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Art What!: Singapore Biennale announces four new co-artistic directors for October 2022 edition

Singapore Biennale 2022 Co-Artistic Director team with their eyes closed as an invitation to explore new ways of seeing art. From left: Dr. June Yap, Nida Ghouse, Ala Younis, and Binna Choi. (Photo courtesy of Singapore Art Museum)

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) announces the return of the Singapore Biennale for its seventh edition from 18 October 2022 to 19 March 2023. Helmed by a team of four Co-Artistic Directors, the 2022 edition of the Singapore Biennale (SB2022) brings together four curators from around the world – Binna Choi from South Korea/the Netherlands, Nida Ghouse from India, living in Germany, June Yap from Singapore and Ala Younis from Jordan. The selected team comprises individuals with a strong profile of multi-disciplinary, experimental and participatory practices, and who activate different sites and archives, drawing relations between the historical and contemporary. The Singapore Biennale is a platform for international contemporary art organised by SAM and commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC), Singapore.  

Dr Eugene Tan, Director of SAM, says, “SAM has always envisioned the Singapore Biennale as a key platform for the discourse of Southeast Asian art, and for the deep exploration of the human condition through contemporary art. Over the years, the Biennale has become a distinct mark of Singapore’s position as an art node in the region, connecting artists within the region and bringing them into global conversations on the art of our time. The Biennale seeks to not only present art that speaks to the urgent issues we face today, but also invites audiences to make space for these dialogues and collectively reflect on the role of art in finding a way forward. We are delighted to introduce our Co-Artistic Directors for this upcoming edition to our audiences. Their artistic direction has been shaped in part by the impact of the pandemic on the region over the last two years and the question of what it means to be living in our present conditions.”  

Mrs. Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive Officer of NAC, says, “During this challenging period, art plays an even more important role to heal, uplift and unite people. Since its inception, the Singapore Biennale has been a key cornerstone for Singapore and the region’s arts and culture scene. This has not only paved the way for the development of arts practitioners in the region, but it has been especially timely and important in the present day to bring new perspectives and opportunities for people to engage with and be inspired by art. With a strong team of Co-Artistic Directors from diverse backgrounds, we look forward to seeing fresh collaborations with international artists and communities as a means of catalysing new ideas within the region and internationally, as well as introduce exciting ways for the public to experience art.” 

Southeast Asia’s cultural, social and artistic diversity and multiplicity stems from its long-standing connections with other global influences. In drawing out perspectives from the region as situated within the world, the SB2022 Co-Artistic Directors reflect upon and revisit curatorial approaches and collaborative forms of cultural production, generating renewed perspectives in contemporary art, as well as engaging emerging vocabularies, infrastructures, critiques and narratives that are of interest to the region and beyond.  

  • Binna Choi is the director at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Utrecht since 2008 which has been internationally recognised as an art institution re-modelling itself with dedication to the changing world and collective agency with diverse and inclusive art forms. Choi engages with art and art institutional practice as a way to imagine another world in tandem with social movement, having conceived and developed several long-term, interdisciplinary and collaborative artistic research projects in the fields of art, social movement, and academia.  
  • Nida Ghouse is a writer and curator whose projects span mediums and disciplines, experimenting with ways of staging artistic practices, in relation to activating materials and sites. Her collaborative approach has brought about projects that take shape in a variety of forms, building upon one another and developed over a long period of time. 
  • June Yap is Director of Curatorial & Collections at the Singapore Art Museum, where she oversees the museum’s exhibitions and curatorial programmes. With a deep knowledge of Southeast Asian contemporary art practices and discourse, Yap has been involved in several major projects both in the region and on the international art circuit, which present the perspective of the region in relation to global discourses.  
  • Ala Younis works deeply with archives, different materials and forms to address contemporary situations through the lens of historical phenomena. As an artist and curator, her work explores the impact and influence of representations on society and individuals, and their repercussions across times and geographies. 

The Co-Artistic Directors are committed to the functions and potentials of contemporary art in and after pandemic time. They posit the Biennale as a presence through which art, as well as that which is considered other to art, may be deeply connected to life. Coming together from across distinctive artistic and curatorial practices, cultures, institutions and positions, the Co-Artistic Directors will endeavour to engender forms of curatorial and artistic collectivity. 

In a statement on their process for SB2022, the Co-Artistic Directors explain, “While the region of Southeast Asia remains the Singapore Biennale’s immediate context, this edition will journey through unfamiliar terrains and beyond geography itself. In an attempt to apprehend and grapple with questions pressing for humanity, the Biennale will conceive ways in which to relate to a public without relying on spectacle. Turning away from the conventional preoccupation with the visual, it will dwell instead on interiority, gather around other senses and sensibilities. Artists, curators, researchers and publics will be invited to imagine the possibilities of a biennale, of art and life, and of being.” 

Apart from collaborations with local, regional and international visual art practitioners and art organisations, engagement with the public will be central to SB2022. Audiences can look forward to programmes and encounters with art at multiple sites and contexts, both in Singapore and overseas. 

Further details on the SB2022 curatorial concept and programmes will be revealed in Q1 2022. 

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