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NINE
CONCEPTUAL
ZONES

The main title of the Singapore Biennale 2016 is woven through nine ‘conceptual zones’, or subthemes, which locate each artwork in particular curatorial contexts. These zones shape the flow of the Biennale experience, like chapters in a book or sections in a poem. Like the title – ‘An Atlas of Mirrors’ – which is built on the relationship between a collective noun (‘an atlas’ as the collective noun) and what is being thought of collectively (‘mirrors’), these zones are conceptually themed along specifc collective nouns and what they hold together for contemplation and experience. Artworks located within each zone resonate on many levels, and at the same time, all nine zones coincide, intertwine and reflect each other along the conceptual continuum of ‘An Atlas of Mirrors’ as a whole.

Each zone represents concepts, ideas and ways of seeing, as explored in the Biennale artworks

AN EVERYWHERE OF MIRRORINGS
  • geometry & geography
  • mirrors & maps
  • space & place

Space and place are explored and glimpsed through mirrors and cartography, conjuring symmetrical and asymmetrical parallel worlds where the real, surreal, abstract and imaginary overlap.

AN ENDLESSNESS OF BEGINNINGS
  • myths
  • cyclical time
  • ahistorical realities

Contemplating cyclical time brings insight into how myths influence human conditioning; when, and why, story tells more than history; and our lives amidst timespans of elemental substances that transcend human measure.

A PRESENCE OF PASTS
  • cultural & colonial legacies
  • beliefs
  • collective memory

Retrospection reveals the present as a thoroughfare where all realms coincide and are mirrored – where the personal nudges collective memory, the seen implies the unseen, and legacy evokes loss and forgetting.

A CULTURE OF NATURE
  • Nature, Cultured
  • simulacra & the real
  • stewardship of the Earth

Mirroring the dialectical relationship between Nature and Culture, Art evolves from aesthetisation and the ‘perfecting’ of Nature into myriad dimensions, and reconsiders the implications of human presence in the natural world.

A SHARE OF BORDERS
  • nation & geopolitics
  • cultural boundaries
  • shared histories

Walls and boundaries bear witness that overlapping territories are strategically and ideologically mapped and staked; yet is there common ground, belonging to neither party on either side of the drawn line?

A BREATH OF WILLS
  • agency & the limits of representation
  • sites & voices of resistance
  • self & other

Encountering injustice, selves resist, sometimes acting on behalf of others, often at personal cost; yet the silenced, in finding their voice and agency, also face the limits of representation.

A FLOW OF IDENTITIES
  • national & cultural identities
  • cultural & regional imprints
  • memory

Entangled in the contingencies of experience, the concepts and formation of national, regional, cultural and individual identities are recognised as mutable and ever in flux, wavering between being and becoming.

A SOMEWHERE OF ELSEWHERES
  • migratory experiences
  • displacement
  • home & belonging

Displacement, homelessness and alienation in migrant experiences disorientate, amplified by growing distrust and fear, and the ongoing threat of the violence of war; still, a dream of belonging somewhere glimmers.

A PAST OF ABSENCES
  • marginalised & fictive histories
  • psychogeography
  • ‘what ifs’

Reimagined from unusual perspectives, marginalised histories and fictive micronarratives seek the fissures in the landscape of memory, and find the chasms in history – gaping between individuals, communities, nations and regions.