Singapore Art Week 2022: So much to see, too little time

The annual visual arts week, now in its 10th edition, is a joint initiative by the National Arts Council and the Singapore Tourism Board. PHOTOS: S.E.A. FOCUS 2022, SAMUEL ANG, CHONG JUN LIANG, THIRD STREET STUDIO

SINGAPORE - Art lovers are spoilt for choice this Singapore Art Week (SAW), which returns from Jan 14 to 23 with more than 130 events across the island.

Tanjong Pagar Distripark, in particular, will be a hive of activity, with SAW open-call projects in warehouse units, major showcase S.E.A. Focus and exhibitions in the Singapore Art Museum's new space - including one inspired by the bio-rhythms of mushrooms.

Aliwal Arts Centre will be the backdrop for programmes such as the AliWALL Festival and the Islands Time-Based Art Festival.

People can also check out new exhibitions in places such as Bras Basah Complex and Gillman Barracks. One of these is A World At Every Turn at 7 Lock Road, which brings together art from members of the Art Galleries Association Singapore.

Art will also spring up in more unconventional places, such as on a Chinese street opera stage in Prinsep Street, in a Housing Board flat in Bedok and in Funan mall, where artists and brands have collaborated on projects.

The annual visual arts week, now in its 10th edition, is a joint initiative by the National Arts Council and the Singapore Tourism Board. Here are some highlights.

S.E.A. Focus


This exhibition of South-east Asian contemporary art returns for its fourth edition, with 24 galleries showcasing more than 150 works by 50 artists.

The event, which is led by STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery, also includes talks by industry experts, the blockchain Tezos' showcase of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from regional digital artists and a film programme at Projector X.

Where: Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road; online (talks); Projector X, 04-13 Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road (film programme)
When: Jan 15 to 23; 1 to 8pm, last entry at 7.30pm (Jan 15 to 22), 1 to 5pm, last entry at 4.30pm (Jan 23); films and talks at various timings
Admission: $10, $8 (films at Projector X)
Info: S.E.A. Focus' website

Bad Imitation


In this exhibition, eight emerging and established Singapore artists take over a warehouse unit and engage in acts of "deliberately imprecise imitation".

Khairullah Rahim and Nghia Phung's after-party references the stray, seemingly abandoned everyday objects the artists saw in working-class neighbourhoods. The installation is a gathering of found objects, some of which have been elevated into "readymades", to borrow French artist Marcel Duchamp's word for art created from mass-produced objects.

Moses Tan's video installation, A Whispering Of Salt, features abstract representations of the body in a work inspired by various true-crime forensic television series.

Pat Toh's Air Ways - part of her long-running examination of breath - comprises found objects alluding to the generation or circulation of air.

The exhibition's title suggests that the works on display are "bad imitations".

"By failing, however, a bad imitation reveals more of its original than the original ever could," write its curators Berny Tan, 31, and Daniel Chong, 26, in a statement on their website. "It steals from its source material, yet gives back by emphasising its own genesis. Oscillating within this strange cyclical loop, the copy can become more compelling than what it seeks to imitate."

Where: 05-04 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road
When: Jan 14 to 23, 11am to 8pm
Admission: Free
Info: Bad Imitation's website

Happy House


In Singapore, having the 5Cs - cash, car, condominium, country club membership and credit card - was once seen as a ticket to a happy life. But where does one go from there and is there happiness in the pursuit of happiness today?

These are questions curators Tulika Ahuja, 28, and Eileen Chan, 32, have been chewing over in this exhibition, which is presented by art agency Mama Magnet and music agency The Council.

Ahuja and Chan, the agencies' respective founders, have put together a show featuring nearly 20 emerging visual artists, film-makers, animators and musicians, which might prompt visitors to find alternative ways of looking at their own happiness.

Highlights range from Kaleidoscope of Emotions, an audiovisual experience by Singapore-born artists Reza Hasni and Kin Leonn, to video works by Singapore artist New World Plaza.

"We're also curious as to what happiness really looks like today. Especially in our current climate, where it feels like we are constantly being sold ideas of happiness on social media platforms, which have in a way become a 24/7 marketplace," the curators say. "This made us think - can money buy happiness?"

People can also submit a happy memory in the form of a photo or video to Happy House via a direct message on Instagram. Ahuja and Chan will then review the submissions based on data points such as geography and time-stamps to see what patterns might emerge.

Where: 05-04 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road; online
When: Jan 14 to 23, 11am to 8pm daily
Admission: Free
Info: Happy House's website

SPH Brightcove Video
A signature event of the Singapore Art Week returns in 2022 with digital and on-site art experiences for audiences. Projections and public installations are some of the highlights to look forward to at the festival.

Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark

Living mushrooms inhabit glass containers while their "bio-rhythms" - data from their carbon dioxide emissions - are captured and converted into sounds and flashing lights. The fungi might in turn respond to these stimuli.

They are part of Refuse, an inter-media exhibition on music, mushrooms and decomposition by experimental band The Observatory, which turn 20 this year.

In the gallery space, fungi are everywhere - mushrooming in drum kits, guitars and growing on petri dishes. They seem to be speaking to their human visitors and to one another.


At one end of the gallery, several living lingzhi mushrooms are bathed in the glow of light projections, the visual rhythms of which are derived from the decomposition of a film reel. Even the music playing in the background comes from fungal data.

"The sounds in this exhibition are generated not by human beings, but by mushrooms," says guest curator Tang Fu Kuen, 49. "It was on this anniversary that The Observatory decided not to compose anything, but to relinquish the authority and authorship to nature."

The show, he adds, is "about how the life of the band constantly evolves and changes. With this exhibition, The Observatory is asking - how should music move forward?"

Refuse, which was conceived with the help of home-grown mycological design studio Bewilder, is one of several exhibitions marking the opening of the Singapore Art Museum's new two-storey space at Tanjong Pagar Distripark.

Another exhibition is Korakrit Arunanondchai's A Machine Boosting Energy Into The Universe. Centred on a large-scale video installation, it takes visitors into an environment alluding to a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Other highlights range from video essays by Malaysian artist Gan Siong King to Present Realms, a project space featuring the museum's pilot residency programme members Chu Hao Pei, Salty Xi Jie Ng and Johann Yamin.

There are also talks, workshops, performances and other events.

Where: SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road; online
When: From Jan 14, 10am to 7pm daily, various timings and dates
Admission: Free entry for all from Jan 14 to Feb 14, after which it will be free only for Singapore citizens and permanent residents. Registration required for some events, $25 for Wanderlust@SAM theatrical experience
Info: SAM's website

Objectifs Exhibitions


Artist-curator Zulkhairi Zulkiflee's first solo exhibition, Proximities, is a creative response to representations of the Malay boy in the paintings of the late pioneer Nanyang artist Cheong Soo Pieng.

The video work, supplemented with photographic prints and sculpture, was informed by the 30-year-old's observations of other Malay men around him as well as on Instagram. He adds that he has also taken a particular interest in motorcycle users and regards the vehicle as "a potent machine that mediates the performance of masculinities".

Another artist showing at Objectifs is Sai, also known as Chen Sai Hua Kuan, whose video work Drawing No. 12 - 155 Middle Road encapsulates drawing, performance and spatial sculpture.

Where: Chapel Gallery and Lower Gallery, Objectifs - Centre for Photography & Film, 155 Middle Road
When: Till Jan 30, noon to 7pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays) or 4pm (Sundays); closed on Mondays and public holidays
Admission: Free, register for talks at and
Info: Objectif's website

Time Present Time Past


A Chinese street opera stage has sprung up in Prinsep Street. It is part of an exhibition featuring works such as Ken Cheong's photos of Chinese street opera in Singapore from 1989 to 2007 and Lai Yu Tong's photographic sculptures inspired by the hand gestures of Chinese street opera.

Artist Wu Yanrong, working with Singapore's veteran Chinese opera stage painter Leong Fong Wah, painted the wooden panels framing the stage.

Where: Deck, 120A Prinsep Street; Facebook (talk)
When: Till Jan 28, noon to 7pm; talk, workshops and tours at various timings
Admission: Talk and guided tours are free, but donations welcome; $40 (workshop by artist Mary Bernadette Lee). Register for guided tours and the workshop here.
Info: Deck's website

It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To, You Would Cry Too If It Happened To You


Ornamented urinal cakes, a video about crocodilian men and a cocktail referencing South Korean crime dramas are some of the highlights of this group show, which takes on the theme of unhappiness through the televisual medium.

"The last two years, through various stages of the pandemic and lockdowns and restrictions, have seen nothing but almost mass unhappiness on a global scale," says curator Louis Ho, 43. "At the same time, I was interested in having an almost carnivalesque aesthetic and feel to the exhibition, as if in celebration of our collective misery."

The exhibition, whose name comes from a 1963 Lesley Gore pop song, draws on the idea of affirmative unhappiness - borrowed from cultural theorist Sara Ahmed's critique of the imperative to be happy.

On display are works by artists such as Samuel Xun, Anthony Chin, Victoria Hertel and Adeline Kueh. Three films by Indonesian film-maker Kamila Andini will also complement the exhibition.

