This past week, pedestrians passing the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore were happily surprised by periodic bursts of precipitation falling from a nearby Angsana tree. Many innocent passers-by gawked in wonderment, but those in the know recognized it as an art installation conceptualized and executed by Dutch-born artist Iepe B. T. Rubingh in conjunction with the first annual Singapore Biennale. Rubingh, known more familiarly as IEPE, says he uncovered the Singapore Miracle tree’s supernatural powers after ‘talking’ to it for three weeks. Inspired by traditional folklore, he believes that the rain from the tree cleanses one’s sins, cures diseases and acts as a kind of fountain of youth. Even without the rhetoric, we love the simple beauty and poetic imagery of a raining tree in an urban setting.
As part of the installation, IEPE went so far as to publicly strip down to his bare essentials to enjoy a shower, urging onlookers to do the same. While most adhered to the ‘no public nudity’ laws in Singapore, some devotees collected vials of ‘miracle’ water. Though IEPE has been coy in revealing the technical secrets of his installation, he does acknowledge the assistance of a ‘miracle’ team from Berlin and local specialists knowledgeable in ‘metaphysical issues’.
Image courtesy of Luke Tan