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Jan 24 2019

Theme And Title Announced For Singapore Biennale 2019

by Julee WJ Chung

*Last updated January 28, 2019.

The Singapore Art Museum announced on January 24 that the 2019 Singapore Biennale is titled “Every Step in the Right Direction.” Artistic director Patrick Flores (pictured, center) will lead a team of six curators including (left to right, excluding Flores): John Tung, Goh Sze Ying, Renan Laru-an, Andrea Fam, Anca Verona Mihulet, and Vipash Purichanont. Courtesy Singapore Art Museum. 

On January 24, the Singapore Art Musuem (SAM) annouced the title and theme of the 2019 Singapore Biennale, which will take place across multiple venues, including the National Gallery Singapore and Gillman Barracks, from November 22, 2019 to March 22, 2020.

Helmed by artistic director Patrick Flores and a team of six curators, the Biennale will explore choice, hope, and artistic possibilities for enacting positive change under the title “Every Step in the Right Direction.” Flores stated in the press release: “It may be said that the world is troubled. To sense such a state of flux is to acknowledge the situation and begin to face it. For Singapore Biennale 2019: we ask—what is the possibility of art, the artist, and the audience in light of this trouble? What is the responsibility of the artwork, its making, and its experience in the prospects of future action? As we believe, every effort to change the world for the better matters.”

On the inspiration for the title, Flores remarked: “I recall the words of Salud Algabre, who, in the 1930s in the Philippines, played a central role in a peasant movement that did not appear to achieve its immediate intentions. Responding to a scholar on the perception of its failure, Algabre reasoned that no movement fails, ‘each one is a step in the right direction.’ This apparently counterintuitive reply opens up for rethinking the condition of failure and the chance at transformation.”

The international curatorial team includes SAM assistant curators Andrea Fam and John Tung; National Gallery Singapore assistant curator Goh Sze Ying; Manila-based independent researcher and curator Renan Laru-an; art historian and Seoul-based independent curator Anca Verona Mihulet; and Bangkok-based independent curator Vipash Purichanont.

Still from VANDY RATTANA’s Funeral, 2018, film with color, sound: 45 min 9 sec. Funeral will be screened as part of the Singapore Biennale preview program on January 26. Courtesy the artist.
Still from VANDY RATTANA’s Funeral, 2018, film with color, sound: 45 min 9 sec. Funeral will be screened as part of the Singapore Biennale preview program on January 26. Courtesy the artist.
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SAM also announced that on January 26, during Singapore Art Week, the museum will offer a preview of the Biennale via artist-curator talks, film screenings, and experimental performances. The program will feature four artists: Thai filmmaker and sound artist Arnont Nongyao; Singapore-based sound artist Zai Tang; Singaporean multimedia artist Dennis Tan; and Cambodian photographer and filmmaker Vandy Rattana.  

The full list of participating artists will be released later in 2019.

Julee WJ Chung is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

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

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