Singapore Biennale returns for its 6th edition, with 77 artists and art collectives from Singapore, Southeast Asia and around the world. Titled Every Step in the Right Direction, the international contemporary art exhibition invites participation through the act of artistic exploration, drawing on the importance of making choices and taking steps to consider current conditions and the human endeavour for change.
Find out more with the Singapore Biennale exhibition guide here.
Artistic Director’s Statement
Singapore Biennale 2019:
Every Step in the Right Direction
It may be said that the world is troubled. To sense such a state of flux is to begin to face it. 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? Every effort to change the world for the better matters. The Singapore Biennale 2019 puts its faith squarely in the potential of art (and its understanding) to rework the world, expressed in the Biennale title: Every Step in the Right Direction.
In this examination of act and action, the Biennale then considers the necessity of the step, that is prompted by the Biennale’s geography, itself spanning nodes and locations across the city of Singapore, thus inviting audiences to be inspired in an exploration. Furthermore, we observe this everyday but decisive act of walking in artistic practices, such as of Singapore artist, Amanda Heng. Utilising the act of walking in a number of performances (for example, Let’s Walk, first performed in 1999), Heng presents her audience with moments for moving forward, looking back, turning inward, venturing outward with others, in so doing, engendering reflection, the speculation or adoption of other perspectives, and the consideration of pasts.
As artistic director of the Singapore Biennale 2019 and a scholar of Southeast Asian art, in my effort to deepen the conversation on the need for an ethical gesture in our time and in history, 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. In relation to art and its investigation of material and its ecologies, it might then be that this counterintuition restores hope as a medium of continuous conversions and as a method of getting things done the right way, but only in light of steps taken and decisions made about the right direction. Informed by such an impulse, SB2019 offers a sustainable, self-renewing project of change, and moves everyone to act – to make a step.Patrick Flores
Singapore Biennale 2019
Singapore Art Museum is a contemporary art museum which focuses on art-making and art-thinking in Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia, encompassing a worldwide perspective on contemporary art practice. SAM advocates and makes accessible interdisciplinary contemporary art through research-led and evolving curatorial practice.
Since it opened in January 1996, SAM has built up one of the most important collections of contemporary art from the region. It seeks to seed and nourish a stimulating and creative space in Singapore through exhibitions and public programmes, and to deepen every visitor’s experience. These include outreach and education, research and publications, as well as cross-disciplinary residencies and exchanges.
SAM occupies two buildings: the old St Joseph’s Institution on Bras Basah Road, built in 1855 and now a National Monument; and SAM at 8Q, a conservation building across the road on Queen Street that was the old Catholic High School. The museum buildings are currently closed for a major building revamp, with museum programming continuing at partner venues until the buildings re-open.
SAM was the organiser of the Singapore Biennale in 2011, 2013 and 2016, as well as the current edition in 2019. SAM was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee on 13 November 2013, operating under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. To find out more, visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg.
The National Arts Council champions the arts in Singapore. By nurturing creative excellence and supporting broad audience engagement, our diverse and distinctive arts inspire our people, connect communities and profile Singapore internationally. We preserve our rich, cultural traditions while we cultivate accomplished artists and vibrant companies for the future. Our support for the arts is comprehensive – from grants and partnerships to industry facilitation and arts housing. The Council welcomes greater private and corporate giving to and through the arts so that together we can make the arts an integral part of everyone's lives. For more information on the Council's mission and plans, visit www.nac.gov.sg.