Art in the city

By Sharon M Tan
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Originally published at

From now till February 3, the city of Singapore is one big art gallery, thanks to the initiatives of the biennial Nokia Singapore Art 2001 (NSA01).

Sponsored by Nokia for the second time running, and jointly organised by the National Arts Council and the Singapore Art Museum, Nokia Singapore Art is meant to be a national showcase for the best Singapore's visual arts.

"This year's theme of Histories/Identities/Technologies/Spaces: Singapore Art Today is aimed at getting people excited about the notions of history," said Ahmad Mashadi, the senior curator of programmes at Singapore Art Museum, "and we are also introducing CyberArts for the first time in NSA."

The festival hopes to have a broad reach across the various art disciplines, but, in essence, it still serves to express, to question and to share. Collaboration is also a major player, where artists work together with the free exchange of ideas.

Said Koh Pek Hoon, deputy director of corporate communications with NAC: "Beyond the main exhibition venues, we try to make it an 'in conjunction' type thing. We try to incorporate or include what others are doing, like when they have already planned their own events that fits in with our theme, we'll ask them to join us."

The main exhibition will feature 141 works by 133 artists, and will be spread across four main venues - Singapore Art Museum, MITA ARTrium, Singapore Calligraphy Centre and Sculpture Square. Everything else will come under 'Affiliate and In-Conjunction Exhibitions'.

A section of the Singapore Art Museum is dedicated to CyberArts. "This is the first time we are doing this and we are interested to see how we can sustain such a feature," said senior curator Ahmad Mashadi. The works for the CyberArts section were selected based on two criteria - how it explores virtual space and virtual action.

One upper gallery at SAM has been converted into a LAN gaming station loaded with the popular game Counterstrike, with one difference. This version of the game incorporates urban Singapore landscapes such as HDB estates and void decks.

The Affiliate Exhibitions can be found in various art institutions as well as outdoor spaces. You can find Deriving Spaces in a section of Chinatown, specifically around the vicinity of Plastique Kinetic Worms on South Bridge Road. Curated by Vincent Leow and Lim Kok Boon, it's an exhibition of art installations and photographs. The other affiliate art spaces are at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, City Hall Chambers, Alliance Francaise and Ying Fo Fui Kuan on Telok Ayer Street.

The In-Conjunction Exhibitions can be found at numerous commercial art galleries around the city, such as Earl Lu Gallery on Goodman Road, Artfolio at Raffles Hotel, Bhaskar's Art Gallery on Campbell Lane, as well as at the gallery spaces of Hotel Gallery Evason on Robertson Quay.

Each weekend, starting December 15, there will be a series of talks and forums at the Singapore Art Museum and Sculpture Square. Covering a variety of subjects, from Chinese calligraphy to contemporary art practices, from video presentation to Chinese seal carving, these are free and open to the public.

Nokia Singapore Art 2001 is on till February 3, 2002. The main exhibition is hosted in gallery spaces at the Singapore Art Museum, MITA ARTrium, Singapore Calligraphy Centre and Sculpture Square, as well as selected outdoor spaces within the city.