Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is pleased to announce the appointment of Singaporean artist Robert Zhao Renhui and curator Haeju Kim as the artistic team for the Singapore Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (Biennale Arte 2024), which will run from 20 April to 24 November 2024. Recognising the museum’s expertise as a leading contemporary art institution in Southeast Asia, SAM has been commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC) to organise the Singapore Pavilion for this edition.
The selection process for the artist for the 11th Singapore Pavilion involved a Commissioning Panel composed of representatives from the arts community. The Panel assessed the course of the artist’s research, practice and experiences through their careers, and also conducted artist studio visits as part of the selection process. SAM will work closely with the appointed artistic team to offer holistic support as they develop the presentation, allowing for the artwork to evolve through a process of collaboration and exchange.
Eugene Tan, Co-Chair of the Commissioning Panel and Director of SAM, says, “The strength and trajectory of Robert Zhao’s artistic practice and research has convinced the Commissioning Panel of his ability to present a thought-provoking presentation that speaks to contemporary global issues. We are heartened that Haeju Kim, a Senior Curator at SAM, has been approached by Zhao to support his endeavour in Venice. Given Kim’s extensive experience and expertise across disciplines and large-scale platforms, as well as the shared research synergies between Zhao and Kim, this holds potential for exploring possibilities of mutual co-existence, multi-species flourishing and more connected ways of being. As SAM continues to present resonant works that push artistic boundaries, the artistic team’s pursuit of challenging exhibitionary norms puts them in good stead to best represent Singapore at the Biennale Arte 2024. These are considerations that informed our appointment of the artistic team, and we hope that the upcoming presentation will inspire deeper reflections within the arts community and beyond.”
This is Singapore’s 11th presentation at the Biennale Arte. We are excited for this opportunity to present art that reflects our times, sparks conversations, and positions us on this international platform. As NAC continues to propel generations of artists on the international stage, we are excited to be working with SAM to champion our artistic talents and provide them with a platform to present and engage with international audiences. NAC looks forward to further establishing Singapore as a key arts and culture node for artistic practices, as we bring forth inclusivity, vibrancy and opportunities in the arts.”
– Low Eng Teong, Co-Chair of the Commissioning Panel and Chief Executive Officer of the NAC
Robert Zhao Renhui is an interdisciplinary Singaporean artist who has exhibited globally in international biennales and institutions around the world and won accolades for his artistic practice. Zhao was featured in the 10th Busan Biennale (2020), 6th Singapore Biennale (2019), 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2018), 11th Taipei Biennale (2018), 17th Jakarta Biennale (2017), and 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016). Most recently, he was invited to participate in the 14th Gwangju Biennale (2023), and held a solo exhibition at the ShanghART Shanghai in March 2023.
In his practice, Zhao explores the complex relationships between nature and culture. Working in installation, photography, video and sculpture, Zhao takes an interdisciplinary approach to constructing layered narratives of the natural world, with an interest in uncovering the experiences of the multifarious beings and objects that constitute the living world and enrich our collective existence. Over the past eight years, he has rooted the pressing global topic of the Anthropocene to our Singaporean environment, through the exploration of secondary forests and their potential as key sites of regeneration and regrowth. Zhao has presented different expressions of his research on secondary forests, most recently The Forest Institute (2022), a large-scale architectural art installation at Gillman Barracks, Singapore; Untimely Meditations (2022), a body of work that suggests alternative ways to look at history and nature through artefacts of the past and present; and an upcoming performance installation titled Albizia (2023), commissioned by the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. Providing a vision for life and regeneration for a more ecologically minded future, Zhao’s presentation for the Singapore Pavilion will feature an immersive, interdisciplinary installation that builds on the complex and rich multiplicity of his ecological research through art.
Haeju Kim is a Senior Curator at SAM who focuses on contemporary art practices in Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia. Previously the Deputy Director at Art Sonje Center, Kim holds deep experience in curating numerous contemporary art exhibitions and performance programmes across various disciplines. Her curatorial approach emphasises the consideration of the body, time and memory as key elements, while also engaging with topics including ecological perspectives, locality and its planetary connection, and questions of coexistence through her research.
She was most recently the Artistic Director for Busan Biennale 2022, which received much commendation for its intimate understanding and reflection of the city’s local histories. Other exhibitions curated by Kim include two solo exhibitions by Shitamichi Motoyuki (A ship went up that hill, 2022) and Manon de Boer (Down Time, 2022) at Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark, as well as Moving/Image, a three-chapter exhibition and performance programme that was presented at Seoul Art Space Mullae (2016), ARKO Art Center (2017) and Seoul Museum of Art (2020).
The Biennale Arte 2024, named “Foreigners Everywhere”, is curated by Adriano Pedrosa. Since 2015, the Singapore Pavilion has been located within the Arsenale and has featured artists such as Shubigi Rao (2022), Song-Ming Ang (2019), Zai Kuning (2017) and Charles Lim (2015). In 2009, Ming Wong’s representation of Singapore received a Special Mention at the 53rd Biennale Arte.
Further details on the curatorial concept behind the Singapore Pavilion will be revealed in due course. Follow the latest updates via Facebook and Instagram (@singaporeartmuseum), or visit bit.ly/SingaporePavilion-VB2024.
Images: Robert Zhao