7 Highlights You Won’t Want To Miss From Singapore Biennale 2019


The Singapore Biennale 2019 (SB2019) will be making a return for its sixth edition and will feature 77 artists and art collectives from 36 countries and territories.

This year’s Biennale is titled Every Step in the Right Direction and showcases over 150 works from a variety of mediums including film, installation, sound art and performance, as well as new commissions and never-before-seen works.

SB2019 will be opened to the public across its 11 venues in the city from 22 November 2019 all through 22 March 2020.

With so much to see at this year’s event, here are 7 highlights that you simply won’t want to miss.

National Gallery Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore showcases 36 artists and collectives, allowing visitors to engage with the art pieces using unconventional methods of experiencing the everyday life and ecology surrounding us.

Black–Hut, Black–Hut by Boedi Widjaja

Boedi Widjaja_Courtesy of the artist

Black–Hut, Black–Hut is a site-specific proto-structure done up by Boedi Widjaja, an artist that creates art pieces based off his own experience of migration and diaspora.

This art piece is an interpretation of the gap between ground and land in tropical and subtropical vernacular houses that were built on raised floors, similar to the Javanese Joglo, the Queenslander house and the Malay house, as well as the HDB void deck.

Black–Hut, Black–Hut also doubles as a diptych to the first iteration of the work at the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in 2018.

async – volume by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Zakkubalan

Zakkubalan, in collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto async – volume (installation detail)_ photo Neo Sora_ image courtesy of the Artists

As a tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s 19th Solo album, ‘async’, async – volume is a collaborative project between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Zakkubalan, created to showcase the behind-the-scenes of the composer and his creative process.

In async – volume, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the natural field audio captured in Sakamoto’s New York studio, entwined with fragments of music from ‘async’, to create an ever-shifting ambient soundscape. Simultaneously, visitors will also be able to admire the photographic montage displayed across 24 video screens in a darkened room.

Gillman Barracks

This year’s Biennale stretches over to Gillman Barracks and features 22 artists and collectives open for visitors to explore and examine the rapid changes in today’s environment, revisiting both the history of nature and the nature of history as a complex, vulnerable and enduring ecology.

An Obstacle in Every Direction by Nabilah Nordin

Nabilah Nordin An Obstacle in Every Direction (artist impression)_ image courtesy of the Artist

This art installation resembles an obstacle course that comprises of found objects precariously placed. The artist behind this piece is Nabilah Nordin, who was greatly inspired by the notion of failure.

In An Obstacle in Every Direction, visitors will be able to explore the different possible routes to escape the obstacle course, while admiring the different textures of the obstacles obstructing their way.

This art piece allows visitors to experience what it means to open themselves to experiencing the different routes that might go somewhere, nowhere or everywhere.

5 Rehearsals of a Wedding by Kray Chen

Kray Chen 5 Rehearsals of a Wedding (video still)_ images courtesy of the Artist

The wedding ceremony is a right-of-passage for many couples where they publicly signify the start of their married lives.

In 5 Rehearsals of a Wedding produced by Kray Chen, it showcases the five ceremonies that take place in a typical Singapore-Chinese wedding day. In the video, the groom – played by Kray Chen, undergoes the rehearsals of a wedding day with the help of four friends, as well as an absent wife.

The video then follows Kray as he goes through the rehearsals while simultaneously ruminating the concept of a wedding as a performative gesture and as a reflection of one’s anxieties and pressures of societal expectations.

LASALLE College of the Arts

The LASALLE College of the Arts features 13 artists and collectives across a range of modes including the archive, textbook, art history, and lectures, among others.

The Mamitua Saber Project by Bakudapan Food Study Group, Mark Sanchez, and PROPAGANDA DEPARTMENT

The Mamitua Saber Project is inspired by the work of Dr Mamitua Saber, a sociologist, institution-builder, cultural worker and educator.

Featuring three artists – The Bakudapan Food Study Group, Mark Sanchez, and PROPAGANDA DEPARTMENT, this art piece draws upon, translates and deepen Saber’s ideas, theories and practices to create the para-curatorial framework of The Mamitua Saber Project.

Bakudapan Food Study Group Moro Moro (installation detail)_ illustration Prihatmoki_ image courtesy of the Artists

The Bakudapan Food Study Group is an interdisciplinary all-female group focusing on the examination of issues such as migration, displacement and the formation of cultural minorities through food.

In Moro Moro, it utilises Saber’s autobiographical fieldwork to study the food culture of Morotai, an Indonesian island.

Mark Sanchez From Where Labor Blooms (annotated diagram)_ image courtesy of the Artist

From Where Labor Blooms was done up by Mark Sanchez, who specialises in the accumulation, classification and inventory of images and information.

This art piece focuses on the embodiment of a peasant leader superimposed onto a diagram created by Saber. It uses the notion of labour as a living entity.

The final installation of The Mamitua Saber Project encompasses Etc., Etc., No. 3:About to, thereafter, a commission created by ..PROPAGANDA DEPARTMENT, an anonymous collective that looks into the textual space.

Etc., Etc., No. 3:About to, thereafter focuses on the roles of women and language across borders, trading hubs and other cross-cultural transactions in northern Vietnam and the southern Guangxi province in China.

Asian Civilisations Museum

Pink Slime Caesar Shift: Gold Edition by Jen Liu

Jen Liu Pink Slime Caesar Shift (video stills)_ images courtesy of the Artist

The Pink Slime Caesar Shift: Gold Edition, is a series of live performances, videos, set design, installation and paintings that represent the value and nature of gold.

This art installation simultaneously explores the concepts of gold-particle genetic engineering, gold as a principle of wealth, labour and trade, and how one’s body and ‘fate’ can be altered by ingesting gold.

2065 (Singapore Centennial Edition) by Lawrence Lek

Lawrence Lek 2065 (Singapore Centennial Edition) (video still); image courtesy of the Artist.jpg

The Asian Civilisations Museum is home for the para-fiction modelled by Lawrence Lek, set in the year 2065, where the Farsight Corporation launches its latest video game.

2065 has created a space layered with history and artefacts, blurring the line between physical architecture and the virtual space.

In this game-space, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a not-so-distant future of Singapore and Southeast Asia, blurring the boundaries of art and entertainment while bringing together the structure of a historical museum with the unknown imagined future.

The Singapore Biennale 2019 will be opened to the public from 22 November 2019 to 22 March 2020 and will be held across 11 locations; Singapore Art Museum, National Gallery Singapore, Gillman Barracks, LASELLE College of the Arts, Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum of Singapore, SMU de Suantio Gallery, National Library, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Far East Plaza and W!LD RICE @ Funan.