Singapore Biennale 2008: Wonder

11 September 2008 - 16 November 2008

Marina Bay, Singapore, SG

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 Kelly, Isak Berbic, Hans Op de Beeck, Anthony McCall, Isaac Montoya,Faisal Samra, Fujiko Nakaya, Ki-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.