Singapore Biennale 2011 (SB2011): first artists and major commissions

Singapore Biennale 2011The curatorial team of Singapore Biennale 2011 (SB2011), the country’s largest international contemporary visual arts exhibition, today announced the first artists to be presented in next year’s event (from 6 March to 8 May 2011).

Enhancing Singapore’s growing reputation as a significant centre of contemporary art regionally and internationally, the Singapore Biennale is a critical platform for collaborations and dialogues about the state of contemporary art today, involving a diverse range of artists living and working across the world. The initial group of artists to be announced for SB2011 are: Elmgreen and Dragset (born Denmark and Norway; lives and work in London and Berlin), Ceal Floyer (born Pakistan, lives and works in Berlin), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born
Mexico, lives and works in Montreal), Tatzu Nishi (born Japan, lives and works in Berlin), Arin Rungjang (born Thailand, lives and works in Bangkok), Charles Sandison (born Scotland, lives and works in Tampere), Shooshie Sulaiman (born Malaysia, lives and works in Kuala Lumpur), Tan Pin Pin (born Singapore, lives and works in Singapore), Ming Wong (born Singapore, lives and works in Berlin) and Goto Design (born Japan and Taiwan, live and work in New York). All ten will be developing new works for Singapore.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer develops large-scale interactive installations that are at the intersection of architecture and performance art. Using temporary architecture Tatzu Nishi transforms our relationship to public sculpture. Ceal Floyer uses double-takes and shifting points of view to invite the viewer to renegotiate their sense of perception. Ming Wong’s video works refashion classic cinema from around the world to explore the shifting nature of identity and belonging; and film-maker Tan Pin Pin, is best known for her incisive Singapore-focused documentaries. Elmgreen and Dragset are internationally renowned for their witty and evocative sculptures and installations that critique power structures in public and private life. Charles Sandison projects digitally animated words onto architecture illuminating qualities of the particular site, its use or history. Both Arin Rungjang and Shooshie Sulaiman in different ways create site-specific works that invite reflection upon the intersection between personal experience and larger social forces. Goto Design are best known for their creative partnerships with artists. For SB2011 they have been invited to work as collaborators with the curatorial team. Their first contribution has been the development of a visual identity for the Biennale responding to the idea of “Open House”.

Based on the conceptual framework provided by the title ‘Open House’, the Curatorial Team – led by Artistic Director Matthew Ngui, working with curators Russell Storer and Trevor Smith – have invited this dynamic selection of artists to explore the sites and culture of Singapore. ‘Open House’ will offer a broad spectrum of experiences for the visitor, from intimate encounters to monumental installations.

Artistic Director of SB2011, Mr. Matthew Ngui, says: “We are working to present an eclectic mix of artists and works that we hope will engage the public on a number of levels. The process of selecting artists involves looking at their practice, from the artists’ initial seeds of idiosyncratic thought through their creative development of this, given the time, space, collaborators, materials and resources.”

Mr. Ngui adds, “Each person in the curatorial team has his own take on ways we observe and analyze artistic process. I am interested in the often small but core ideas that drive an artist’s practice. In ‘Open House’ we are creating situations where these ideas can find intersections with spaces and communities in Singapore, towards the making of art. Russell contextualizes praxis as a dialogue between the private and public, where the personal and intimate reside in the centre of the final artwork. Trevor’s focus is on the relationship between the artist’s thought process and their ambient environment and how that interaction offers unexpected revelations for the viewer. With this focus, we are researching and exposing specific but varied methods of practice, from its inception to its exhibited completion.”

Director of the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), Mr. Tan Boon Hui, says, “As a museum focused on the contemporary visual arts and presenter of the Biennale, a key focus for SAM and the Biennale’s curatorial team, is to showcase the latest developments in international contemporary art, while engaging with people from all segments of our society to raise greater awareness and appreciation for contemporary art. The Biennale enables Singapore to plug into the latest developments in contemporary visual culture around the world. One of the most distinctive aspects of the next Biennale is the incoporation of art projects that will transform our experiences of familiar places and landmarks in Singapore. This capacity of contemporary art to help us see the world in a different way is one of the most important reasons why contemporary art development through platforms like the Biennale is important if Singapore aspires to be a global city of culture. By featuring Singapore artists alongside the leading lights of the international scene, the Biennale also affirms the artistic achievements of our local contemporary artists.”

SB2011 will present around 50 artists from across the world, with a significant representation of Singaporean and South East Asian artists. Approximately a third of the artists will be invited to present newly commissioned works or projects that are specifically configured for the Biennale’s unique array of exhibition sites. This represents a major increase from the second edition. ‘Open House’ will reach out to the growing audience for contemporary art in Singapore, with visitorship expected to reach over half a million people.

Organised by the Singapore Art Museum of the National Heritage Board and supported by the National Arts Council, the third Singapore Biennale will be held from 6 March to 8 May 2011.