SINGAPORE – Put on your walking shoes. The Singapore Biennale 2022 will be taking place in 13 locations on and off the island starting on Sunday. The biennale, named Natasha, will also present 30 new and specially commissioned artworks.
Three venues have been added – the Singapore Flyer, International Plaza and the former Midfilm House at 22 Orchard Road. Venues that were announced in July include St John’s Island, Lazarus Island as well as regional libraries in Woodlands, Jurong and Tampines.
Mr Low Eng Teong, deputy chief executive officer of sector development at the National Arts Council and member of the Singapore Biennale committee, said in a statement: “In transforming the island into a distinctive city through art, we hope to bring the arts to people of all ages and backgrounds.”
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at Tanjong Pagar Distripark (TPD) will remain the anchor for the biennale. The museum will host more than 100 artworks by over 50 artists from around 20 countries across its three floors.
One of the new commissions on show at TPD is Indonesia-based Natasha Tontey’s installation called Garden Amidst The Flame; Lacuna For Compassion (2022), which is based on the Karai ritual of the Minahasan people, an ethnic group native to Indonesia.
The mobile sculptures by South Korean artist Haegue Yang are not commissions but feel right at home at SAM at TPD. The anthropomorphic-looking sculptures of The Hybrid Intermediates – Flourishing Electrophorus Duo (Sonic Intermediate – Hairy Carbonous Dweller And The Randing Intermediate – Furless Uncolored Dweller) look at folk traditions as a way of exploring notions of identity and belonging.
You will need sea legs to see the commissioned work by Singapore artist Zarina Muhammad because it is located on St John’s Island and is accessible only by ferry. Called Moving Earth, Crossing Water, Eating Soil, the work is an audio, visual and tactile installation that invites the viewer to create new mappings of the environment.
The most expansive event this year is the multi-authored project called Islandwide Coverage by Singaporeans Wayne Lim and Soh Kay Min of art collective AWKNDAFFR. This new commission will be presented in six locations, including at the Singapore Flyer, and will look at the infrastructural networks and environments of everyday life.
On a smaller scale, though no less ambitious is Turkish artist Cevdet Erek’s Bergama Stereo In Singapore at SAM at TPD. It is an architectural installation based on sounds collected in the environment. Erek, who is also a musician, first created a version of this in Germany in 2019. In that iteration, the ancient Greek altar of Pergamon located in modern-day Turkey, which had been partially relocated to Berlin, was reimagined with sound.
This idea that sound can create art, and can even travel in the airwaves and exist anywhere and touch everyone, is one of the ideas behind the naming of the biennale.
In an e-mail response to The Straits Times, the four co-artistic directors of the biennale, Ms Binna Choi, Ms Nida Ghouse, Ms June Yap and Ms Ala Younis, say: “By focusing on interiority, audiences here in Singapore and overseas are invited to relate and connect with Natasha intimately without relying on the visual spectacle that is typical of large-scale biennales.
“With that said, Singapore Biennale 2022/Natasha can be seen as a journey, where audiences, artists and collaborators are fellow travellers and dwellers invited to find, form or shape the biennale in the process of experiencing it.”
Singapore Biennale 2022/Natasha
Where: Various locations in Singapore
When: From Sunday to March 19
Admission: Tickets for exhibitions at the Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark start at $15 (concessions available). Free admission for other locations, although fares such as ferry tickets apply for locations at St John’s and Lazarus islands.