by Ding will also play on three screens before guests tuck into each of the four dishes, surrounding them with the manufactured sounds of knives chopping away and the sizzling of food frying.

The videos, which feature chef Tan preparing the normal versions of each dish, are meant to be a contrast to the dystopian meals served to guests.

“The importance of these sounds is the materiality and textures of the ingredients being processed, such as the fat frying. That is changed in the final version of the dishes that guests will eat,” says Ding.

“It’s about audiences’ expectations of food, and how it can deviate.”

While the dishes may take on an unfamiliar form, chef Tan hopes that diners will be able to step out of their comfort zones.

“These are versions of food that we can potentially have in the future. If I say that I’m not open to it, then I’m closing myself off to understanding how food may be in 50 years.”


WHERE: The Substation Gallery, 45 Armenian Street

WHEN: March 29 and 30, 7pm and 9pm

ADMISSION: $35, 40 participants per session

INFO: https://sadthelastmeal.peatix.com

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