"Housed in two handsome colonial buildings that once served as the City Hall and the Supreme Court, the National Gallery of Singapore is an imposing presence in the civic district. Who is the audience for the US$400- million gallery? It appears mostly empty on the occasions I’ve visited; and weekend crowds seem to be bused in by grassroots organisers. I’m beginning to wonder if it even needs people. To be a ‘global city for the arts’ – I borrow the terminology from our government – our National Gallery is about historicising Singaporean art to a global audience. Therein lies the problem. Singapore’s art history, like its national history, is an invention necessitated by the fall of the British Empire. In the twentieth-century configuration of nationalism, originary cultures are the mythometres that give the nation-state legitimacy. Our art history – and thus our own cultural legitimacy – is projected outwards, not inwards."