Singapore Biennale 2017

This is just a post to sum up on my experience of the Biennale. I went for the biennale twice, once when it first opened and the second time on the last day before the uninstallation.

The first time I went, I hated it. It was public unfriendly. The programme book was so thick. The works in 8Q were incredibly dry. The whole idea of dividing the exhibition into different subsections only served to upset me even more, being a fragmented strategy to keep me in the museum to boggle or bore my mind out. Jessica and I were so uninspired I swore to her I will get to the bottom of this and figure out this Biennale.

And so I did. I went back for the tour on the last day and I would say it did help a little bit. I enjoyed the works better because the tour guide was explaining the smaller details and giving a structure on how each artist saw their particular work to be a mirror or the world. For example, there was this work by Eddy Susanto using ink on canvas. From far, it just seemed to be an ordinary painting with Indian/Indonesian influences. But with the guide, we were encouraged to go closer and see the work. We later found out that the outlines are actually in Javanese script, and later the script changes to reflect other parts of the region that the Panji cycle had been circulated.

At the end of my tour, I felt that maybe the biennale was not that bad after all, as bored as I was. My initial questions still remain, who are the target audience of the biennale, what it wanted people to take away from, and how successful do they think they are at bringing their message across?

For one thing, I’m sure people my age are going there to just look at the works on face level and take photographs for their Instagram while Jessica and I break our heads trying to make sense of this exhibition to feed our hungry souls.

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