by Kostas Ikonomopoulos
The mausoleum of a Muslim saint stands next to an elevated coastal expressway. The Latin-inscribed tombstones of Christian missionaries lay half-buried and forgotten between bungalows and a childcare center. A quarantine station and detention facility is turned into a series of dormitories for tourists. And then there is the improbable shrine to a German girl turned goddess of luck.
Remains is an unorthodox travelogue, a journey through graveyards, stations, and assorted remnants of Singapore’s past. It is also an effort to document locations and preserve stories in an island-city that shape-shifted from colonial backwater to glistening business hub at breakneck speed.
The book attempts a look at another Singapore, which is almost a neglected twin to the one everyone knows. It reconstructs a cultural past which is falling victim to a unique, if unavoidable, vanishing act; a past barely preserved in the form of faded gravestones, crumbling aluminum watchtowers, repainted barracks, barricaded hospitals, neglected theme parks and dismantled rail tracks.
At the same time, Remains is a meditation on the policies of development and heritage preservation and a deeply personal account of the history and the aesthetic appeal of the decayed, the forsaken and the bizarre in Singapore.
About the Author
Born in Greece in 1976. Kostas studied at Athens University and after being granted a state scholarship, he did postgraduate studies in Philosophy at the Manchester Metropolitan University. After completing his studies, he spent time with an NGO; fundraised in Scandinavia and did Development Work in a South African township for six months.
In late 2001, he returned to Greece to do his National Service. In 2003, he was in China, and spent seven years working mostly as a Project Manager, first for a small trading and outsourcing firm and then for a gaming multinational. In 2010, he moved to Singapore, where he has lived ever since, being employed in the science publishing field.
Two years ago, he became a Singapore Permanent Resident. Married and with a daughter, he has travelled quite extensively in the last 15 years, mostly in East and Southeast Asia. He has an enduring interest in cultural preservation, colonial architecture, derelict monuments and urban decay. Remains is his first book.
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Dimension: 145mm x 210mm