Art in surprising places

Art in surprising places

Running under the name Natasha, the latest edition of Singapore Biennale presents works by over 50 artists across 13 locations

Art in surprising places
Singapore Biennale 2022 is called Natasha. Singapore Art Museum

Instead of having a theme like its previous editions, the 7th edition of the Singapore Biennale (SB 2022) is named Natasha. June Yap, co-artistic director, explained that the team came up with the idea of Natasha to personalise the biennale.

"We are interested in the intimacy of artistic life. Art is an experience and practice by artists. Having a name helps us focus on the personal aspect of artists. However, we want to go beyond the individual aspect because that is just one category and names can be used for other things such as mountains, rivers and animals. We liked the sound of Natasha. We have friends and an artist whose name is Natasha, so it seemed like a name that can be found in many places, not just Southeast Asia," explained Yap.

"When visitors come, we want them to reflect on themselves. Their responses and their interpretations are also part of the Biennale. Natasha is not a human; it's more than that. It is a very human way of looking at the world," Yap added.

Over 100 artworks by more than 50 artists and collaborators are displayed at 13 locations such as Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Sentosa Cove Village, Southern Islands, Yan Kit Playfield, Singapore Flyer and International Plaza.

At SAM, the main venue, visitors should not miss two sculptures with long names -- The Hybrid Intermediates – Flourishing Electrophorus Duo (The Sonic Intermediate – Hairy Carbonous Dweller And The Randing Intermediate – Furless Uncolored Dweller) -- created by Haegue Yang, a Korean artist and professor of fine arts at The Staedelschule in Frankfurt. The sculptures have handles and wheels attached to allow mobility. When in motion, the bells on the sculptures produce a metallic sound reminiscent of bells used in rituals of various cultures. These sculptures were awarded the Benesse Prize at SB 2022. The jury praised Yang that her practice presents cross-cultural knowledge, and a moving regard for materiality and tradition through a playful visual language.

Hut Tep Soda Chan by Kanitha Tith. Singapore Art Museum

Not far from the sculptures by Yang, Kanitha Tith, a cross-disciplinary Cambodia artist exhibits an installation Hut Tep Soda Chan (Hut Of An Angel) as well as a series of wire sculptures, paintings and drawings titled Someone Is Moving. Hut Tep Soda Chan resembles Tith's house when she was a child. Inside the house, there are mixed media inspired by a Cambodian folktale from a 1968 film which tells a love story between a mortal man and an angel. The film conveys that people in poverty can be rich in happiness and love. Tith's intriguing wire sculptures which are a part of Someone Is Moving are hand-woven thin steel wires inspired on the spot by the artist.

On the 5th floor of SAM, Ong Kian Peng, a Singaporean artist, presents his audio-visual installation The Viscous Sea on six screens. Ong Kian Peng is interested in the intersections between art ecology and technology as well as the relationship between man, nature and the Anthropocene epoch. While Ong Kian Peng was an artist-in-residence in Jordan from May to July 2022, he came across an article which raised the question, "Was the Dead Sea actually dying?". Viscous Sea is based on his research on and around the Dead Sea to find out if it will eventually disappear. The installation features materials and audio recordings gathered from his trekking trips to various rivers and valleys that are connected to the Dead Sea.

On the same floor, Firas Shehadeh, a Palestinian artist and researcher based in Vienna, presents Signal Feels Collision, a series of eight digital prints on aluminium. Shehadeh grew up in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, but because he was not allowed to go outside his home, he mostly spent his time playing video games and surfing the internet, which became his artistic source. Shehadeh created Signal Feels Collision based on the concept of radical abstraction and algorithmic censorship. His inspiration came from an incident during the war on Gaza when Palestinians tried to find a way to bypass algorithmic censorship by coding and abstracting their messages to communicate with one another.

Someone Is Moving by Kanitha Tith. Singapore Art Museum

Some artworks were inspired by artists' personal interests or issues which others can relate to. Yoon Mi-ae and Kym Jin-hong from Brightworkroom, a group of Korean artists, created artworks to heal their souls. Yoon created Communion Wafers by composing tiny triangular cut-outs from everyday materials such as newspapers, snack packaging and milk cartons. Since Yoon, 67, lives in a senior mental healthcare centre, her mosaic artworks represent figures of her father, brother and home in which she once lived. Kym, 31, who suffers from severe schizophrenia, draws pictures with pencil and watercolour to express her complex inner self.

From the museum, Natasha also takes visitors to Southern Islands where several artworks are showcased. Created by Donghwan Kam, Fermentation House is a miniature home sculpture filled with fermented soybean in pottery jars. The work was developed based on Kam's interest in exploring how domestic acts such as cooking, distilling and fermenting are inherently related to time.

Created by Zarina Muhammad, a Singaporean artist, Moving Earth, Crossing Water, Eating Soil ia an interactive installation inspired by the historical identity of Pulau Sekijang Bendera (currently known as St John's Island). Visitors can engage with the installation in several ways such as selecting a talisman card and following its instructions for good luck, or rotating handles to produce musical sounds.

Signal Feels Collision by Firas Shehadeh.

In addition to conventional art pieces, Natasha has two projects -- The Library Of Unread Books and The Pavilion Of Regret -- non-art enthusiasts may be interested in. The Library Of Unread Books is a brainchild of the artist Heman Chong, and producer and librarian Renée Staal, who are book lovers. Both tried to create a community space for bookworms. People can donate unwanted books to the project. Visitors can enjoy reading over a thousand titles on a wide range of subjects on the 1st floor of International Plaza.

Located at Yan Kit Playfield, The Pavilion Of Regret was launched by Chinese artist Trevor Yeung, who is interested in botanic ecology and horticulture. Inspired by his guilt from childhood when Yeung had to release koi fish at a pond in his school, The Pavilion Of Regret is a space where people can leave their unwanted plants or adopt plants that other people leave in the pavilion. When Natasha ends, the unhealthy plants will go to a nursery while the rest remain up for adoption.

Singapore Biennale 2022 runs until March 2023 at 13 locations across the country. For information on admission fees and other details, visit and


Communion Wafers by Yoon Mi-ae. Singapore Art Museum

Kym Jin-hong's pictures in pencil and watercolour. Singapore Art Museum

Fermentation House by Donghwan Kam. Singapore Art Museum

Moving Earth, Crossing Water, Eating Soil by Zarina Muhammad. Singapore Art Museum

The Pavilion Of Regret by Trevor Yeung. Singapore Art Museum

The Viscous Sea by Ong Kian Peng. Singapore Art Museum

The Library Of Unread Books by Heman Chong and Renée Staal. Singapore Art Museum

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