In-the-Skin-of-a-Tiger-Monument-to-What-We-Want-(Tugu-Kita)-by-Sharon-Chin_resized-Singapore Biennale
In the Skin of a Tiger: Monument to What We Want (Tugu Kita) by Sharon Chin, pictured on Nov 20, 2019. (Photo: Jason Quah/The Straits Times)

The Singapore Biennale is back from 22 November, 2019 to 22 March, 2020. The four-month event, set to the title “Every Step In The Right Direction”, features artworks by more than 70 artists and collectives from South-east Asia and beyond in about 10 venues—such as the National Gallery Singapore, Gillman Barracks and Lasalle College of the Arts.

The public can also look out for performances, talks and other events, some of which are happening on the opening weekend: Phare, The Battambang Circus will perform a circus show at Far East Plaza, and Taiwanese artist Chang En-Man will prepare and wrap aboriginal millet dumplings with snails at the Telok Ayer Arts Club.

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Phare,-the-Battambang-Circus,-Phum-Style-(performance)_-images-courtesy-of-the-Artists_resized-Singapore Biennale
Phare, the Battambang Circus Phum Style (performance) / Photo: Courtesy of the artists

The Singapore Biennale is organised by the Singapore Art Museum and helmed by artistic director Patrick Flores, working alongside six other curators.

“I’d like to consider the title as an invitation for the public to think about the world we are in today, and an inspiration for them to take steps to make it better, or do something different about it,” says Dr Flores.

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“We want to widen the art sphere of the biennale as a platform. The biennale has been subjected to criticism that it has become an echo-chamber in the contemporary art world. So we want to extend (it) beyond the normal precincts of the art world to reach out to a wider audience. This is why I conceptualised a ‘festival seminar’ model so the biennale addresses different concerns. I want to recover the joy, and the pleasure of the public encountering or confronting a rich diversity of media through contemporary art.”

Laurie-Anderson-and-Hsin-Chien-Huang_-La-camera-insabbiata-(The-Chalkroom)-(video-stills)_-images-courtesy-of-the-Artists_resized-Singapore Biennale
La camera insabbiata (The Chalkroom) by Laurie Anderson and Hsin Chien Huang / Photo: Courtesy of the artists

This year, five artists involved in the biennale have also been shortlisted for the Benesse Prize, which comes with a cash award of 3,000,000 yen (S$37,500) and the chance to have their works exhibited or collected at Benesse Art Site Naoshima in Japan.

The prize was presented at the prestigious Venice Biennale between 1995 and 2013 and has been awarded at the Singapore Biennale since 2016, when it was given to Thai artist Pannaphan Yodmanee for her large-scale mixed-media mural.

This year’s finalists are Singapore performance artist Amanda Heng, who is revisiting her Let’s Walk series; Robert Zhao Renhui from Singapore, for his cabinet of curiosities with objects from the forest next to Gillman Barracks; Thai artist Dusadee Huntrakul who has reproduced 16 ceramic reproductions of ancient pots, with modern inscriptions next to them; Turkish artist Hera Buyuktasciyan for her wood and metal installations; and Haifa Subay from Yemen who has created nine murals responding to issues such as child recruitment and the casualties of landmines.

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Here are some of the highlights not to be missed:

WHERE: Singapore Biennale is held at National Gallery Singapore, Gillman Barracks, Lasalle College of the Arts, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore Art Museum (hoarding), SAM at 8Q (hoarding), National Museum of Singapore, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, National Library, SMU de Suantio Gallery, Far East Plaza, Wild Rice @ Funan

WHEN: Nov 22 November, 2019 to 22 March, 2020

ADMISSION: Free and ticketed. Merdeka and Pioneer Generation card holders can attend ticketed venues (but not ticketed events) for free.

INFO: Visit Additional events have also been held in collaboration with groups such as Drama Box and the Indian Heritage Centre.

This article originally appeared on The Straits Times.