Kancil Mengadap Beringin
(The Mousedeer Comes Before the Banyan Tree)

Shooshie Sulaiman

From 20 March 2023
Lazarus Island
Public outdoor work.
Daily ferries with limited capacity will depart from Sentosa Jetty @Cove and Marina South Pier.


“To my Tenggara, mergastua, trees, flowers and all anak-anak bumi, we are all made of stories.”
—Shooshie Sulaiman

The Pohon beringin (banyan tree), also known as the tree of life, is considered a gateway between the material and unseen worlds. The tree’s lush crown of leaves and its unruly roots distil the spiritual essence of the sun’s nourishing rays and direct it deep into the earth. Continuously spreading its roots across the span of its life, the pohon beringin creates an underground network that disperses cosmic forces into the earth, opening up channels of communication with the supernatural. Shooshie Sulaiman views her artwork as a manifestation of kefahaman katulistiwa, or the lore of the equator. To know pohon beringin is to grasp the petanda, or cosmic sign, connecting all life in the universe. 

Sulaiman’s artwork is accompanied by a children’s storybook that illustrates the power of the pohon beringin. In the story, the mousedeer Sang Kancil and her friends—the tortoise, the porcupine and the frog—use the tree as a spiritual transmitter to convey the pleas of the coucal bird, But-But, to save her children. 



About the Artist

Shooshie Sulaiman’s practice is informed by the history of Southeast Asia, the culture of her homeland of Malaysia, as well as her personal memories and her own identity. An almost mystical air permeates Sulaiman’s oeuvre, which references myths, cosmology and folk tales. By applying diverse mediums and approaches such as drawing, collage, installation and performance, as well as natural materials from trees, soil and water that are native to the land, in her works, the artist informs viewers of the complex and inextricable relationship between human beings, nature and art.

Credits & Acknowledgement

This artwork was developed with the sustained involvement of many people and embodies the collaborative spirit of the artist’s practice. 

Collaborators for Pohon Mengadap Beringin:


  • Malay Heritage Centre, Nasri (curator)

Fabrication of wooden sculpture

  • Sugii Hayato (artist)
  • Ismail Rahim (architect)
  • Pakcik Minhad Ahmad (carpentry artisan)

Transplanting of banyan tree
Singapore team

  • June Yap (curator)
  • Annabelle Aw (coordinator)
  • IT Meng team (gardener): Aung San Oo, Emman, Mokvul Hossain, Phyo Phyo Wai, Etzel Seah

Transplanting of banyan tree
Malaysia team

  • Jenniffa’s Garden and Boo Kai Leng (garden coordinator)

Fabrication of kancil sculptures

  • I Wayan Darmadi (woodcarver)
  • Saharudin Supar (sculptor/mouldmaker)
  • Harum & Mat (cement works)

Children’s book:

  • Aida Arosoaie and Fatina Alfis (editorial)
  • Kenta (designer)
  • Siddra Melati (inspiration)

Kancil Beringin Mengadap was presented as part of Singapore Biennale 2022 named Natasha, 16 October 2022–19 March 2023. The Biennale is organised by Singapore Art Museum and commissioned by the National Arts Council with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.