An Endlessness of Beginnings, Singapore Biennale 2016

Contemplating cyclical time brings insight into how myths influence human conditioning; when, and why, story tells more than history; and our lives amidst timespans of elemental substances that transcend human measure.

Inscription of the Island (2016) by Lim Soo Ngee
In Lim’s imagination, this was once part of a colossal statue that guided the ships of an ancient, mythical civilisation.

Yin-Yang Calendar (2016) by Xiao Lu
In this 2016 work, Xiao explores the contrast between the Western solar calendar and the Chinese lunar one. Two long black and white stripes are juxtaposed to stand for the two calendar systems.

The Skeleton of Makara (The Myth of a Myth (2016) by Tan Zi Hao
One of the most prevalent mythological icons in Southeast Asia is the makara, which originated in Hinduism. Depicted as a hybrid of different animals, typically half-mammal and half-fish, it has penetrated cultural, religious and philosophical discourses.
One Has to Wander through All the Outer Worlds … (2016) by Qiu Zhi Jie
In his creation of maps, Qiu adopts a methodology that incorporates daily experience as well as a philosophical approach to thinking with graphics, and organising relationships and systems of knowledge. This map series presents Qiu’s investigation into cartographic history.

Qiu’s installation features a handblown glass bestiary of fantastical monsters, imagined as traversing between the mountains and the seas, conjuring a world of mystery that may once have been out there, but has now disappeared.

Karagatan (The Breadth of Oceans) (2016) by Gregory Halili
‘Karagatan’ portrays the eyes of residents in coastal villages across the Philippines, ranging from fishermen to pearl divers, a master boat-builder, shell traders and others.

The result of the artist’s research are delicate paintings that capture the tiny, distinctive characteristics of each subject’s eye: lines, curves and contours, which transform into unusual and unexpected portraits.

Invisible Force (2015) by Ni Youyu
‘Invisible Force’ reproduces part of the sky as photographed by NASA, using almost thirty thousand industrial magnets to represent the invisible gravitational forces between celestial bodies.

Atlas (2016) by Ni Youyu
‘Atlas’ makes use of pinball machines, collected by the artist and processed through hand-painting and refitting. The image of the Greek god Atlas bearing the night sky echoes the theme of the Singapore Biennale.

Dust (Singapore Galaxy) (2016) by Ni Youyu
‘Dust (Singapore Galaxy)’ is based on a photograph of the night sky around Singapore. The seemingly random scattering of chalk dust is in fact a precise placement and measuring out of dust in relation to stellar distributions. The Chinese character for “dust” refers both to the socially under-privileged, and the ordinary and the mundane, but here it is transformed into the limitless universe.

Aftermath (2016) by Pannaphan Yodmanee
In a titanic mural, Pannaphan presents a mapping of the Buddhist cosmos that resembles a landscape painting. Using materials raw and natural, as well as the new and mass-produced, her amalgamation of contemporary and traditional Thai art creates a unified cartography of the heavens and the earth that chronicles Southeast Asian history.

Pannaphan’s ongoing investigation of the intersecting points between Buddhist cosmology and modern science has led her to consider the concepts of change, loss, devastation and inevitable armageddon.

History (2013 – 2015) by Phasao Lao
Lao’s History series is a rudimentary chronicle of his Hmong clan. Each panel includes a black border of motifs that symbolise ‘spirits’, and an outline of different ancestors or leaders in red, the colour of strength and courage.

Spirit of Sky and Earth 3 & 4 and Tree Spirit (2012 – 2016) by Tcheu Siong
Particular to Siong’s artistic repertoire are the lanky creatures – featured prominently on each panel – that represent the ‘shadows’, ‘spirits’ or ‘souls’ of her dreams, which her husband Lao, the village shaman, interprets.

Jaonua: The Nothingness (King of Meat: The Noth… (2016) by Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook
In this installation, Araya has woven various stories together into a cohesive experience. Almost akin to a surrealistic dream, she invites audiences to ponder with her the karmic consequences of being entrapped within the Sisyphean cycle of existence.

Endless Hours at Sea (2014 – 2016) by Martha Atienza
This multimedia installation brings together material Atienza recorded from four oceanic journeys on cargo ships, and immerses the viewer in the constant state of flux that characterises life on board these vessels.

Singapore Biennale 2016: An Atlas of Mirrors
Exploring shared histories and current realities within and beyond the region, Singapore Biennale 2016 presents a constellation of artistic perspectives that provide unexpected ways of seeing the world and ourselves.

Titled An Atlas of Mirrors, the international contemporary art exhibition features site-specific and never seen before contemporary artworks by more than 60 artists across Southeast Asia, and East and South Asia.

Singapore Biennale 2016 is organised by the Singapore Art Museum, commissioned by National Arts Council and and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth of Singapore.

Singapore Art Museum
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) focuses on international contemporary art practices, specialising in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Housed in a restored 19th-century mission school, Singapore Art Museum opened its doors in 1996 as the first art museum in Singapore. Also known as SAM, the museum is now a contemporary art museum.

SAM has built one of the world’s most important public collections of Southeast Asian contemporary artworks, with a growing component in international contemporary art. SAM draws from its collection and collaborates with international contemporary art museums to co-curate and present contemporary art exhibitions. Contemporary art of the region is also given international exposure through SAM’s travelling exhibition programme and collection loans.

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