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A printed sheet or pamphlet, usually containing an advertisement or Kansas City Metro Map other announcement, intended for wide distribution. Handfasting. A Scottish tradition of trial marriage. In Kansas City Metro Map handfasting, a couple agreed, before at least two witnesses, to live together for a year and a day. At the end of that period, if both were content with the marriage, or if the woman became pregnant, they would marry in the church or in a civil ceremony. Otherwise, they were free to separate.

Encountering the Elephant Parade: intersections of aesthetics, ecology and economy

Elizabeth Grierson RMIT University

Introduction: Encountering the elephants

It was a warm, wet, December day in 2011 as I walked along Singapore’s Orchard Road seeking to identify art’s presence in this highly commercialized, public setting. It was the time of the Elephant Parade Singapore, when 160 life-sized, designed, cast and decorated baby elephants were to be seen around Singapore. They were occupying street-sides and spaces outside Singapore’s mega department stores and malls, such as Paragon, C.K. Tang and Ion. A taste for luxury goods characterizes this area of Singapore’s central shopping mecca, with Prada, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuiton, Dior, Gucci and other elite, global, brands dominating the multi-level, consumer centres with their cathedral-like pillars, and vast, enticing, marbled foyers. At this time of year strings of twinkling blue lights activate Orchard Road at night lending a kind of eerie magic to the economic realities of the festive season. By day a tropical sun beats down on endless gatherings of hustling consumers and, in their midst, these aesthetic productions of a particular kind were making their presence felt. Along with other shoppers and tourists I encountered Free Spirit designed by Leona Lewis, E Happy by Ratchakirt Wichalyo, Starbust by Paul Smith, Raoul by Odile and Douglas Benjamin, and many other life-sized, fiberglass, baby elephants, variously designed and decorated. They were stationed at intervals along Orchard Road and elsewhere in Singapore, holding the attention of shoppers, workers and tourists, who would gather, photograph and disperse.

There was something captivating going on here. This chapter investigates what this something was. It brings together narratives of aesthetics with ecological and economic interests of globalized and urbanized culture. It examines the intentions of an entrepreneurial, city-based event that has come to fruition through significant partnerships between art and business, and the effects of such a partnership as a process of re-imagining place for city-dwellers. The setting for the subsequent discussion is twenty-first-century urbanization in context of the broader setting of economic globalization, in a world dominated by excessive consumption, fast economic transfers, reduced biological diversity and global uncertainties.

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