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Singapore Biennale 4th Edition: Recap

With the fourth edition coming to a close on 16 February, we look back at the diverse range of works that have responded to the Biennale title: If the World Changed…

Singapore Biennale 4th Edition: Recap


February 10th, 2014

You have till this weekend (16 February) to catch the wide-ranging works of the 2013 Singapore Biennale, all of which invite audiences to re-consider and re-imagine the world we live in. The artworks are by over 80 artists with links to Southeast Asia, and more than half are new commissions. They include: Rukunegara 1: Belief in God (2013) by Zulkifli Yusoff, Malaysia Singapore Biennale The Rukunegara is a Malaysian national ideology and was intended to restore unity and foster nation-building, in reaction to the racial riots of 13 May 1969. Suspended between the floor and ceiling, the work by Zulkifli Yusoff calls our attention to the first of these national principles – belief in God. Cosmology of Life (2013) by Toni Kanwa, Indonesia Singapore Biennale These miniature, talisman-like sculptures express Kanwa’s worldview of nature, spirituality, and the macro and micro cosmos. His creative process follows a special ritual, informed by his past investigations of sacred knowledge and practices in Indonesia. Peace Can Be Realized Even Without Order (2013) by teamLab, Japan teamlab In this interactive, animated diorama, the cut-out figures interact with one another and also react to the viewer’s presence. As viewers navigate around the space, motion sensors are set off to create an organic response – a symphony of sound and movement. Referencing primitive dance and indigenous festivals in Japan, where an entire symphony of music and dance can be orchestrated without a conductor, teamLab re-imagines an alternative world where individuals can similarly co-exist without prohibition. Rainbow Circle: Capturing a Natural Phenomenon (2013) by Suzann Victor, born in Singapore, based in Australia Singapore Biennale In Rainbow Circle, modified green technology and the science of optics are applied to nature’s elements, creating a spectral ring whose changing form can neither be fixed nor traced back to any point of origin. Symbolically, the rainbow is widely associated with luck and happiness, but its ephemeral nature also points to the darker side of pursuing dreams – of ‘chasing rainbows’. The metaphorically loaded work thus considers a world where change and hope are entwined with inertia and futility. Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations (2012-13) by Ken + Julia Yonetani, based in Australia. Singapore Biennale Conceived in response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the work comprises 31 chandeliers that have been refitted with uranium glass and UV lighting; once switched on, the UV bulbs cause the glass beads to glow a haunting green. The 31 pieces signal the 31 nuclear nations of the world, and the work’s title references the grandiose building designed for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, hinting at the tension between human ambition, technological development, and its costs and consequences. Moment (2013) by Grace Tan, born in Malaysia, based in Singapore Grace Tan This site-specific installation is informed by Tan’s pursuit of a deeper meaning of self in response to the world. The glowing, handmade installation, constructed using a combination of industrial materials, embodies humans’ instinctive nature to make and create. The hand underscores the intention of making – making hope, meaning, memory, and connection. Wormhole (2013) by Eko Prawoto, Indonesia eko In Indonesian folklore, the mountain is regarded as an axis which mediates between the earth and the heavens; this idea is echoed in the title of this work, which refers to a theoretical opening in the galaxy in which one can travel across time and space, as well as to the passage through earth created by an earthworm. Inside the installation, the slow passage of time as seen through the skylights, as well as the scent and texture of bamboo, recall a time when we may have lived more intimately with these sensations and materials. Your Eyes are Stupid (2013) by Joo Choon Lin, Singapore Singapore Biennale Various technologies of representation have devised new ways of capturing the likeness of things. How does this affect our sensory experience of the surfaces of things? How has the psychological and emotional affect of things changed? To explore these questions, the artist has experimented with a range of materials and media and created a series of interactive works. Specula (2009) by Nguyen Oanh Phi Phi, born in the USA, based in Vietnam and Spain (top image) Vietnamese lacquer is a medium that embodies Vietnam’s complex history and Specula is Latin for ‘mirror’. This work thus serves as a mirror through which the artist examines her

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transnational identity as a Viet Kieu (a Vietnamese living abroad). For more information on the 2013 Singapore Biennale, visit

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