Singapore Biennale 2006 - Belief



BELIEF is the theme for Singapore’s first visual arts biennale, Singapore Biennale 2006 (SB2006). If today’s world has painfully called into question many certainties governing society, history and humankind, can it also be described as an era of uncertainty in which the very subject of belief is in question? In the context of this so-called crisis of values, what do we individually and collectively believe in? Do we act on our beliefs or is belief simply a mindless act? Are the religious beliefs communicated by the great faiths more relevant than the secular beliefs in science, progress, democracy and politics that succeeded them? Or has the conflict between the two spawned such states of violent and ethical extremism in the service of religious and economic power that belief in anything appears incomprehensible? Are we beyond belief or at the threshold of its revival? 


SB2006 aims to address the complexities that surround and inform some of these questions. Through a diverse selection of international contemporary art practices, including artists from Singapore and its neighbouring regions, the biennale sets out to create a reflection rather than a representation of contemporary art’s relationship with the subject of belief. In turn, this process of reflection will also examine the question of belief in relation to the system of art itself. With its longstanding relationship to religious and secular systems of thought, what are the inherent values of contemporary art today?


Artistic Director Fumio Nanjo and his curatorial team will present the Biennale across a collection of venues, including museums, religious spaces, public institutions and disused buildings. Traversing the city, some of the exhibition sites will include the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, National Museum of Singapore, Sri Krishnan Temple, The Armenian Church of St Gregory the Illuminator and Tanglin Camp. Together, these selected sites provide a local perspective onto one of the unique features that characterise Singapore, among other things, as a multi-religious and multi-cultural society, where many seemingly conflicting beliefs appear to co-exist alongside one other. Additionally, many of the chosen venues, most obviously the religious spaces, also provide a historical context through which to reflect on the critical relationship played by architecture in the construction of belief. Paradoxically, sites of religious worship in Singapore continue to draw a retinue of worshippers, whilst, the ‘great temples of culture’ represented by museums, remain significant, for their lack of devoted followers.


SB2006 is a culmination of the growth of Singapore’s artists and achievements in visual arts at home and abroad.  It 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.


18 artists and collectives have accepted invitations to participate in SB2006 to-date.  They include internationally renowned artists Barbara Kruger and Yayoi Kusama. Kruger is known for her iconic photo/text montages that address cultural representations of power, identity and sexuality, while Kusama’s trademark polka dots, in obsessive and repetitive patterns, have made her one of the most influential and widely-collected artists of our time.  SB2006 will also feature performance artists Jonathan Allen and Rizman Putra, known for their performance alter-egos Tommy Angel and Manic Jango respectively.  Also in the first list of confirmed artists are: Jane Alexander, Sheba Chhachhi, George Chua, Alwyn Lim and Yuen Chee Wai, Santiago Cucullu, Federico Herrero, Ho Tzu Nyen, Zai Kuning, Learning Site (Cecilia Wendt, Rikke Luther, Julio Castro and Brett Bloom), Donna Ong, Handiwirman Saputra, Nakhee Sung and Erika Tan.  Please refer to Annex 1 for their profiles.


The full list of participating artists and exhibition venues will be announced in Spring 2006.


Please find the following annexes enclosed for information:

 Annexes  – About the Artists
   – About the Exhibition Sites
   – Profiles of Curatorial Team


About Singapore Biennale 2006

Organized by the National Arts Council (Singapore) in partnership with the National Heritage Board of Singapore, SB2006 opens to the public from 4 September to 12 November 2006. The first international contemporary art exhibition is curated by Fumio Nanjo, internationally reputed for having headed the programming and adjudication of major art events throughout the world.


As the anchor cultural event for Singapore 2006: Global City. World of Opportunities, SB2006 provides the platform for the presentation of international art in dialogue with Singapore and Asia. Singapore 2006 is the umbrella event where Singapore will play host to the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group.


As part of the Biennale programming, the curatorial team has planned a series of dialogue sessions with the local arts community, from July 2005 leading up to and throughout the inception of the Biennale. These regular dialogue sessions, Encounters, provides a discursive platform for Singaporeans to voice issues and concerns pertinent to SB2006. 


Key Events

 Singapore Biennale Club Night  24th June 2006
 Media Preview  1st – 3rd September 2006
 Inauguration Ceremony  2nd September 2006, Morning
 Opening Party  2nd September 2006, Evening
 Exhibition Period  4th September – 12th November 2006
 Closing Event  11th November 2006


Related Events

 Opening of exhibition site, VivoCity  13th – 15th October 2006
 Deepavali Weekend Event  20th – 22nd October 2006


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.


About National Heritage Board, Singapore

The National Heritage Board champions the promotion of a vibrant cultural and heritage sector in Singapore.  It aims to make heritage enriching, relevant and accessible to all through forging collaborative partnerships and staging innovative programmes to engage different audiences. NHB is a statutory board formed on 1 August 1993 under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts.