Minister Grace Fu to launch Singapore Pavilion at Venice Biennale

The pavilion contains an art installation by artist Zai Kuning titled Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge. He will create a new boat for the Venice Biennale.
The pavilion contains an art installation by artist Zai Kuning titled Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge. He will create a new boat for the Venice Biennale.PHOTO: ZAI KUNING

The ancient Malay kingdom of Srivijaya will once again come alive from Wednesday (May 10), when the Singapore Pavilion is launched at the 57th Venice Biennale by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

This is the eighth time Singapore is participating in the Venice Biennale, which runs from Saturday to Nov 26.

The pavilion contains a massive art installation by Singaporean multidisciplinary artist Zai Kuning, 53, titled Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge.

Zai's work, which comprises a 17m-long rattan ship,is a re-imagining of the voyage of the first Malay king, Dapunta Hyang, through Srivijaya, a vast empire that includes Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

It also comprises photographs and audio recordings that explore narratives linked to the orang laut, or sea people of the Riau Archipelago, and 30 portraits of practitioners of mak yong (an operatic tradition with Hindu-Buddhist roots) whom Zai encountered on his travels.

Ms Fu will be in Venice from Tuesday to Thursday, where she will also meet Singapore artists Sarah Choo Jing and Erika Tan who are participating in different shows in Venice.

Jing, 27, is presenting her video installation, Art Of The Rehearsal, which depicts traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian dancers rehearsing in the back alleys of Singapore's heritage districts. The work was originally commissioned for the National Museum of Singapore's new digital gallery.

London-based artist Tan, who declined to reveal her age, presents a video installation, The "Forgotten" Weaver, about Halimah, a real-life Malay weaver who died whilst being a part of an exhibition about the British empire in London in 1924.