Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao in running for $60,000 Signature Art Prize

Shubigi Rao's installation, titled Pulp: A Short Biography Of The Banished Book. Vol I: Written In The Margins (2014-2016), is part of a 10-year project on the destruction of books and libraries which began in 2014.
Shubigi Rao's installation, titled Pulp: A Short Biography Of The Banished Book. Vol I: Written In The Margins (2014-2016), is part of a 10-year project on the destruction of books and libraries which began in 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao is among 15 artists from the region and Central Asia who have been nominated for the triennial Signature Art Prize, organised by Singapore Art Museum and sponsored by the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation.

The works of all finalists go on display at the National Museum of Singapore from Friday (May 25) to Sept 2. The grand prize winner will be named at an awards ceremony on June 29 and receive $60,000.

There will also be two $15,000 jurors' choice awards plus a $10,000 people's choice award to the artwork that receives the highest number of public votes on-site at the exhibition.

The nominated works range from sculptures to an interactive installation of drawings, videos and text created by Mumbai-born Rao. The artist, who turns 43 this year, is a part-time lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts and creates work in decade-long stretches of time.

Her installation, titled Pulp: A Short Biography Of The Banished Book. Vol I: Written In The Margins (2014-2016), is part of a 10-year project on the destruction of books and libraries which began in 2014.

It includes video testimonials from people involved in saving or destroying books, such as firefighters who tried to save the burning national library of Sarajevo during civil unrest in the 1990s, or others who smuggled books and paintings to safety during that time.

A 2016 book created by Rao is also part of the installation. Pulp: A Short Biography Of The Banished Book has already won critical acclaim from book reviewers and design-lovers for its design and coverage of the issue.

 

Rao says she is honoured to be a finalist for the prize this year. "I also see this as affirmation of shared issues beyond geographic or cultural bubbles, and for the way they migrate through text, film and art. I'm very aware of how many people have entrusted their stories to this project and it helps to know that they will be visible on this platform too."

 

The Signature Art Prize was inaugurated in 2008 by the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation and the Singapore Art Museum to recognise outstanding examples of contemporary art from emerging and established artists in the Asia Pacific region.

For this edition, the field was enlarged to include Central Asia.

The 15 finalists this year were chosen from 113 nominations from 46 territories. There is one finalist each from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and two each from Japan and Vietnam.

Jurors included Ms Mami Kataoka, chief curator of Tokyo's Mori Art Museum; Mr Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation; Ms Joyce Toh, head of content and senior curator at the Singapore Art Museum; Dr Gerard Vaughan, director of the National Gallery of Australia; and artist and independent curator Wong Hoy Cheong.

Ms Kataoka said in a statement: "The Signature Art Prize 2018 exhibition provides a glimpse into the multiplicity of political, social and economic histories and realities across Asia Pacific and Central Asia, as told through contemporary art. I look forward to the interesting dialogue that will arise from this platform, as well as between the 15 finalist artworks, each of which was produced in such diverse contexts."