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Jul 26 2021

Singapore Sends First All-Women Creative Team to Venice Biennale

by Suining Sim

UTE META BAUER will curate artist SHUBIGI RAO’s presentation for the Singapore Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. Courtesy National Arts Council, Singapore.

On July 26, Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) named multidisciplinary artist Shubigi Rao and curator Ute Meta Bauer as the first all-women team to lead the city-state’s presentation at the 59th Venice Biennale, slated to open in 2022.

The forthcoming Pavilion will mark Singapore’s tenth entry in the Biennale. Though details of the exhibition are yet to be released, the co-chair of NAC’s commissioning panel, Ahmad Mashadi, praised the proposal’s “universal appeal and ability to connect with diverse cultural contexts.” According to Mashadi, “Both Rao and Bauer have exceptional records of practice one can describe to be global, but critically grounded to Singapore. Their approaches run alongside their capacities as educators, and we are confident that their efforts for the Biennale Arte can serve as a valuable reference to successive generations of artists and curators in Singapore.”

Rao is known for exploring knowledge systems with her long-term, multidisciplinary projects that incorporate drawings, etchings, publications, photography, videos, and multimedia installations. In 2014, she began visiting public and private archives around the world for her most notable work, Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book (2014– ). The decade-long film, book, and visual art project manifests as a five-book series on the history of book destruction, censorship, and cultural genocide. Rao has exhibited widely, with works included in the Taipei Biennial (2016), Pune Biennale (2017), and the upcoming Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Australia (2021–22). She is currently curating the fifth Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which is scheduled to open in November this year.

Bauer brings more than three decades of curatorial experience, including participation in previous editions of the Venice Biennale. She commissioned the Nordic Pavilion in 2003, and co-curated the United States Pavilion in 2015, which was awarded an honorary mention for the best national pavilion by the international jury. Other notable curatorial collaborations include co-directing the 2012 World Biennial Forum No. 1 in Gwangju with Hou Hanru, and working as part of Okwui Enwezor’s team for documenta 11 in Kassel in 2002. Bauer is currently a professor at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and the founding director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore.

The 59th Venice Biennale, “The Milk of Dreams,” is curated by Cecilia Alemani. It will run from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

Suining Sim is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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