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Hopes for Singapore's re-entry into Venice Biennale

Singapore will be back at the prestigious Venice Biennale next year after a two-year hiatus. The authorities hope the re-entry will raise the profile of Singapore artists and help them foster collaborations with the international arts community.

SINGAPORE: Singapore will be back at the prestigious Venice Biennale next year after a two-year hiatus.

The authorities hope the re-entry will raise the profile of Singapore artists and help them foster collaborations with the international arts community.

Contemporary Singapore artist Charles Lim's installations will be shown to an international audience at the Biennale.

He is working with curator Shabbir Hussain Mustafa to represent Singapore in a project titled Sea State.

The works of Mr Lim -- from the vast ocean to drainage systems -- are all about the precious commodity known as water.

His interest was sparked by an unlikely cause -- an internet service disruption.

Mr Lim later learnt that the disruption was due to damaged undersea cables. It led him to think about the sea in a different way.

He said: "The sea is similar to the way we look at the Internet. The Net has this layer on top, we can't see what's underneath -- it's the code and all that.

“But it doesn't mean that because you can't see it, it's not there. It's there. In a sense, the sea is like that too.

“When we look at the sea, it's this body of water, we don't know what's underneath. Maybe there are cables, maybe there's a shipwreck, maybe there are fish."

Mr Mustafa said: "Not just us in Singapore but people around the world, (when they) look at the sea, they have certain ideas about the sea.

"And in many ways, Charles' project and the Singapore Pavilion in Venice is also about finding ways to connect these ideas, showing people a different side of the sea they may have always thought that they knew, but maybe they had not looked at it from this perspective."

The National Arts Council, which funds and organises Singapore's participation at the Biennale, hopes the exhibition will lead to greater visibility for Singapore artists.

Kathy Lai, co-chair of the commissioning panel and CEO of National Arts Council, said: "It is a good stage for our artists to step up to, to present themselves. Judging from our past participation, it has panned out to be a great opportunity for our artists.

"This kind of platform will also raise awareness of other artists, of what our artists are able to contribute. Perhaps it will also seed some collaborative exchanges, at least some conversations between artists of different countries."

Mr Lim and Mr Mustafa are already in the thick of production work.

Mr Lim said: "Yesterday I was under the sea. I was filming something under the sea. The day before, we were shooting on top of the sea.

"So it's like looking at the sea from all different angles -- from underneath, from the top, from the side, from the surface.”

Singapore audiences will soon be able to catch Mr Lim’s works at an exhibition sometime in July at the National Museum of Singapore.  

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