Southeast Asia is hot according to this year’s edition of the Singapore Biennale.
Singapore Biennale 2013: “If the World Changed” is on view from 26 October 2013 to 16 February 2014 at various venues throughout the city. The large-scale exhibition features the dynamic art that is happening throughout Southeast Asia.
The fourth edition of the Singapore Biennale, established in 2006, takes place from 26 October 2013 to 16 February 2014 and is organised by the Singapore Art Museum. Curated by a team of 27 curators, the Singapore Biennale 2013: “If the World Changed” focuses on Southeast Asian and Asian art. The exhibition includes more than 80 artists from 13 countries and the works are spread throughout Singapore in various venues, such as Bras Basah-Bugis Precinct, Singapore Art Museum, SAM at 8Q, National Museum of Singapore, The Peranakan Museum, National Library Building, Fort Canning Park and Waterloo Centre.
According to the press release, the theme “If the World Changed” refers to how people in Southeast Asia are “increasingly active participants in current globalising movements.” Focusing on “artists [who] have been reflecting, mediating, envisioning, and making propositions”, the exhibition is an “invitation to reconsider the world we live in, and the worlds we want to live in.”
Art Radar takes a look at ten art works from the exhibition.
Adrian Ho is inspired by the jungles of Borneo, yet horrified by the massive deforestation caused by the expansion of oil palm plantations. He often makes quick sketches, drawings, photos and notes from his observations of the landscape, and then creates paintings based on his findings.
For the Biennale, Boo Junfeng created a music video to highlight the political formation of Malaysia in 1963, when Singapore (along with Sabah and Sarawak) merged with the Federation of Malaya. However, the tumultuous union ended in 1965, when Singapore became an independent city-state. Boo’s video imagines a Singapore which is still part of Malaysia, questioning how different Singapore and its people might be in that scenario.
Chi Too photographs and video-records himself balancing a carpenter’s level on his head. He stood at various historically significant locations in Singapore to encourage the viewers to think about their own knowledge of each place. At the Biennale, Chi Too invites the audience to enter a small, empty room and attempt the level balancing act.
Eko Prawoto‘s Wormhole consists of three bamboo mounds in front of the National Museum of Singapore. The installation resembles a range of mountains, a landmark which is familiar in Indonesia but alien to Singapore. Inside the installation, clouds can be seen through the skylights, and the smell of the bamboo helps to recall collective memories of a rural past.
Grace Tan‘s site-specific installation of industrial materials creates a glowing, landscape-like form. The installation also reacts to the ultraviolet light source emitted by the overhanging Crystal Palace installation by Ken and Julia Yonetani.
Ken + Julia Yonetani‘s Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations was created in response to Japan’s nuclear disaster in 2011. The installation includes 31 chandeliers, which have been refitted with uranium glass and UV lighting to create an eerie green light. The 31 pieces signify the 31 nuclear nations of the world, and the size of each chandelier corresponds to the number of operating nuclear plants in that nation.
Hazel Lim worked with sixty students from five secondary schools as part of the Singapore Biennale’s Artists-in-Schools programme. Over six months, they visited the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Dairy Farm Nature Park, Labrador Nature Park, MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, documenting the diverse botanical, insect and animal life in these areas through a series of sketches, which culminated in the paintings on porcelain plates.
Joo Choon Lin creates interactive works to explore how various technologies affect our sensory experience of things and how it also affects our psychological and emotional feelings. In I Only Make Friends with Money viewers are encouraged to throw coins into a reservoir of blue synthetic goo, which slowly submerge and disappear.
Lee Wen uses old currency notes from Southeast Asian nations and dried leaves, along with other biodegradable materials, to signify the regional obsession with development and economic progress. Lee’s sculpture and performance of the paper lantern mimics the Asian practice of releasing paper lanterns into the sky.
Shirley Soh collaborated with inmates from Changi Women’s Prison to create works by sewing their concerns on pieces of linen, forming a collective tableau. The artwork is installed at the Peranakan Museum, hanging together with objects from the matriarchal Peranakan world.
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