Magazine article Artforum International

Eastern Front: Weng-Choy Lee on the Singapore, Shanghai, and Gwangju Biennials

Magazine article Artforum International

Eastern Front: Weng-Choy Lee on the Singapore, Shanghai, and Gwangju Biennials

Article excerpt

THE TITLES OF this year's Singapore, Shanghai, and Gwangju biennials--"Belief," "Hyper Design," and "Fever Variations," respectively--will to some no doubt seem typically Asian, their cumulative vocabulary evoking a millennial blend of futurism and age-old spiritualism. Regardless of whether the latter term will prove true to audiences' experience of the shows--will we actually see ecstatic leaps of faith, for example, as opposed to the cool conceptualisms or political postures of many Western megashows?--the former quality seems assured by the jet-setting schedule of events alone. Art enthusiasts keen to immerse themselves in the Asian points of view (and who have the requisite stamina) can catch the openings of all three shows in a single week this month: Singapore's inaugural event begins on September 4; the sixth Shanghai Biennial opens the next day; and the Gwangju Biennale, also presenting its sixth installment, commences September 8.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Belief," spearheaded by Fumio Nanjo (deputy director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo), with the assistance of curators Roger McDonald, Sharmini Pereira, and Eugene Tan, will be installed in nineteen used and disused venues across Singapore--ranging from mosques, churches, and temples to the former City Hall and the now-defunct Tanglin military camp. Though all of the curators have been trained at art institutions in the West, a distinctive feature of the show is its focus on artists from the equatorial belt who usually aren't so well represented in biennials--providing, in the words of Nanjo, "an interesting mix of Asian perspectives." Among the ninety-six artists included are Santiago Cucullu, Amanda Heng, Ho Tzu-Nyen, Barbara Kruger, Lim Tzay-Chuen, Donna Ong, Chatchai Puipia, Rizman Putra, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Xu Bing.

True to its title, the Shanghai biennial will tackle the current preoccupation with design in Asia, where, from Singapore to Seoul, government planners are obsessed with developing "creative industries." Indeed, as organized by Zhang Qing, deputy director of the Shanghai Art Museum (along with a team that includes Huang Du, Shu-Min Lin, Wonil Rhee, Gianfranco Maraniello, Jonathan Watkins, and Xiao Xiaolan), this show might be seen as an inadvertent nod to the economic imperatives lurking behind the staging of events like these. The exhibition's three sections--"Design and Imagination," "Practice of Everyday Life," and "Future and History"--frame a series of broad oppositions (art and functionalism, art and everyday life, past and future) that the show's curators hope to transcend. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.