Singapore Pavilion at 56th Venice Biennale
9 May–22 November 2015
Curator: Shabbir Hussain Mustafa
Eugene Tan, Director of the National Gallery Singapore and Co-Chair of the Commissioning Panel, says: “The commissioning panel were convinced by the proposal of Charles and Mustafa, as well as their close artistic partnership. Their exhibition will serve as a culmination of Charles’s SEA STATE project, which has been widely exhibited to critical acclaim. Their proposal demonstrates how artists can speak to international audiences, such as that which congregates at the Venice Biennale, while also engaging with issues that are specific and locally determined.”
Initiated in 2005, the SEA STATE project examines the biophysical, political and psychic contours of Singapore through the visible and invisible lenses of the sea. Taking as its metaphor the World Meteorological Organization’s code for describing sea conditions—ranging from calm, to moderate, to the phenomenal—SEA STATE inverts perceptions of sea and land in the Southeast Asian city-state. As the curator, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa notes, “The Singapore Pavilion presents a wonderful opportunity to explore how Charles’s work intersects with ongoing debates in the global contemporary art world. Singapore and Venice will meet through the sea itself, and we look forward to the rich conversation that will be generated along the way.”
SEA STATE was the first breakaway series developed by Charles Lim after the dissolution of the seminal net-art collective tsunamii.net in 2004. For the past decade, Charles’s works and projects related to the sea, borders, maritime legacies and land reclamation in Singapore and Asia at large have had a tremendous influence on artists and other researchers seeking critical and alternative perspectives on how the island nation is seen, developed and reimagined.
Image: Curator Shabbir Hussain Mustafa (left), and artist Charles Lim (right), to represent Singapore for Venice Biennale 2015. Photo: Zephaniah Tan / Courtesy The National Arts Council, Singapore