Where:The Projector, 05-00 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road
When: Jan 12 to Feb 6; 4 to 10.30pm (weekdays), 1 to 10.30pm (weekends and public holidays); Jan 14 to 23, various timings (Kamila Andini retrospective)
Admission: Free; except for Adeline Kueh's cocktail ($10 during happy hour, $12 during regular hours) and the Kamila Andini film retrospective ($15 a film)
Info: The Projector's website

Somewhere In Bedok Blooms The Blushing Rouge Of Embroidered Roses


A Housing Board (HDB) flat in Bedok - decorated in a rich Baroque style, with gilded furnishings, chinoiserie and antique European porcelain - sets the scene for a group exhibition exploring the domestic and the uncanny.

Installations range from sculptural forms to fabric works that incorporate fibre-optic technology. They are by artists Ian Woo, Adeline Kueh, Tini Aliman, Masuri Mazlan, Juria Toramae, Sarah Lin as well as Johann M. Fauzi, who owns the apartment. The show's curatorial consultant is Louis Ho.

Where: HDB flat in Bedok Reservoir Road (exact location to be shared with registered visitors)
When: Jan 14 to 30. A virtual iteration of the exhibition will run for several months.
Admission: Free with registration. Up to five unique visitors admitted a day.
Info: Website

Light to Night festival


Head to the Padang and feast your eyes on two contrasting installations.

Flight by LiteWerkz, inspired by the flight of birds, responds to Bluetooth signals from festivalgoers' mobile devices to create a rhapsody of light and colour.

At Fragment Of A Shoreline, a project by Spatial Anatomy and Akai Chew with OFTRT, an urban beach has resurfaced along where Singapore's old coastline used to be in the 1800s, before the land was reclaimed. Visitors can sit there and reflect on times past and present.

These works are part of the annual festival, whose other highlights range from Move For?ward (Unseen: Inside Out), a multi-sensory art installation spotlighting the visually disabled community, to Visions, an outdoor augmented-reality art exhibition.

Visitors can also look forward to light projections on iconic buildings, live music and performances in the National Gallery Singapore, more public art installations and online events.

The festival is organised by the Gallery in collaboration with the Asian Civilisations Museum, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, The Arts House, Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall, National Library Board, Capitol Singapore and Funan mall.

Where: Civic District and National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street
When: Jan 14 to Feb 3
Admission: Free
Info: Light to Night website

The Forest Institute


The secondary forest around Gillman Barracks is the subject of a research project by artist Robert Zhao, artist-architect Randy Chan and curator and exhibition-maker John Tung.

It takes the form of an architectural installation - part-metallic structure, part-wooden longhouse - housing Zhao's videos, photography and found objects. A viewing platform promises a view of an old tributary in the forest, which was concretised by the British and drains into Berlayer Creek.

People who fancy getting closer to nature can bunk in overnight in a forest observation room, large enough for two adults and two children, from dusk to dawn.

Other events include a free talk on Facebook as well as nature walks and a photography workshop the public can sign up for.

Where: Gillman Barracks, 7 Lock Road (near Carpark B)
When: Jan 14 to Feb 14, daily from 10am to 6pm, closed on public holidays and eves of public holidays; Jan 15 to Feb 13, 5.30pm to 10am, Fridays and weekends (forest observation room)
Admission: $5, tickets available on-site; $25 (nature walks); $45 (photography workshop); $250 (forest observation room for two adults a night, with up to two children under the age of 12 at an additional cost of $50). Tickets include camping food and basic overnight amenities.
Info: The forest institute's website

Islands Time-based Art Festival


More than 30 live performances, talks and discussions will focus on time-based artistic practices such as performance art, sound art and live improvisations.

The festival, which was initiated by Kai Lam and anGie Seah, brings together three generations of artists in diverse disciplines. Their works range from Use-less Act, a collaborative performance by theatre practitioners Kok Heng Leun and Chng Xin Xuan, to Nature All Around Us, a solo durational performance by Jason Lim.

Where: Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal Street; performances will also be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube
When: Jan 14 to 23; various timings
Admission: Free
Info: Facebook

SAW In 10 Days

Overwhelmed by art offerings and not sure where to start? Post-Museum, a collective founded by artists Jennifer Teo and Woon Tien Wei, will take people on a tour of more than 100 exhibitions during Singapore Art Week. On selected dates, visitors can also look forward to special detours led by guest curators Kamiliah Bahdar, Susie Wong and Tang Fu Kuen, which will also be streamed online.

Where: Various locations; online. Minibus transport will be provided
When: Jan 14 to 23, 10am to 2pm, 3 to 7pm
Admission: Free with registration (with a refundable $15.75 deposit)
Info: Post-Museum's website

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