11 September – 16 November 2008


(Vernissage:  9 – 10 September 2008)





The Singapore Biennale 2008 (SB2008), Singapore’s premier international contemporary visual arts event, organised by the National Arts Council, will open from 11 September to16 November 2008. Led by Artistic Director Fumio Nanjo and curators Joselina Cruz and Matthew Ngui, the Biennale will feature 137 artworks by 66 artists and art collectives from over 36 countries and regions including Singapore.


SB2008 highlights Singapore’s prominence as an international visual arts hub, not only providing new opportunities for Singapore artists, curators and arts businesses, but also as a key enabler of exchange and collaborations for the global arts community. The presence of SB2008 is also a significant opportunity for the Singaporean public to develop a stronger relationship with contemporary art.



SB2008, through its theme WONDER, proposes to investigate the articulation and creation of marvels, riddles and illusions in our world today. Its conceptual scope issues a challenge to the contemporary world, a world that no longer questions choices, nor allows for things and events to awe us. Through contemporary art, Wonder calls on us to question and be curious; to reach beyond the surface, surpassing the apparent and to allow ourselves be surprised, awed, tantalised and challenged. All of which is an aperture to the World.


“The artworks selected or to be newly developed with the artists, will attempt to cut through the fabric of the politically and socially constructed and perceptual limits, of our world,” Artistic Director Fumio Nanjo remarks.  “These call upon us to question and be curious, to punch through surfaces of what is apparent so that we can be surprised, tantalised and challenged at what is revealed or presented. Consequently, some of these works also engage our minds and our senses upon terrain that is unexplained, unfamiliar and, at times, seemingly consistent with trickery, or present things of unutterable beauty, that we are held at awe in their presence.”



This exhibition will showcase an illustrious list of established and emerging artists whose works engender wonder about the world we live in. The present artist list includes artists from Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas, such as Ilya and Emilia Kabakov,Deborah KellyIsak BerbicHans Op de BeeckAnthony McCallIsaac Montoya,Faisal SamraFujiko NakayaKi-bong Rhee, and Felice Varini, to Southeast Asia and Singapore, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Heman Chong, Shubigi Rao, Tang Ling Nah, Willy Koh and Sherman Ong. All produce sharp, wonderful work that provide apertures and prisms of possibilities and hope, through which we can gaze at the world.


While Nakaya surprises with her appearing and disappearing fog, Op de Beeck will immerse you in a meditative architectural scape of infinite beauty and solitude.  Varini and Tang literally paint and draw in space, making marks that question, yet unquestionably engage our relationship with those spaces. Kelly develops works that allow us to critique yet contribute to the social and political structure that we call home. The Kabakovs, Aquilizans, Chong and Goh focus on the minutiae of our lives and present ironic statements that cause us to rethink what we often take for granted. Rhee and Rao poetically suggest re-considerations of what is presented in our faces. McCall and Samra in their keen knowledge of film, video and their tendency to be perceived in conventional ways, critique and re-present the moving image in exciting ways. Montoya, Berbic and Ong clearly present images that at the outset seem true but look deeper and other truths are liberated, often in contrast to what we are led to believe.


Skepticism, criticism and doubt are intrinsic to creative thinking and the methodology as the artist engages with a process filled with wonderment in the development and execution of the artwork. As such, and without boundaries, there are varied approaches and media, from drawing and sculpture, photography and video, to new and mixed-media installations, indicating yet again the breadth of contemporary art practice. Some of these will be of a site-specific manner occupying internal and outdoor spaces, developed for SB2008.


Individually, these works present unique visions as they question conventional ways of seeing and encourage us to entertain new or different ways in which we can link ourselves to the world. In the collective presentation of such artworks, SB2008 seeks to intelligently, yet intuitively, interrogate our belief and trust in theories, logic, science and technology, politics, and economics that consciously regulate and consume the world we live in.



Key to the exhibition is also in the selection of venues within walking distance that are best able to present, engage and inform the experience of the artworks.  SB2008 focuses on creating the journey of wonder through two large indoor spaces and a connecting outdoor area. 


The historic City Hall and South Beach Development, a cluster of Art Deco colonial buildings that is synonymous with the Singapore Volunteer Corps, bookend the entire exhibition.  The ambience and environment of the two indoor locations are poles apart, providing very distinct colours to the experience and engagement of the artworks.


Linking the two indoor venues is the Marina Bay Area, a location that itself speaks of wonderous ambition as it gets ready to be the new hot spot come 2010, with the opening of the Integrated Resort, new Financial Centre and a heritage waterfront development. Featuring a number of large-scale interactive and engaging outdoor installations, the waterbody of the Marina Bay serves as a focal point in connecting these works as you journey from the recently opened Singapore Flyer to the Central Promontory Site.



Central to the vernissage will be the official opening of SB 2008 by the Senior Minister ofSingapore, Goh Chok Tong on the evening of 9 September 2008 at the South Beach Development.  Transformed into a Wonder-Land, the event will feature a number of specially commissioned works and performance presentations related to the artworks showcased.  Like in 2006, participating artists and the international art world and media will come together to celebrate the launch of this iconic contemporary art event in Singapore.



