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.

Singapore Contemporary 2017

This is a “on hindsight” post because it is beyond belated. I forgot I attended these events so now that I remember I shall add on.

I went for Singapore Contemporary on the second last day and there were not many interesting artworks left. Perhaps the fair was not catered to those who just wanted to appreciate and view the works without buying. I saw many Chinese paintings which I assume are from the mainland. And there was a stretch of galleries from Australia. Otherwise, the galleries were quite random but not as diverse as Art Stage. It was not as accessible as Art Stage in my opinion, where the works chosen were so (for the lack of a better word) boring to those who do not do art. It was not as colourful, as arresting or as inventive.  

Definitely the choice of venue – Suntec City Convention Hall was less impressive than Marina Bay Sands’ and it resulted in the lack of energy. The ushers hired did not add on to my experience. Some of them talked among themselves and ignored me while attending to this man who looked like he could afford art (compared to me, that is). I understood that these people were paid, whereas in Art Stage, most were volunteers and hence the difference in attitude? I also noticed that the dynamics it attracted was very different, since there was nobody else my age. Most were art-buyers, or adults at least. 

I ended up getting more bored than my sister who doesn’t even like such things.

The nicest thing that happened was this artist from Australia, Emma Hack, talked to everybody going into her gallery (including those who were just curious and not buying) and she shared snippets of her work. She was the lady who painted Gotye in his “Somebody I Used to Know” music video. Her works were one of the most colourful. You can check it out. 

Art Stage Singapore 2017

Art Stage this year was from 11 to 15 Jan. It is usually my favourite big scale art exhibition, next to the Affordable Art Fair. I helped out for three days, doing front-of-house, gallery sitting and patrolling.

The art works this year were noticeably less arresting. There weren’t big installations or controversial works that caught my attention unlike the black goldfishes last year, or even the many sculptures the year before. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my volunteering experience this year so much more because the management was great.

The biggest takeaway was learning the importance of crisis management, and also how important the first aid kit was.