Art Radar brings you 7 highlights not to miss during Singapore Art Week 2018.
Singapore Art Week 2018 runs from 17 to 28 January, concurrently with Art Stage Singapore, and presents a rich programme of events across the city.
The year is off to a busy start with the advent of Singapore Art Week. Held every year in January, the visual arts festival is now in its sixth edition and will run from 17 to 28 January 2018. The festival is capped by Art Stage, Singapore’s premier art fair, which will take place from 26 to 28 January at Marina Bay Sands. Prior to Art Stage, there is plenty to see and do. Over 60 galleries, museums and independent art spaces are opening their doors to the public and showcasing a mix of local, regional and international art.
What is excellent about Singapore Art Week is the variety of creative talent on view during this twelve-day celebration. Major institutions will already be showing blockbuster exhibitions, and it is worth noting that the Light to Night Festival: Colour Sensations will be held in the Civic District (an arts cluster that is home to National Gallery Singapore and Asian Civilisations Museum) in conjunction with Singapore Art Week. There are also smaller (and sometimes unconventional) art spaces that will be turning heads this year. See as much as you can, and let yourself be surprised. If you do not know where to begin, here are Art Radar’s picks for the 2018 Singapore Art Week.
1. “State of Motion: Sejarah-ku”
12 January – 11 February 2018
Titled after the Malay phrase for ‘my history’, “State of Motion: Sejarah-ku” presents an array of Malay-language films that were produced during the 1950s and 1960s – the years leading up to Singapore’s independence. The films present opportunities to re-encounter socio-political narratives that permeated society during the tumultuous post-war years, and reflect upon their implications on contemporary Singapore and Southeast Asia at large. To facilitate the dialogue between past and present, there will be mainland bus tours and offshore tours (via boats) to sites where some of the films were shot. The tours will also feature artworks and performances by several Singapore-based artists in response to the films, prompting an interdisciplinary audience engagement with the issues presented in the screenings.
2. “Kim Lim: Sculpting Light” — STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery
13 January – 3 March 2018
Arguably one of Singapore’s foremost female artists, Kim Lim lived and worked in Britain between the 1960s and 1980s. Her artistic career paralleled the rise of Minimalism in the United States and United Kingdom, and her practice was influenced by her travels in Asia. The late artist is best known for her elegant sculptures and prints, which are showcased in “Sculpting Light”. Drawing connections between Lim’s two-dimensional renderings and three-dimensional forms, the exhibition demonstrates her exploration of rhythm and movement in static materials such as stone and paper. “Sculpting Light” is Lim’s first major solo exhibition in Singapore since 1984. Though she enjoyed success in Britain, Lim has largely fallen through the cracks of art history. The strong presentation of her work at STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery is a chance to celebrate an artist who has crossed boundaries in her field, as a woman and a pioneer of Southeast Asian modern art, all the while remaining singular in her artistic vision.
3. “Accelerated Intimacy” by Sarah Choo Jing — Yeo Workshop
19 January – 3 March 2018
Emerging artist Sarah Choo Jing is captivating the imaginations of viewers with her visceral video installations. In “Accelerated Intimacy”, Choo transforms Yeo Workshop’s gallery space into a simulation of a hotel lobby. Combining video channels, photographic prints, objects and a functioning hotel lobby bar, she transports viewers into her realm of the hyperreal. Choo is known for crafting theatrically elusive narratives out of familiar spaces and cultural tropes. In “Accelerated Intimacy”, the characters in her videos exist within moody renditions of iconic hotel rooms in Singapore. Through her use of chiaroscuro and neon overtones, Choo transforms the recognisable spaces into alien territory in her videos. The flatness of the video projections are juxtaposed with the objects and bar in the gallery space, creating a multi-sensory experience.
