The current Singapore Biennale 2013, one of the most important art platforms in the world, is taking place at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) until February next year. Featuring artists and curators from 13 countries including 11 Vietnamese, this year's Biennial is focused on harnessing the energy of Southeast Asia under the theme If the World Changed. The museum's director Dr Susie Lingham spoke to Culture Vulture.
How many times has SAM hosted the Singapore Biennale?
This is the second time the Singapore Art Museum is organising the Singapore Biennale. The museum has been a strong advocate of the promotion of Southeast Asian contemporary art since the late 2000s. The Biennale serves as an important platform to foster regional conversations and for building capabilities in the contemporary art scene regionally.
How does the museum expect to connect the artists with general public out there?
Connecting artists with the public is an important part of the Biennale. This year we looked at three key aspects in particular – participation, programmes and resources.
As part of its efforts to broaden the range of artistic projects in the Biennale, SAM called for the public to be involved in selected art projects. The projects were aimed at bringing artists and their public together by exposing participants to the concepts and practices of contemporary artists whose works are rooted in collaborative and participatory practices. This initiative was put in place to further the Biennale's long-term goal of raising the level of artistic appreciation in Singapore and build connections within the community.
The Biennale will also present a number of collaborative works created by regional artists and the communities in which they live and work. For instance, Filipino collective Siete Pesos' work incorporated workshops for child survivors of a destructive Typhoon in Cagayan de Oro, in order to spread the healing power of art. Works such as these demonstrate how by engaging with the community, contemporary art is able to take on additional meaning and relevance.
Additionally, this year's Biennale will feature a range of engaging programmes and activities in an expansion of its educational and outreach efforts.
Furthermore, with this edition, we're putting more information in the hands of the audience. In line with SAM's commitment to developing an appreciation and understanding of Southeast Asian contemporary art amongst a wider audience, a number of information resources have been put in place to help position Biennale as a gateway to discover the complex and nuanced facets of Asia.
This Biennale has a distinct Southeast Asian focus. What messages are conveyed?
It is interesting to see how artists from across the region have responded to this year's Singapore Biennale title, ‘If The World Changed' in ways that respond to the socio-cultural context of their country, yet resonate within a broader context of Southeast Asia as well. We've observed common themes of art addressing social issues, governance, ownership, spirituality and the influences of culture.
Overall, the combined showcase of Southeast Asia's best contemporary art is powerful in allowing us to present on this international platform a more exciting and layered picture of current regional socio-cultural concerns of artists. Through the Biennale, we are excited to be championing the growth and development of the region's contemporary art scene.
By hosting the event, which benefits will the museum achieve?
The SAM advocates and presents contemporary art practices of Singapore and the Southeast Asian region to the wider world. We are also committed to developing an appreciation and understanding of Southeast Asian contemporary art amongst an international audience. As such, through the Biennale, we are extending our role as champion of the region's contemporary arts scene. — VNS