Singapore Biennale

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Singapore Biennale at City Hall.
This cardboard furniture, originally designed for the Biennale Opening Party VIP tentage (used by VIPs including Lee Hsien Loong) was designed by Jonathan Choe and Robin Wau. It was later exhibited at Tanglin Camp, City Hall, and Shigeru Ban's Cardboard Pavilion at Singapore Management University.

The Singapore Biennale (Chinese: 新加坡双年展) is a contemporary art biennale in Singapore. The first Singapore Biennale operated as one of a lineup of Singapore 2006 events. Fumio Nanjo, Director of Tokyo's Mori Art Museum, has been reappointed Artistic Director of the Singapore Biennale 2008. Working with Mr Nanjo on Singapore Biennale 2008 are two curators: independent curator Joselina Cruz, formerly a curator at the Singapore Art Museum and the Lopez Museum in Manila; and Matthew Ngui, one of Singapore's leading artists in contemporary art.

The first Singapore Biennale employed the theme of "Belief", commencing on 4 September 2006 and ended on 12 November 2006. The event was held in various locations throughout Singapore. It featured 195 artworks, from 95 artists and collectives from 38 different countries. The event was part of the Singapore 2006 events which included the 2006 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group held at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event was organised by the National Arts Council (which also organised the annual Singapore Arts Festival) in conjunction with the National Heritage Board.

The first and second editions of the Biennale were organised by the National Arts Council. For the third edition, Singapore Art Museum - Singapore's contemporary art museum - came on board as a venue organiser. In the fourth and fifth editions, the National Arts Council of Singapore appointed the Singapore Art Museum as the Singapore Biennale organiser. Under the direction of the Singapore Art Museum, the Biennale has focused on deepening awareness and understanding of Southeast Asian contemporary art, and attracted over 500,000 visitors over 4 months.

The 2016 edition of the Singapore Biennale takes place from 27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017, and is titled "An Atlas of Mirrors". Exploring shared histories and current realities within and beyond the region, Singapore Biennale 2016 will be a constellation of artistic perspectives that provide unexpected ways of seeing the world and ourselves. The international contemporary art exhibition will feature site-specific and never seen before contemporary artworks by more than 60 artists across Southeast Asia, and East and South Asia. The Biennale aims to cultivate deeper public engagement with contemporary visual arts through its accompanying public engagement and education programmes, that include artist and curator talks and tours, school visits and workshops, and community days.

Singapore Biennale 2016 venues[edit]


  • 1st Singapore Biennale - "Belief" - The first Singapore Biennale featured different types of contemporary art including drawings, paintings, installations, new media, performances, photography, video, publishing, sound, wall painting, and furniture. Artists of note included Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Fujiko Nakaya, Jenny Holzer, Mariko Mori, Shigeru Ban, Yayoi Kusama, Jenny Holzer and Takashi Kuribayashi. The Curatorial Team for the Singapore Biennale was headed by renowned curator Fumio Nanjo. The other curators involved were Roger McDonald (Japan), Sharmini Pereira (Sri Lanka/United Kingdom) and Eugene Tan (Singapore).
  • 2nd Singapore Biennale - "Wonder"- The second Singapore Biennale, held over 8 weeks in 2008, was again helmed by Fumio Nanjo, this time working with the curatorial team of Joselina Cruz and Matthew Ngui. Under the theme of 'Wonder', the Biennale invited people to be 'surprised and tantalised' by contemporary art. Foregrounding beauty and aesthetic experience, the exhibition also used the other meaning of the title to encourage questioning and debate. 66 artists from 36 countries participated in the exhibition.
  • 3rd Singapore Biennale - "Open House" - Led by Matthew Ngui as Artistic Director and curators - Russell Storer and Trevor Smith, the third Biennale featured 60 artists from 30 countries. Held over nine weeks, the Singapore Biennale was titled 'Open House', examining multiple perspectives and myriad creative approaches to questions of how we move across borders, see other points of view, and form connections with others.
  • 4th Singapore Biennale - "If the World Changed" - Featuring works by 82 artists and artist collectives from 13 countries, the fourth Biennale has harnessed the energy of the Southeast Asian region to bring to the fore unique practices, concerns and myriad perspectives of artists from this part of the world. Drawing on the combined expertise of its team of 27 curators from Southeast Asia, a significant 93% of works are by artists or collectives from the region, resulting in the strongest Asian representation to date.
  • 5th Singapore Biennale - "An Atlas of Mirrors" - Retaining a collaborative curatorial framework, the fifth Biennale is led by a curatorial team of SAM Curators Ms. Joyce Toh, Ms. Tan Siuli, Mr. Louis Ho, Ms. Andrea Fam and Mr. John Tung, as well as four Associate Curators who are invited by SAM to work together. The four Associate Curators are Ms. Suman Gopinath - based in Bangalore, India; Ms. Nur Hanim Khairuddin - based in Ipoh, Malaysia, Mr. Michael Lee from Singapore, and Ms. Xiang Liping - based in Shanghai, China. The curatorial team will work closely with SB2016 Creative Director, Dr. Susie Lingham, who shapes and facilitates curatorial discussions, and oversees all SB2016 creative content.

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