For memory's sake, I chose not to break pots

For memory's sake, I chose not to break pots

My friends and I had arrived at the museum to break pots. But first, in true "auntie" fashion, we had to shop.

"Oh, so cute!" I squealed, picking up smooth, cream-coloured, lantern-shaped pottery from a display in the lobby.

The context: We were at the Peranakan Museum in Armenian Street for Taiwan-born, New York-based artist Lee Mingwei's interactive art installation.

Luminous Depths, on till Sept 22, invites museum visitors to buy ceramic pieces for $5 each. They are then to toss them into a netted funnel down a three-storey, sky-lit atrium. The entire exercise has a contemplative, elegiac and cathartic tone - conducted to the dramatic notes of Schubert's lieder, Night And Dreams.

My friend Ms F had bought a flying saucer-shaped specimen, I had bought a set of three (UFO, lantern, two inverted bowls stuck together), and Ms S had bought four (one to toss and three to take home). Clutching our precious cargo, we trooped upstairs to the third floor, to chuck them down and listen to them smash on the first floor.

Ms S went first. She took off her shoes, stepped up onto a rectangular platform, then aimed her pot through a large hoop above the drop. A slight smile played on her lips. A satisfying "ping" is heard as the pot lands on clay shards in the ceramic cemetery waiting below.

Then, it was Ms F's turn to divest herself of a new possession. Afterwards, all three of us peered over the balustrade. She pointed out where her pot lay, miraculously unbroken, amid its shattered compatriots.

They turned expectantly to me. "I'm not tossing mine," I said. Part of me felt bad that I wasn't getting into the spirit of things and participating properly in the artist's work. After all, the 5,000 pots made for the installation were simply by-products of the art - five prototypes modelled on artefacts in the museum.

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