With every art exhibition I go to, I always look forward to personal reflections that will follow. And so this Chinese New Year, I went AWOL for a bit (sorry guys!) but with a good reason – I went on a trip down south to visit friends and relatives for CNY, and also to visit the Singapore Biennale 2013 which was happening from 26 October 2013 to 16th February 2014.
Biennales are large exhibitions that are held every 2 years. And what I love about large art exhibitions is that they feature the work of many artists all packed into one place, although it may not be technically be in the same building. This can be due to the size of the installations, and the nature of it (whether it’s an outdoor, indoor; whether it needs for a more complex mechanism to run it, etc).
For Singapore’s 2013 Biennale, the exhibitions were spread out across the Bras Basah area, with one installation at Taman Jurong. There were 82 artists whose work were spread out across the venue, and Mr. T and I had so much fun tracking them all down with the help of the guidebook (it came with the entry ticket) that documented each and every work available. I loved the variety of the artists work shown this year, and I wanted to share some of my favorites:
Shieko Reto’s Waiting Room installation featured paper cut outs that mimic the waiting room of a slightly seedy transgender/cosmetic surgery waiting room through illustration. It echoes the many episodes of “waiting” that they have to undergo (family’s acceptance, confirmation of regular employment, and even into society). The social messages are further spread by the zines and pamphlets that Shieko illustrated herself, and forms a big part of the installation in its entirety.
Eko Prawoto’s Wormhole is a grand installation made out of bamboo that punctuates the front of the National Museum of Singapore. Resembling a series of mountains, it’s a landscape that Prawoto is familiar with in his homeland of Indonesia, and yet alien to Singapore. Wormhole refers to the theoretical opening of a galaxy which allows one to traverse through time and space, as well as the insignificant passage through earth created by a burrowing earthworm. One is invited into the Wormhole, and in turn, are made to feel as though they’re part of the landscape – we are the worms. Through a glimpse of the outside world through the clouds and sun above, it offers shelter and respite, and a complete sensory experience from the modern world outside.
Jainal Amambing’s experience of growing up in a Rungus longhouse in Kudat, Sabah is illustrated in a collection of artworks entitled My Longhouse Story. Bold, bright and filled with textures, these paintings seem to also belong among the pages of a children’s book. There’s mischief and adventure, with sidekicks and pets thrown in for good measure.
Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salina’s Urban Play is a series of interventions in public spaces that the artists have devised by using the element of play to connect communities and individuals to respond to specific problems. Their work is one of my favorites! Although not an installation, their ideas were expressed mainly through various videos taken of their project, which took place in different places around Indonesia and Singapore. One example of this was how they started a ball of trash (I’m not kidding!) by taping all sorts of wrappers, tins, paper, etc with tape and got the community to participate by picking up the trash around their neighbourhood to add to this ball. It snowballed to a size of a van or a small truck! And the best part was how they rolled the ball on its journey through the small streets and eventually, rolled it onto a busy road, as if it had a life of its own. It was fantastic and inspiring on so many levels – particularly if you’re living in places where civic consciousness isn’t as far along as it should be; especially when trash is a glaring by-product of such an environment.
I also appreciated how the information was presented, especially the artists statement – which was done professionally (with I assume was done with the help of a copywriter/writer). It was brief and simple to understand, and really gave great context to a work that might otherwise not have been understood easily. There’s nothing worse (at least in my eyes!) than trying to decipher big words which can alienate people from understanding art.
Here’s our route (plus tips!):
- We bought the tickets at Singapore Art Museum (SAM), and immediately went to work there first. The Biennale was organized by SAM, so this is where most of the installations were located. The ticket also stated that entry to SAM and SAM at 8Q is only allowed on the day of ticket purchase.
- Next up we headed down the road to SAM @ 8Q. Then we walked past Waterloo Centre, before heading to the National Library to check out the installations there.
- Since we split our visit into 2 days, the next day we went to the National Museum of Singapore. The Biennale ticket allowed us entry to the permanent exhibitions within the places that held the installations, so we took some time to visit other exhibitions not associated with the Biennale. We also walked past Singapore Management University and Fort Canning Park too (which only held about 1 – 2 installations). Our last stop was at Peranakan Museum. The ones that we didn’t manage to visit were the installations at Tank Road and Our Museum @ Taman Jurong.
The Biennale is held from 26 October 2013 to 16th February 2014 (which means that this is the last week to catch it!), so if you haven’t made the tour already, I suggest you hop on over!
For more information, visit the Singapore Biennale website at www.singaporebiennale.org/.
SHARE WITH ME:
Have you paid the Singapore Biennale 2013 a visit? Which artwork or installation was your favorite, and why? If there’s a large exhibition that has created a deep impression, do share with us too in the comments below!
Image credits: select images of Shieko Reito, Eko Prawonto, and Jainal Amambing’s work were taken from the Singapore Biennale website.