DO NOT STEP ON THE CIRRUS CLOUDS are words lit within an arrow hoisted high and angled towards the sky. The installation is commissioned by National Art Council, in collaboration with local writer Alfian bin Sa’at, whose poem these words belong to. Set against the serene beach of the East Coast Park, the text piques a sense of sacred in the ordinary by spelling out a God-like command mid-air. The work’s surreal physicality brings to life the fantastical suppositions posed by Alfian’s poem, by instilling a sense of wonder in the everyday, while parodying the local government’s widespread implementation of “Do not ____” signs in various public spaces.
Why A Man Cannot Have Wings
Alfian bin Sa’at
Because he will crash land on his head, assuming it to be
The strongest part of his body.
Because someone will put up a sign that reads:
Do Not Step on the Cirrus Clouds.
Because it does not even take a man hundreds of feet above
Sea-level to learn contempt.
Because there will be new categories of handicaps: bow-wings,
Ostrich disease, scaly feathers, carousel flight syndrome,
Or at a freak show: The Amazing Wingless Wonder.
Because he will have a new weapon, gravity,
And everything he releases becomes a missile,
Even glass marbles, books, the fatal music box.
Because he is lonely enough without being able to
Frame the house he lives in between his forefinger and thumb.
Because then the sky will shed its metaphors of freedom
And become another path for him to carry his burdens.
Because there will be a popular form of suicide:
Flying into foreign airspace and being gunned down;
All it takes is a nose-tip to press an invisible blue button.
Because each death in mid-air, each comic comet plunge,
Will be another enactment of the fall of Man.
Because in concentration camps people will break wings
And use the feathers for quills to write sonnets
And pillow stuffing for innocent dreams.
Because he will have less to fantasize about, less of miracles
And the word ‘levitation’ will not exist.
Because there will be children who will empty their bladders
Under cloud cover in an attempt to make yellow snow.
And because he might get the wrong notion that he is closer
To heaven, when he has not even come to a mile
Within the presence of angels, despite the resemblance.