New Platforms To Develop Visual Arts Hub


SENI - Singapore 2004


Singapore Art 2005 


Giving Singapore's burgeoning arts scene an added boost are two exciting biennial visual arts launch pads: SENI - Singapore 2004 (SENI) and Singapore Art 2005.


A total framework to provide expanded and alternative international visual arts showcases in Singapore, the two biennials aim to further nurture our visual arts talents, capabilities and audiences nationally, regionally, and internationally. To be held in October this year, SENI is a prequel towards the development of a Singapore Biennale, focusing on the development of Asian contemporary art in the international scene. Singapore Art provides a national visual arts platform for the discovery and development of Singapore artists which will alternate with the proposed Singapore Biennale. The two biennial events are designed as mutually complementary events. Added to the increasing Singapore's presence at international biennales, both events will enhance Singapore's international standing in the visual arts world.


"These are two iconic events to add to the vibrancy of Singapore's arts scene. They represent significant milestones in the development of Singapore into a visual arts hub. I believe they will serve as important avenues that provide new opportunities for Singapore artists, curators and visual art businesses, further cultivate visual arts appreciation and build our visual arts audiences," says Mr Lee Suan Hiang, Chief Executive Officer of National Arts Council and Chairman of SENI - Singapore 2004 Steering Committee.


SENI will present ideas on the theme 'Art and the Contemporary', and promote discourse on socio-cultural influences today through works by Southeast Asian artists in particular. It kickstarts the vision for the proposed Singapore biennale to give greater profile and accessibility to Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art, adding Singapore's own unique voice to the international community of art biennales.


For the first time in a major programme of this scale, an artistic director, Professor Chua Beng Huat from the National University of Singapore's Department of Sociology, has been appointed to conceptualise and guide the programming for SENI. Prof Chua's interests lie in contemporary culture and Asian inter-cultural studies.


" 'Seni' is the modern Malay word for 'art'. As such, it gives immediate reference to our location in Southeast Asia. SENI Singapore signifies Singapore as the venue for the world to engage in exchanges and cultural examinations through contemporary art. This festival aims to reach out to learned and new audiences for contemporary art, with works that engage the senses and the relevance of modern cultural ideas and objects to daily life," says Professor Chua.


SENI - Singapore 2004 will comprise several exhibition components. A main exhibition, Home Fronts, will feature works by urban artist collectives from Singapore, South East Asia and beyond to explore the notion of home in relation to geographical, socio-cultural, economic constraints and location. Other components will include new media projects that investigate the relationship between moving images, location and the audience, and the influence of art history and theory on new media art. Public art projects will also transform some public spaces to explore the relationship between images, urban spaces and the audience. 48 Documents, a multidisciplinary event, consists of a symposium on the overall theme of the festival and various performances taking place continuously over 48 hours.


In addition to the exhibition components, there will be a website and magazine to provide comprehensive information on the artists and curatorial framework, as well as a discursive platform, for the general public.


Says Dr Kwok Kian Woon, Chairman, National Archives of Singapore, National Heritage Board and Co-chairman of SENI - Singapore 2004 Steering Committee, on his vision for art development in Singapore, "The National Heritage Board has over the years presented numerous exhibitions with the aim of developing the museum as a platform for art history and contemporary art practices from Singapore, and as part of a broader framework of global and international developments. SENI looks towards a regional and international perspective, bringing together artists from Singapore, South East Asia and beyond to explore the notion of home in relation to geographical, socio-cultural, economic constraints and location. This is a culture, a heritage, and a history as it unfolds, in a continuous discussion and negotiation, that we are all a part of."


SENI - Singapore 2004 will be held from 1 October to 28 November 2004. It is jointly organised by the National Arts Council and the Singapore Art Museum of National Heritage Board. More information is available in Annexes 1 to 4.


Singapore Art (SA) aims to be the national platform for both outstanding and up-and-coming local visual artists to showcase their latest works, and also be the important avenue to build public appreciation of our diverse visual arts practices. The programme structure of SA is still being developed. To be launched in 2005, it will allow for the showcase of artworks from various genres and medium by Singapore artists, and seek to engage the visual arts community in Singapore through outreach components, public art, platforms for the discovery of new talents, and awards.


For more information, please refer to the attached:

Annex 1 - SENI Singapore 2004 Steering Committee Members

Annex 2 - Profile of Professor Chua Beng Huat

Annex 3 - SENI Curatorial Concept and Framework

Annex 4 - Background of Major Visual Arts Events


For media enqueries, please contact:


Ms Kim May
Corporate Communications Executive, NAC
DID : 6837 9574
Mobile : 9680 5469
E-mail :
Ms Chua Ai Liang
Deputy Director (Programmes and International Development), NAC
DID : 6837 9530
E-mail :
Suenne Megan Tan
Manager (Communications), Singapore Art Museum
DID : 6332 3215
Email :