Fifth Singapore Biennale returns on Oct 28, explores relationships of history and culture in Asia

The contemporary art exhibition will feature about 60 artists and art collectives from the region

The Singapore Biennale will return for its fifth edition on Oct 28 to explore relationships of history and culture within Asia. Organised by the Singapore Art Museum, its outgoing director, Dr Susie Lingham, will stay on as the event's creative director.

The four-month-long contemporary art exhibition, which runs till Feb 26 next year, is commissioned by the National Arts Council. This is the second time the museum is organising the biennale.

Titled An Atlas Of Mirrors, it will have about 60 artists and art collectives from the region and will be put together by a team of 10 curators, six of whom are from the museum.

These details were announced at a press briefing yesterday.

South-east Asia remains the point of convergence for artistic explorations at this biennale, but the scope will also encompass East Asia and South Asia, which were marginally represented at the last event.

The four independent curators collaborating with the museum are Ms Xiang Liping, head of exhibi- tions at the Shanghai contemporary art museum Power Station Of Art; Ms Nur Hanim Khairuddin, an artist and independent curator based in Malaysia; Singapore artist- curator Michael Lee; and India- based curator Suman Gopinath.

The museum's curators Joyce Toh and Tan Siuli co-head the team, which includes their colleagues John Tung, Louis Ho and Andrea Fam.

The preliminary list of artists participating in the event include Singapore's Han Sai Por, Indo- nesia's Titarubi and China's Qiu Zhijie, and younger artists such as India's Rathin Barman and Vietnam's Nguyen Phuong Linh.

The main venue for the exhibition will be the museum's premises in Bras Basah Road and Queen Street. The works will include commissioned site-specific creations. Artworks will also be on display elsewhere in the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct, including the National Museum of Singapore and Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Preparations for the biennale started in the middle of last year.After Dr Lingham leaves the museum at the end of March, she will continue to work for the biennale as its creative director and oversee the exhibition, ranging from its production to programming.

There are fewer curators and artists for this biennale than the last, which opened in 2013 and comprised 27 curators and 82 artists and art collectives.

Dr Lingham, who was involved in the last biennale, says the budget remains the same at about $6 million, but the approach this time is "more focused and cohesive" and the smaller number of participants does not mean that this biennale will be a lesser show.

Curatorial co-head Ms Toh, who was involved in the last biennale, says: "Having 27 curators was a great experiment, but it was hard to get a consistent conversation going."

Ms Gopinath, a first-time curator for the Singapore Biennale, says she is looking forward to the artistic exchange. "It'll be a chance for artists from India to show with artists from the region and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the themes of the biennale."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline Fifth Singapore Biennale returns on Oct 28, explores relationships of history and culture in Asia. Subscribe