Singapore’s First Biennale Attracts 883,300


4 September – 12 November 2006



Singapore’s inaugural international biennale of contemporary art drew to a close on Sunday, having attracted a total of 883,300 visitors over 10 weeks. This includes visitors to all 19 exhibition venues, as well as the VivoCity Public Art Project and Telah Terbit (Out Now), both special programmes of the Biennale.


Mr Lee Suan Hiang, CEO, National Arts Council and Chairman of the Singapore Biennale 2006 (SB2006) Steering Committee, said: "We were organising the Biennale for the first time and when we started many people wondered how we were going to sustain interest over two months. We are encouraged by the strong support and we have been able to interest and engage so many people from all walks of life, not just art aficionados but also the man-in-the-street. The Biennale has also generated much local and foreign media interest with more than 400 articles.


“Over the course of the Biennale, we were encouraged by the many compliments we received from local and foreign visitors. Many visitors told us that the Biennale has made them see Singapore in a new light. We have received many stories of how Singaporeans were touched by the Biennale and how it has made a difference to people’s lives. Many said that the Biennale had given them a sense of pride in Singapore.  On the international front, the Biennale attracted strong participation of international artists, artistic directors, curators, critics, academics and biennale organisers. This has created opportunities for exchange and dialogue between Singapore and the global art community, and helped raise the profile of Singapore art. Indeed the inaugural Biennale is a milestone in the development of visual arts in Singapore. It has positioned Singapore strongly as a vibrant global city for the arts and put Singapore on the world map.”


Key to the vision of SB2006 to bring contemporary art into the lives of ordinary Singaporeans, the choice of public spaces as exhibition venues has drawn plaudits from both critics and visitors for integrating art into the community while at the same time highlighting Singapore’s multiculturalism.


To help educate and reach out to the majority of Singaporeans who do not typically visit art exhibitions, a series of programmes were developed. Titled Encounters, the selection of 34 programmes, which ranged from public forums and lectures to performances and symposiums, was available to both art academics and the general public. In addition, a TV programme, What’s Art was commissioned for broadcast on Channel U for eight weeks to raise awareness of contemporary art and the Biennale.


Educational tours put together for schools drew about 8,000 students from 70 schools, including Raffles Junior College, Dunman High School, Australian International School and Zhenghua Primary School.


Besides promoting contemporary art to local audiences, SB2006 has also become a platform for artists to gain international profile through networking with and exposure to the community of international curators, critics and journalists. Through such meetings, some of the local artists have already received invitations to put up existing or new works for exhibitions around the world.


Multi-media artist Ho Tzu Nyen’s work at the Singapore Biennale, The Bohemian Rhapsody Project, will be screened at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts in San Francisco from November 17 until March 4, 2007. Following that, the work travels to Los Angeles and Mexico. He has also received an invitation to create a new work for an exhibition titled Asian Attitude, which will tour several countries, including Poland, Germany, China and Australia from February 2007.


Jason Wee’s SB2006 work, 1987, has already been exhibited in New York's Peer Gallery from October 4 to 6.  The photographer will also be taking part in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swingspace residency next year, while Brian Gothong Tan has been approached to put up a show in Boston next March. Festivals like the Moscow Biennale have also indicated interest in featuring local artists like Donna Ong in their upcoming instalments.


The Biennale also saw the sale of artworks by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Takashi Kuribayashi and Hossein Golba to corporate and private art collectors.


Mr Fumio Nanjo, Artistic Director of SB2006, said: “The strong response and interest shown by the public is very heartening, and it shows that we have achieved what we set out to do – create an international contemporary art show of high quality not just for the art community, but for the people of Singapore. The stellar showing by the artists lays a firm foundation for future Singapore Biennales and it bodes well for the development of visual arts in this island-state.”


The National Arts Council wishes to thank all artists, sponsors, partners and the media for their strong support in the inaugural Singapore Biennale.


Please find the following annex enclosed for the latest results on Singapore Biennale 2006.