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Doing more to develop our own Singaporean contemporary artists

Remarks by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community And Youth, at the "Medium at Large" exhibition preview

Ms Jane Ittogi, Chair, Singapore Art Museum

Ms Chong Siak Ching, CEO of SAM

Dr Susie Lingham, Director of SAM

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. It is my pleasure to be here this evening at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), for the opening of Medium at Large.
  2. First Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art exhibition after the corporatisation of SAM
    a) Thank all who were involved in the corporatisation journey

    b) Welcome Siak Ching on board as CEO of the museum; also Susie who was appointed Director last year

    c) Look forward to this exhibition by the new team
  3. SAM and the National Gallery, which opens next year, are the two key pillars of our visual arts sector

    a) We want both museums to showcase local as well as Southeast and Asian art; featuring artistic talents at home, and throughout the region.

    b) The National Gallery will focus on modern and historical art, and will showcase the works of established artists in Singapore and the region.

    c) SAM will be the champion for contemporary art, and will help to develop and nurture our emerging artists.
  4. I would like to assure all of you at SAM that the Ministry is committed to supporting SAM in its mission.
  5. We want SAM to be the national platform for local contemporary art, as well as the leading contemporary art museum in the region. That means that SAM must continue to lead the curve in contemporary art, and do so in a way that resonates with Singaporeans.
  6. To achieve this goal, we will continue to invest in SAM – its infrastructure, its collections and its programmes. I am glad that SAM already conducts many education and outreach programmes, such as workshops, school visits, and even special programmes for pre-school children. And I would encourage SAM to keep finding new ways to engage all segments of our diverse society, and to meet the twin outcomes of artistic excellence and broad-based accessibility.
  7. Besides investing in SAM, we will also do more to develop our own Singaporean contemporary artists. Key to this is the support we provide in enabling them to showcase their works to audience outside Singapore.
  8. Take our participation at the Venice Biennale as one example. We are working toward a long-term lease of a pavilion space at the Venice Biennale. This would give greater stability to our presence at the Biennale, and more importantly, a longer lead time to plan and commission artworks to be presented.
  9. We have set up a commissioning panel for the upcoming edition of the Biennale, taking place next year. The panel is in the hands of its co-Chairs, Ms Kathy Lai and Mr Eugene Tan – CEO of the National Arts Council, and Director of the National Gallery. They have a talented committee to support them, comprising Dr Susie Lingham and others.
  10. The panel has selected the artistic team, out of an array of strong proposals, to represent Singapore at next year’s Biennale. I am glad to share that they have appointed Mr Charles Lim as the artist, and Mr Shabbir Hussain Mustafa as the curator. My congratulations to the team; I am sure it will be an exciting artistic partnership that will do Singapore proud.
  11. The Singapore artworks that are presented at the Biennale will not stop in Venice. We will bring them back to Singapore for all Singaporeans to enjoy. In fact, tonight, SAM is showing “Cloud of Unknowing” for the first time: a multimedia installation by Singapore artist Ho Tzu Nyen that made its debut at the Biennale in 2011. SAM acquired this extraordinary piece of art in 2012, and we are now proud to have it as part of our National Collection.
  12. The Venice Biennale is just one of the many platforms that we are pro-actively building up. Last month in Parliament, I announced that the Ministry will provide $20 million over the next five years toward international exchanges. Our cultural agencies are constantly pursuing new ways to shine the spotlight on Singapore art abroad. So there are many more exciting opportunities for our artists on the horizon.
  13. Overall, we are making good progress in our development as a leading arts centre in Asia. The number of visual arts organisations in Singapore has doubled over the past decade. We are also seeing many more visual arts activities and exhibitions in our cultural calendar.

    a) Singapore Biennale saw a record high of 560,000 visitors for the event, and received positive reviews from visitors both locally and abroad.

    b) Earlier this year, we had a very successful Singapore Art Week, which included ongoing flagship events like the Art Stage, as well as new events like the Prudential Eye Award.
  14. Of course, much of what we want to do can only be achieved through partnerships. So I am glad to see many of SAM’s partners and supporters here today – artists, collectors, sponsors and others. This demonstrates a healthy balance of support between the private, public and people sectors. This is very much in line with what we have envisioned in taking Singapore’s arts and culture scene to its next phase of growth – an approach of a strong and sustainable partnership between the state, companies, community, and individuals.
  15. Finally, let me congratulate the team at SAM for putting together this splendid show. I am pleased to declare the exhibition open, and wish all of you a pleasant evening.
Last updated on 02 April 2019