4. “Melati Suryodarmo: Timoribus and Transaction of Hollows” — ShanghART
25 January – 20 March 2018
ShanghART will be highlighting the dexterity of Melati Suryodarmo by showcasing her multimedia artworks, “Timoribus”, alongside her performance, “Transaction of Hollows”. “Timoribus” will be on view for close to two months, though “Transaction of Hollows” will only take place on 25 and 26 January 2018. Suryodarmo is one of Indonesia’s most prominent visual artists and is best known for her durational performances. Having studied with Marina Abramović in Germany, where she currently resides, Suryodarmo is interested in themes related to identity, politics and the relationship between the body and its environment. In “Transaction of Hollows”, Suryodarmo will be shooting arrows into the walls of ShanghART’s gallery space in response to the politics of our time. “Timoribus” complements Suryodarmo’s live performance by expanding on her interests in the body and its relationship to fear. It will consist of photography, videography and video recordings of previous performance pieces.
5. “Games and Politics” — Kult Studio & Gallery
12 January – 12 February 2018
Contemporary art is continually expanding its reach into media previously unthinkable in the field. “Games and Politics” presents video games developed by artists/game developers who experimented with the gaming format as a means of stimulating political and social discourse. The games in this exhibition tackle topics such as immigration, gender and political ideology. Some of the video games describe political issues overtly through their narrative structures, while other games involve role play and are more experiential. For example, in Papers, Please, players take on the character of a border official and lose points when they allow an illegal immigrant into the country. In approaching gaming from a critical rather than a commercial position, the works in “Games and Politics” reflect upon the structures of mass market game development by exposing stereotypes and conditions of the game itself.
6. “Optimism is Ridiculous: The Altarpieces” by Natee Utarit — The Private Museum
24 January – 11 March 2018
A painter’s painter who is well-established in the Thai contemporary art scene, Natee Utarit continues to probe western art historical conventions in his body of work “Optimism is Ridiculous: The Altarpieces”. His work take the format of diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs: paintings that are divided into panels. Polyptychs were popular among early Renaissance painters, particularly in the creation of Catholic altarpieces. Marrying this religious tradition with imagery of what Utarit perceives as western culture and society, his paintings are satirical representations of modernism and capitalism. Utarit’s paintings evoke the absurd fascination with western culture, particularly in art history. They also highlight the reception of western art by a Southeast Asian artist who is disconnected from that history, yet impacted by the prominent role of the Renaissance in visual arts.
7. “RAID” — Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter
13 January – 3 February 2018
Organised by artists Daniel Chong and Zulkhairi Zulkiflee, the exhibition “RAID” features artworks by the two artist-organisers and fellow emerging artists Ivan Ng, Tay Ining, Vanessa Lim, Jacqueline Sim, Pooja Kanade and Nhawfal Juma’at. Transforming the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter into an exhibition space, these artists drew upon the history and architectural elements of the shelter to create their site-specific installations. Left untouched since its construction in 1939, the air raid shelter is dark, musty and dilapidated – a stark contrast to much of Singapore’s urban landscape, let alone the conventional gallery space. The relationship between the site and the artworks is symbiotic; they feed off each other to expand viewers’ perceptions of urban spaces in Singapore and the local art scene. Working outside the traditional model of an exhibition space, these eight young artists have re-energised a historical site and, in the process, brought attention to possible art spaces hidden in all corners of Singapore. “RAID” is one of several independent art projects that are springing up around the island, rivalling galleries and museum exhibitions with their daring willingness to create and exhibit art in unconventional ways in a country that values convention.
- A Midnight Moment: FX Harsono’s ‘Writing in the Rain’ at Times Square, New York – January 2018 – January 2018 – imes Square’s giant screens light up at midnight with FX Harsono’s video performance
- “Wild State of Mind”: Filipino artist Ronald Ventura at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York – January 2018 – Art Radar takes a look at the newest work from the 44-year-old, featuring animals, guns and hysterical parties
- Lebanese artist Rana Hamadeh wins Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2017 – January 2018 – a jury of six awards the artist for a new instalment of her ongoing opera project The Ten Murders of Josephine
- Curiosity and the role of the artist: Vietnamese artist and filmmaker Nguyen Trinh Thi – interview – December 2017 – Hanoi-based artist Nguyen Trinh Thi weaves stories about her home country, Vietnam
- “The Serenity of Madness”: Thai filmmaker and artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul – artist profile – September 2016 – Art Radar looks at the artist’s oeuvre presented in the show until 10 September, later featuring at Para Site in Hong Kong from 18 September 2016
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