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Opening Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Finance at the ‘Art to the Moon’ Event on 14 March 2022, at Nanyang Technological University

14 Mar 2022

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good afternoon to everyone.

2. It’s a great pleasure to be here today to celebrate the feature of two locally designed and built artworks in the World’s first extra-terrestrial art gallery. Aptly named the Moon Gallery, the gallery is currently orbiting Earth in the International Space Station and will next head to the moon and arrive there by 2025, where the artworks will be permanently exhibited. This is an exciting milestone in the arts and science realms, and I congratulate Singaporean artist and designer, Lakshmi Mohanbabu for this remarkable achievement. 

About the Moon Gallery

3. Lakshmi’s art piece is among the 100 artworks selected by the Moon Gallery Foundation, which is a non-profit cultural organisation based in the Netherlands. In collaboration with Nanoracks, powered by Voyager Space, the first off-planet art gallery, installed inside a Nanoracks Nanolab, was successfully launched into space in February 2022.

4. The Moon Gallery is a collaborative artwork that aims to develop a culture for future interplanetary society, with ideas from an international community, all within a tiny petri-dish-like gallery with big ambitions. Represented by artists from Asia, Europe, America and Africa, it is hoped that the gallery will spark new connections and inspire new collaborations between the creative and artistic sectors and the space and technology sectors.

About the Artist and Her Artwork

5. Decades ago, having an art gallery on the moon seemed almost unimaginable, improbable even. However, today, space is humanity’s next frontier. The Moon Gallery and Lakshmi’s artworks exemplify that. 

6. Having spent a significant part of her childhood in Afghanistan before coming to Singapore 20 years ago, Lakshmi’s background and exposure to diverse cultures has considerably influenced her work. Through her unique perspective, she is able to use art to connect with people from all walks of life, ethnicities, and beliefs. 

7. Working with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster – or NAMIC, in short – Lakshmi translated her art into two cubes for the Moon Gallery: the “Cube of Interaction” and the “Structure & Reflectance” cube.  

8. NTU scientists led by Associate Professor Daniel New from the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing developed a prototype and helped to fabricate the “Cube of Interaction”, while Lakshmi found synergies with NTU Assistant Professor Matteo Seita – an interdisciplinary material scientist who also studies additive manufacturing – to create the “Structure & Reflectance” cube.

9. Through the intricately designed 3D-printed cubes, Lakshmi and the scientists in NTU present a unique perspective through the fusion of art and technology. The collaboration is also a good example of how Singapore’s scientists have advanced technology to create new materials and techniques in additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing.

Advances in Additive Manufacturing

10. Since NAMIC was established six years ago, it has supported over 240 initiatives in various industries, including healthcare, marine offshore, aerospace and the construction sector. 3D-printing has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade and will play a major role in the future of distributed manufacturing and digital trade. For example, 3D-printing in emerging industries such as cellular agriculture and space technology can be a key enabler in strengthening Singapore’s position as a leading trade and advanced manufacturing hub. 

11. Advances in additive manufacturing will also aid Singapore’s push towards a circular economy with its use of recycled materials and enable local production ecosystems with on-demand manufacturing. Such technology will contribute to a sustainable living environment in Singapore, and create a vibrant and liveable city in the decades to come.

Singapore’s Art Scene

12. Multi-disciplinary artworks like Lakshmi’s also contribute to Singapore’s vibrant art scene. In Singapore, the National Heritage Board and National Arts Council have put in a lot of effort to make art more accessible and attractive to the wider community. This has transpired into greater awareness and interest in arts as well as the growth of museums and commercial galleries over the past few decades. These museums preserve our artistic heritage, help us better appreciate where we come from, and allow us to discover new perspectives of who we are. 

13. Like other global cities, Singapore’s multicultural identity and rich history can also be reflected in our everyday living spaces. We will further explore how we can revitalise our neighbourhoods and the public spaces around Singapore through the arts and placemaking.

14. Singapore is proud to contribute our part for this permanent gallery on the Moon. I am confident that Lakshmi’s success will inspire our next generation of youth, cultivate their interest in arts and science, and encourage more achievements in multi-disciplinary fields. 

15. In closing, I would like to congratulate the team from the Moon Gallery on this first step to space, to Ms Lakshmi, Associate Prof New and Assistant Prof Seita, on their artefacts successfully making it to the International Space Station. I wish you all the very best for this endeavour and look forward to more stories of inspiring interdisciplinary collaborations in the future.

16. Thank you all very much.