SINGAPORE - The Singapore Pavilion was officially opened on May 6, 3pm by Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, Singapore, in a newly-restored space in the Sale d'Armi building at the Arsenale, Venice, Italy.
This is the first time that the Singapore Pavilion is situated in the historic Arsenale on a long term lease for 20 years.
Mr Sam Tan says, "Singapore has a rich pool of artistic talent and we want to be able to always identify and create opportunities for them to showcase their works. The return to the Venice Biennale, our seventh outing so far, reflects this commitment to our Singapore artists, who will have the opportunity to tap into global networks and reach out to new international audiences. The long-term lease of the Singapore Pavilion at the Biennale further underscores our commitment to our artists, who will fly the Singapore flag on the global stage."
Mr. Paul Tan, Deputy Chief Executive, National Arts Council, says: "Singapore's representation in Venice is the ideal platform for Singapore's artistic practice to be connected to the rest of the world. As modern Singapore turns 50 this year, Charles' work is also timely; it is a thoughtful examination of the physical establishment of our city-state, offering fresh perspectives and meanings. We hope, with a successful showing at the Venice Biennale, Singapore will excite a global audience about art created in Singapore and our region, as well as the many new developments here, such as our National Gallery opening in November."
Sea State is a project initiated in 2005 by artist and former Olympic sailor Charles Lim that examines Singapore's relationship with the sea through filmic, photographic and archival material.
The project's structure is inspired by the World Meteorological Organisation's code for measuring sea conditions, which numbers the varying states ranging from calm, to moderate, to the phenomenal. It seeks to question and re-define Singapore's understanding of its land and sea borders, and the country's drive to reclaim control over its environment.
Artist Charles Lim says: "When we think of a nation as a physical thing we imagine a land mass. Yet the true border of any country touching the sea is not the edge of the land, but out in the water. The actual border and the imagined border are quite different, especially for an island like Singapore. Sea State makes that border visible. It brings to the fore what is ordinarily kept in the background, the real depths of the sea and our uneasy maritime unconscious."
The pavilion's curator, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, notes: "Charles Lim's practice stems from an intimate engagement with the natural world, mediated and informed by field research and experimentation, performance, drawing, photography and video. His works make visible a dynamic coastal ecology, showing how the infrastructures of global capitalism do not replace the maritime environment, but inhabit and transform it. In an era of rapid global exchange, the complex, transnational spaces of the sea play host to a dynamic interplay between nature and culture, framing many of the key anxieties of our time. Embracing a range of media and disciplines, the Singapore Pavilion takes us to places that were until recently only a thing of oneiric theory."
Sea State will return to Singapore for a presentation at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore) in 2016, providing Singaporeans the opportunity to view the work that represented the nation at the Venice Biennale 2015.
An accompanying public conversation, conceived as an extension to Sea State and organised by NTU CCA Singapore, will be held in Venice on May 9, 2015. Titled The Geopolitical and the Biophysical: A structured conversation on Art and Southeast Asia in context, the open debate will also continue at NTU CCA Singapore in 2016 and expand upon the conversation in Venice.