A major part of the Biennale programming involves cultivating a deeper public engagement with contemporary art. This will be conducted through the Encounters series of talks, workshops and events. These regular dialogue sessions provide a discursive platform for Singaporeans to voice issues and concerns pertinent to art and society.  The sessions also serve as feedback mechanisms for the Biennale as it is being organised, developing a sense of ownership from various segments of the local community for this large scale event.


SB2008 is committed to building new arts audiences and broadening arts participation. A series of art education and outreach programmes for schools has been developed to inspire, instill and engage through participation.


The Kids’ Biennale is a new addition for children aged 7 to 12 years old, designed to introduce primary school children to both art techniques and concepts.  Since January this year, more than 8000 students from 35 schools have participated in the ‘Alice in Wonderland Learning Journey’, an educational programme developed by SB2008 and Little Art Bug Workshop. During the Biennale, artworks created by the students will be displayed in the Kid’s Zone at City Hall.


The SB2008 theme of Wonder is unleashed onto all our programmes, which includes a designated Kid’s Zone at City Hall, a series of events called Kid’s Day Out, art competitions and other activities. These art spaces and activities aim to nurture and celebrate the creative energies of children, giving them a sense of the wonder of art. For details of activities, visit


Students from the secondary schools and junior colleges have not been left out.  A specially developed Contemporary Art Pack called Wonder (How We Got Here) is essentially an educational resource designed to enhance the appreciation and understanding of contemporary art through key conceptual tools. The SB2008 Art Pack is a two-part programme which includes a video of a performance lecture and a structured visit to the SB2008, to be conducted by the teacher or a facilitator. In addition, the peer-led guiding system provides opportunities for students to be trained to lead their peers on a personalised tour of the exhibition.


School visits to SB 2008 will enjoy 50% discounted student tickets. A complimentary short guide will be given per class. Bookings for school visits started from 2 June onwards. A volunteer guide can be provided upon availability.  Information is available



SB2008 has a Volunteer Programme to engage different communities. Some 500 volunteers will help run the daily operations and be at the frontline of the Biennale. They will be the bridge to bring contemporary art to the lives of Singaporeans.


SB2008 also aims to bring art into the lives of Singaporeans through partnership with various organisations to help spread the Wonder. Partners include The Arts House, Art Outreach, LASALLE College of the Arts, National University of Singapore, National Library Board, People’s Association, Republic Polytechnic, SAGE, Substation, and schools.


We hope to extend our reach to children from children’s homes and children with special needs as Art is able to inspire, refresh and restore beyond the limits of language and culture and should be available to everyone. We will be identifying partners to assist in delivering this programme, to open up the wonderous world of contemporary art through the SB2008. 



SB2008 encompasses parallel programmes organised by various museums, art institutions, galleries, and art associations in Singapore. These exhibitions and events showcase works by established artists and emerging talent as well as the diversity of art practices and trends in Singapore.



Art Compass 2008 is a new initiative developed by the leading contemporary art events in the Asia-Pacific region; the Biennales of Sydney, Gwangju, Shanghai and Singapore, and the Yokohama Triennale. Art Compass 2008 is a travel packaging device to encourage contemporary art lovers to visit the events in an organised itinerary. The proposed package tour provides visitors with an unprecedented opportunity to experience five extraordinary and innovative contemporary art events from September 2008 through to November 2008.Art Compass 2008 will actively promote visitation to the Closing Week events of the Biennale of Sydney (30 August - 7 September) and the Opening Previews of the Gwangju Biennale (5 September), Shanghai Biennale (8 September), Singapore Biennale (9 &10 September) and Yokohama Triennale (12 September). For more information, please visit


Please refer to the following annexes for more information:

Annex 1 - List of SB2008 Artists

Annex 2 - Profile of Curatorial Team

Annex 3 - About Exhibition Venues

Annex 4 - Schedule of Events

Annex 5 - Parallel Programmes

Annex 6 - Quick Facts

Annex 7 - Sponsors & Partners


About the Singapore Biennale

Organised by the National Arts Council, Singapore, the Singapore Biennale aims to position Singapore prominently as an international centre and regional thought leader in the field of visual art. It encourages Singapore artists and Singapore to engage with the international art world, through the invitation of regional and international artists to exhibit with Singapore artists, and for Singapore to join the international community of art biennales whose language is mainly conducted through the medium of contemporary art. As a platform for collaborations with the global arts community, the Biennale provides new opportunities for local visual artists and arts businesses, and is a significant opportunity to cultivate deeper public engagement with the arts.  It complements the achievements of other areas of the arts and cultural scene, collectively enhancing Singapore’s international image as a vibrant city to live, work, play. 


About the National Arts Council (Singapore)

The National Arts Council (NAC) was established in September 1991 to spearhead the development of the arts in Singapore. To realise its vision of developing Singapore into a distinctive global city for the arts, NAC provides total support to nurture artistic talent, promotes the practice and appreciation of the arts among Singaporeans, builds up capabilities and resources, facilitates internationalisation and advocates the value of the arts. Through its holistic range of programmes and initiatives to develop the entire arts value chain, the Council champions the growth of a vibrant arts sector where the arts is accessible to all, and the community of artists, arts groups and arts businesses can innovate, excel and achieve sustainability in the long term.