Singapore’s second helpings

px_Fumio.gifThe organizing committee for the Singapore Biennale has just pulled another rabbit out of the hat. Not only have they managed to team up with the Biennales of Gwangju, Shanghai, Sydney and Yokohama to form the next Grand Tour, in 2008 (another soon-to-be recurring art world trend?), but Fumio Nanjo will be appointed for a second term as the Artistic Director of the Singapore Biennale. This is of course, an old trick, as we’ve already experienced two consecutive Venice Biennales by Harald Szeemann and two consecutive Busan Biennales by Manu Park.

While the initial splat of responses to this decision was far from being positive (heh!), I have been thinking about the possibility of Nanjo actually being able to construct a relevant exhibition for the general public in Singapore and for the international art bubble at large, now that he’s been on the island’s case for a couple of years now.

After all, time, experience and access can do wonders when it comes to exhibition-building. Perhaps the Singapore Biennale has thrown up an interesting proposition: What if biennales were to follow in the footsteps of a system, say, an art fair or a theatre festival, where an artistic director would actually retain the post indefinitely, have more time to do research on the context and develop the exhibition for a few terms?

Author: Heman Chong

Heman Chong is an artist and a curator based in Berlin and Singapore. The artist represented Singapore in the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy in 2003. He is currently represented by Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou, China.

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