Open to the public from 27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017, the four-month long exhibition will feature works by 63 artists and art collectives from 19 countries and territories across Southeast Asia, East and South Asia.
Visitors can reflect and marvel at artworks of various media that are curated around nine sub-themes and presented at seven locations across Singapore — mainly Singapore Art Museum, SAM at 8Q, Asian Civilisations Museum, de Suantio Gallery at SMU, National Museum of Singapore, Stamford Green and Peranakan Museum.
The biennale theme “An Atlas of Mirrors” hopes to explore the atlases and mirrors that have helped in mankind’s exploration of the world as we journey into the unknown. Visitors can expect to be intrigued and inspired as they explore and experience, realising the many ways of seeing the world and ourselves.
Exploring all the exhibits at the biennale will probably take you more than a day, so we have sussed out six artworks that you shouldn’t miss visiting, especially if you’re tied for time.
1. The Unity of N Monuments by Jiao Xingtao (Asian Civilisations Museum)
Located at the river entrance of the Asian Civilisations Museum, the neat lined rows of 100 red and blue plastic stool chairs is definitely hard to miss. While a single stool might be easily overlooked; bringing them together showcases a formidable visual strength, conveying political gravity, a sense of ceremony and monumentality.
Hailing from Chongqing, China the artist – Jiao Xingtao uses what is commonly found in his home country to showcase the connection that humans have with art, considering the transformations between the daily-used object, the ready-made and the sculpture.
Causing us to question how we perceive reality and the differences between what is true versus what we see and understand.
2. Cooking The World by Subodh Gupta (National Museum Of Singapore)
Subodh Gupta is probably best known for his artworks that feature everyday objects that are commonly found in India, such as stainless steel utensils, bicycles and milk pails. Often said as a mirroring of the visual culture around him; one that is saturated with an abundance of images, forms, food and people.
Choosing to use aluminium vessels that have been inscribed with personal histories, “Cooking the World” reflects the parallel realities that are seen in a globalised, consumerist society: with surplus and affluence on one hand, death and deprivation on the other.
The use of worn out vessels symbolise the lives of those that have been marginalised by life and history, while the delicate thread from which each pot hangs lend a sense of fragile temporality to the work.
3. There Are Those Who Stay/There Are Those Who Go by Perception3 (National Museum Of Singapore)
Making an appearance for the first time in the Singapore Biennale 2016, Perception3 is an interdisciplinary art duo consisting of Regina De Rozario (Artist/Writer) and Seah Sze Yunn (design practitioner) with a practice that is focused on exploring the notions of memory and loss through the examination of relationships and narratives encountered between the self and the city.
Located at the Standford Green, beside the National Museum, the two aluminium composite panels are mirrored to face each other to represent “two perspectives of a single decisive moment”.
With each wall bearing a phrase “There are those who stay” and the other wall “There are those who go”. The walls suggest a look into the nature of choice, attachment, separation and loss.
In trying to amplify the notions of attachment and loss, the artwork is situated on the site where the old National Library building once stood, offering a reflection on Singapore’s architectural heritage, with the mirror-like walls providing the viewer with a tangible yet reflected and hence distorted encounter of the site.
4. Paracosmos by Harumi Yukutake (Singapore Art Museum)
Primarily using glass as a medium of expression, Harumi Yukutake aims to engage natural phenomena and human perception in her artworks.
The glass mirror display “Paracosmos” transports the viewer into a space that is recognisable but unfamiliar. The mirrors are laid out across the circular stairwell of the Singapore Art Museum, a central transition space that connects both floors.
With the “membrane” of hand-cut mirrors dissolving the definition between foreground and background by dissipating a single image into an explosion of reflections. The mirror thus becomes a paradoxical device that is able to hold every other image by having no inherent image.
5. History Repeats Itself by Titarubi (Singapore Art Museum)
As one of Indonesia’s pioneering female contemporary artists, Titarubi often deals with issues of gender, culture, memory and colonialism in visually poetic ways. The art installation “History Repeats Itself” brings the viewer through the history of power, telling the tales of colonial conquest in Southeast Asia.
Cloak figurines wearing a gold robe made of gold-plated nutmeg sit atop burnt out ships which tell of the early centuries of European colonialism, making reference to the burning of ships in Indonesia by the Dutch East India Company in an attempt to seize control of the lucrative spice trade.
The gold-plated nutmeg, a spice once worth its weight in gold was fought over in countless wars. With the rich sheen suggesting grandiosity and pomp while the hollowness conjures the illusoriness of riches and power.
6. Black Forest by Han Sai Por (Singapore Art Museum)
As one of Asia’s leading modern sculptors and Singapore’s Cultural Medallion recipient, Han Sai Por has for three decades championed for environmental change in the South East Asia region through her body of work.
An artwork that is five years in the making, “Black Forest” takes the form of installations comprising black or blackened wood logs lying on beds of charcoal. What you can see is a destroyed forest of charcoal logs that stand upright showing the resilience of the forest despite ongoing deforestation activities.
Come down to visit the artworks at the various locations, and hopefully, be inspired by the artworks that will renew your sense of wonder and curiosity about our surrounding neighbours and the region. Book your tickets now!
Learn about the atlases and mirrors that have helped us explore the world as we navigate and map our journeys into the unknown.
Dates: 27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017
Price: (Single Entry) S$19 – Standard Rate, S$14 – Singaporean/PR; (Multiple Entry, up to 3 times) S$22 – Standard Rate, S$17 – Singaporean/PR
Singapore Biennale 2016 – An Atlas of Mirrors: Website | Buy your tickets here! | Download the Singapore Biennale 2016 Guide
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