Singapore sends first female artist-curator team to Venice Biennale

Artist Shubigi Rao and curator Ute Meta Bauer were selected by a commissioning panel.
Artist Shubigi Rao and curator Ute Meta Bauer were selected by a commissioning panel.PHOTO: NATIONAL ARTS COUNCIL

SINGAPORE - Artist Shubigi Rao and curator Ute Meta Bauer will represent Singapore in the Venice Biennale - the first female artist-curator team to do so.

The prestigious arts festival will return from April 23 to Nov 27 next year (2022), after it was postponed for a year due to the ongoing pandemic.

Next year's event will be the 10th time Singapore is taking part in the festival under the auspices of the National Arts Council.

Rao, 46, an award-winning artist who has exhibited at biennales and institutions around the world, is the creator of Pulp: A Short Biography Of The Banished Book, a decade-long film, book and visual art project.

She is also curating the upcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the fifth edition of India's first biennale of international contemporary art.

Bauer, 63, a curator with three decades of experience, is the founding director of the NTU (Nanyang Technological University) Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, as well as a professor at the NTU School of Art, Design and Media.

Rao and Bauer were selected by a commissioning panel led by NAC's chief executive Rosa Daniel and Mr Ahmad Mashadi, the head of NUS (National University of Singapore) Museum.

Mr Ahmad says in a statement that the proposal "has a universal appeal and ability to connect with diverse cultural contexts, having been developed by the artist over her long practice across many locations".

He adds: "Both Rao and Bauer have exceptional records of practice one can describe to be global, but critically grounded in Singapore".

Says Mrs Daniel: "The pandemic has reminded us how art is essential to our well-being, and the news of the resumption of international biennales such as La Biennale di Venezia has been enthusiastically received by everyone in the arts community.

"NAC is committed to sustaining Singapore's arts, and a key part of our plans has been to help our artists connect to the international scene and project a different side of Singapore on the global stage."

Next year's art biennale, known as the 59th International Art Exhibition, is helmed by Italian curator Cecilia Alemani and will have the theme The Milk of Dreams.

The Singapore pavilion at the biennale has been located in the city's Arsenale complex since 2015. It has previously spotlighted the works of artists such as Song-Ming Ang (2019), Zai Kuning (2017) and Charles Lim (2015).

For more information, go to the NAC's site.