More Community Arts and Culture Nodes bring the arts to the heartlands


Commissioning Panel selects contemporary artist, Charles Lim and curator, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, for the Singapore Pavilion



Singapore, 24 April 2014 – The National Arts Council (NAC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Singapore artist, Charles Lim and curator, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, as the artistic team to represent Singapore at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Their proposal, SEA STATE, was the strongest out of the eight proposals NAC received.


 2          Says Dr Eugene Tan, Director of the National Gallery, Singapore and Co-Chair of the Commissioning Panel, “After carefully reviewing the proposals that we received, the panel were convinced by the proposal of Charles and Mustafa, as well as their close artistic partnership. Their proposed exhibition will serve as a culmination of Charles’ on-going body of work, SEA STATE, which has been widely exhibited in various forms to critical acclaim. Exploring issues such as the environment, territorial borders and de-territorialisation, their proposal demonstrates how artists can speak to international audiences, such as the international art industry that congregates at the Venice Biennale, while engaging with issues that are specific and locally determined. Charles’ practice, together with his collaboration with Mustafa, ensures that Singapore’s representation at the Venice Biennale will possess the intellectual and artistic conditions for stimulating artistic discourse and interest in contemporary art practice in Singapore.”


 3          SEA STATE looks at the notions of borders, histories and everyday life, and how these may be generated through our perceptions of the sea. Says curator, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, “The Singapore Pavilion presents a wonderful opportunity for us to explore how Charles’ practice and his work, SEA STATE, will interact with ongoing debates in the global contemporary art world. Charles has already received critical acclaim for past works at international events such as Venice Film Festival in 2011; and prior to that at Documenta 11, as part of the net art collective In many ways, Singapore and Venice will meet through the sea itself, and we are keen to see how more of such discussions will be generated along the way as we develop and display the work.” Artist, Charles Lim, adds, “We are honoured to be chosen to represent Singapore for Venice Biennale 2015. Following the brilliant success of the last two Singapore representatives, I hope that our work, SEA STATE, will make a similar impact on international audiences, continue to show them the amazing work our artists are capable of, and give them a glimpse into the vibrancy of our artistic scene here in Singapore.”


 4          The Commissioning Panel invited a pool of artists and curators to submit proposals for this project. This is in place of the open call process NAC used to conduct for the Singapore Pavilion. The Commissioning Panel will continue to mentor the selected team, and share their professional perspective and expertise, in preparation for the presentation in Venice.  


 5          The members of the Commissioning Panel include representatives from the arts community. Co-chaired by Ms Kathy Lai, CEO of NAC, and Dr Eugene Tan, Director of The National Gallery, Singapore, the panel comprises the following members:

  • Mr Ahmad Mashadi, Head, NUS Museum
  • Dr Charles Merewether, Visiting Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University
  • Ms Emi Eu, Director, Singapore Tyler Print Institute
  • Ms June Yap, Independent Curator
  • Mr Randy Chan, Principal Architect, Zarch Collaboratives
  • Dr Susie Lingham, Director, Singapore Art Museum


 6          Says Ms Kathy Lai, CEO, NAC and Co-Chair of the Commissioning Panel, “The Venice Biennale remains an important platform for Singapore’s visual artists to be represented as it is a premium international contemporary art event. We want to continue to raise Singapore’s profile as an emerging centre in Asia for artistic production and research, to enlarge opportunities for our artists to showcase their work, and to enable them to build international networks.” She adds, “I am excited about the artistic team the Panel has chosen and am looking forward to what they will bring to the presentation. I would like to thank the Commissioning Panel for their expertise and hard work over the past few months, and I am confident that the Singapore presentation at Venice Biennale 2015 will be an exciting and successful one.”


7          Biographies of the artistic team can be found in the Appendix.