A Letter from the Future

Singapore Biennale 2019: Every Step in the Right Direction explores the possibility of art, the artist and the audience considering the troubles that the world is going through. Every effort put into the making, sharing, and experience of art might encourage the actions to make the change for better. The exhibition holds the beliefs in the potential of art to turn the table around. Tomorrow is An Island, as inland, a sin land is related to the larger theme of the Singapore Biennale by questioning the future that we are moving towards “ What kind of future(s) can we imagine for our current conditions of precarious migrations, securitized fears and asphyxiated commons? … How can the disruption of nature/culture binaries foster more-than-human entanglements?” The artists from Switzerland and Singapore responded to the questions with their artworks. Similar to the other Singapore Biennale exhibition, we could experience the Tomorrow that artists had imagined in the ADM gallery space Now.

Further, Tomorrow is An Island is a much cohesive exhibition where all the exhibits are interconnected in the space yet having their own charms. The space at the ADM gallery is smaller as compared to the National Gallery and Gillman Barracks. I think the experience at the ADM gallery is more immersive as all the walls are painted green., and the letter by Damien Christinger runs through the walls. It invites the audience to follow through the narrative and immerse themselves in the gallery space. One of the artwork Forest Tales and Emerald Fictions caught my attention at one end of the gallery. It is curated by artist Monica Ursina Jager (Switzerland and UK) whose work explores the relationship between the natural environment and the manmade infrastructures. Forest Tales and Emerald Fictions is a looping 3 channel video installation. The videos walk the audience through the dense skyscrapers, the forest, the mix of both and repeat. The narration is a Singaporean woman talking about her memories of places when she was young, and it plays through the headphone that cancels all the noise around. Finally, the installation questions the forest’s sustainable role in the future of urban planning by layering the visuals to create the co-existing of nature and manmade.

All in all, Tomorrow is An Island and the larger theme of Singapore Biennale both questions the well being of the future world. The exhibitions at National Gallery and Gillman Barracks offer a larger quantity of various artworks while ADM Gallery presented a more cohesive show. I could almost feel the conversations between the artists when I was in that space. 

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