7 Highlights To Look Out For At The Singapore Biennale 2019
More than 77 artists and 150 works are showcased at the sixth edition of the Singapore Biennale, which runs till March 22, 2020. Organised by the Singapore Art Museum, this edition of the Biennale is helmed by artistic director Patrick Flores and themed Every Step in the Right Direction, which prompts audiences to consider the ways art can instigate thoughtful change.
Held at 11 various locations across the city, these are some of the highlights from this year's Biennale that spark interesting ways of transformation to get the conversation going.
1/7 Ways of self-reflection
First performed in 1999, contemporary Singaporean artist Amanda Heng's Let's Walk series not only served as the inspiration for this year's title, but is also making a comeback at the Singapore Biennale 2019 tracing the route from the Singapore Art Museum to the Esplanade Tunnel. By drawing upon the act of walking, Heng facilitates a workshop with participants to sparks moments of self-reflection, as well as one's attitude and acceptance towards the limits of the aging body.
Germany-based artist Verónica Troncoso invites gallery-goers at the National Gallery to reflect on the journey of migrant workers, as her newly-commissioned work, Telling stories from the outside and inside, archives and triggers a deeper inquisition into stories of migration and mobility across various individuals in Singapore.
Taking inspiration from the posthumous book by artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Greek artist Petros Moris brings a selection of body parts and parts of nature from the text to life through sculpture. Made from pieces of marble that were sourced from different parts of Greece, he responds to larger contrasting questions of nature and civilisation, personal and collective trauma, as well as the body and language through sculptural forms. See his works at the National Gallery.
2/7 Portrayal of the human experience
Gallery visitors will be able to get a glimpse of renowned composer Ryuichi Sakamoto's creative process at this year's Biennale, as he has come together with artist duo Zakkubalan to present a portrait of what goes on behind the scenes of his compositions. Expect to enter a darkened room at the National Gallery filled with ever-shifting ambient soundscapes and a familiar photographic montage, weaved with compositions from Sakamoto's solo album, Async.
3/7 Perception of politics
Malaysian artist Sharon Chin's Biennale-commissioned work hangs high in the atrium of the National Gallery this year. The fabric installation, which comprises 13 banners, each represent the different political ideologies from past Malaysian general elections. Together, they present a stark image of the nation's lived history while advocating for a larger political awareness and conversation to take place in the public sphere.
4/7 Reflection of our past
Homegrown artist Robert Zhao chronicled the history of the area surrounding Gillman Barracks at this edition of the Singapore Biennale through a collection of found objects, videos, and photography.
For the uninitiated, the present-day arts enclave used to be a rubber plantation before it was cleared and served as military barracks to the British in the late 1930s. Zhao's curation of items then includes an abandoned birds nest and video footage of a monitor lizard, all found and documented from the secondary forest next door, that speaks to the historical narrative of the area.
(Related: Two Artworks By Gen.T Honourees Speak Cryptic And Robert Zhao On Display For Singapore Bicentennial)
5/7 Effects of war and migration
Haifa Subay is a Yemini street artist who portrays the devastating effects of war in her work, drawing from her own experiences of witnessing the armed conflict in her country since the Arab Spring. Instances of civilian casualties from landmines, domestic violence, and child recruitment are painted on to nine murals at the National Gallery, in hopes of giving a voice to the victims and those stuck in the threshold of war.
6/7 Portrayal of the modern and contemporary
Filipino-American visual artist Carlos Villa's works deal with the theme of cultural diversity explored through a mix of materials that are weaved together to present a multimedia series. Together, these works also serve as a broader reflection on modernism and the post-colonial in contemporary art.
Fellow Filipino-American artist, Alfonso Ossorio, will also have his works showcased at this year's Biennale. Titled Congregations, this collection assembles various objects to form a visual representation of personal history and philosophical reflections on matter and spirit.
Works by both artists can be found at the National Gallery.
(Related: 5 Minutes With… Song-Ming Ang, Venice Biennale Artist)
7/7 Effects of architecture
London-based artist Céline Condorelli has created multiple "support structures" around the exhibition spaces at the National Gallery, in hopes of creating a unique way for audiences to encounter the art in the Biennale. Spatial Composition 13 then invites the public to sit on the colourful artwork that resembles deck chairs—furniture that you would typically find in parks, boats, and associated with spaces of leisure—to contemplate the varied material surrounding them at that moment.
Located at the National Gallery, Boedi Widjaja's site-specific installation is part of a series that he started in 2017 named Black—Hut. It explores themes of belonging and the act of dwelling through architecture, thus inviting viewers to witness it from all angles and its relation to the space it is situated at.