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Singapore Biennale 2019 – Every step in the right direction

November 22, 2019 @ 9:00 amMarch 22, 2020 @ 6:00 pm SMT


SINGAPORE – The Singapore Biennale will return for its sixth edition from Nov 22, 2019, to March 22, 2020, said the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) on Friday (Dec 14).

The Biennale, a platform for international dialogue in contemporary art, is commissioned by the National Arts Council and organized by SAM, Singapore Art Museum.

The Singapore Biennale was established in 2006 as the country’s pre-eminent platform for international dialogue in contemporary art. It presents and reflects the vigor of artistic practices in Singapore and the region within a global context, and fosters productive collaborations and deep engagement with artists, arts organizations, and the international arts community.

The Singapore Biennale cultivates public engagement with contemporary art through a four-month exhibition, and its accompanying public engagement and education programmes that include artist and curator talks and tours, school visits and workshops, and community days. It complements achievements in other areas of arts and culture, collectively enhancing Singapore’s international profile as a vibrant city in which to live, work and play.

The 2006 and 2008 editions of the Biennale were organized by the National Arts Council. The NAC commissioned the Singapore Art Museum to organize 2011, 2013 and 2016 editions. SAM will continue to do so for Singapore Biennale 2019 and 2022.

The Biennale’s artistic director Patrick Flores said in a statement: “The practice of these artists conveys the energy of Singapore Biennale 2019. It responds to the need to reflect on the condition of our time and invites a broad public to do this in the always shifting, and thus always urgent, contexts of contemporary art.”

Artistic Director’s Statement:

It may be said that the world is troubled. To sense such a state of flux is to begin to face it. What are the possibilities 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 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 every day but the 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
Artistic Director
Singapore Biennale 2019


November 22, 2019 @ 9:00 am SMT
March 22, 2020 @ 6:00 pm SMT
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Singapore Art Museum
SAM at 8Q: 8 Queen Street
Singapore, 188535 Singapore
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