At Singapore Art Week in January, viewers get to sweep the “floor” of a mock-flat with a broom made of colour pencils. Thus they create their own work of art while considering the value assigned to both art-making and domestic labour.
Home(work) at the National Design Centre, helmed by local artist collective Proxy, is one of several new artist-led initiatives supported by Singapore Art Week, an annual event which is better known for big-ticket events such as international art fair Art Stage Singapore.
Singapore Art Week is a joint initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC), the Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Economic Development Board. Next year’s edition, the seventh, features more than 100 events held from Jan 19 to 27.
This year’s edition, which had a similar number of events – held from Jan 17 to 28 – drew 590,000 viewers, according to Ms Linda de Mello, director, sector development (visual arts) at NAC. Next year aims for similar attendance figures.
One new headline event next year is boutique art fair S.E.A. Focus at Gillman Barracks, from Jan 24 to 27, which aims to promote modern and contemporary South-east Asian art to visitors. Art Stage Singapore will also be back at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre from Jan 25 to 27.
Other arts institutions and galleries also launch major events during Singapore Art Week. Gillman Barracks’ regular open house party Art After Dark will be held on Jan 25, while the National Gallery Singapore’s much-anticipated Light To Night Festival launches on Jan 18 and runs till Feb 24. A highlight of the Light To Night Festival is Art Skins On Monuments, comprising multimedia projections on major buildings in the Civic District.
Alongside such crowd-pleasers are roughly a dozen smaller exhibitions and installations by local artists and curators keen to benefit from the buzz around Singapore Art Week. The National Arts Council says it received an “overwhelming” number of responses to its open call for Singapore Art Week proposals held this June, but did not give figures.
Home(work) from Jan 19 to 27 at the National Design Centre is helmed by four artists in their 20s and 30s who visited prior editions of Singapore Art Week and are using it as a platform for their own work for the first time. Artist Ong Lijie, 25, says: “Art Week always feels like an adrenaline rush. We’re quite excited because this is the first time we’re doing our own event.”
Other artist-led initiatives include Orthodox, a multi-disciplinary exhibition in which 12 artists in their 20s present works inspired by issues of faith and belief, and Adaptations, a showcase of eight artworks that use technology, curated by artist Ong Kian Peng and his independent art space Supernormal. Adaptations is held at Gillman Barracks.
Ong, 37, says he is excited by what he sees as increasing support for local artists in Singapore Art Week. “We really need to focus on local artists. It’s so easy to bring in big names from overseas but we need to have that platform or framework to allow locals to try bigger projects or bigger works.”
This article was originally published in The Straits Times.