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The National Arts Council Announces the Artistic Team Set to Represent Singapore at the 58th Venice Biennale


The National Arts Council Announces the Artistic Team Set to Represent Singapore at the 58th Venice Biennale
Artist Song-Ming Ang and curator Michelle Ho. Image courtesy of the National Arts Council

On July 18th 2018, the National Arts Council (NAC) announced Song-Ming Ang and curator Michelle Ho as the artistic team representing Singapore at the 58th Venice Biennale from May 11th to November 24th 2019. This will be Singapore’s 9th participation in the Biennale, with Ho and Ang presenting an exhibition entitled Music For Everyone: Variations on a Theme for the Singapore Pavilion. Located in the Sale d’Armi building in the Arsenale in Venice, Ang aims to extend his practice of using music as a platform to explore means of public involvement and the ways in which viewers relate to music, both individually and as a society.

Song-Ming Ang and Michelle Ho. Image courtesy of the author. 

Its title, Music For Everyone: Variations on a Theme, is derived from a series of concerts organized by Singapore’s Ministry of Culture in the 70s and 80s in an effort to encourage public appreciation of the arts. Using an array of media, Ang draws from experimental music practices together with an air of amateurism so as to establish a counterpoint to the state-driven vision of 'Music for Everyone'. A major component of his work is also a new one entitled Recorder Rewrite, where the musical recorder is used as a commentary on Singapore’s public music education since the 1970s. A more audience-inclusive work that highlights his previous developments is You and I, where the artist requested handwritten letters from friends, acquaintences and strangers, and responded with personalized CD mix-tapes. This is a project that Ang hopes to reinstate.

You and I (2009/2012). Image courtesy of the artist. 

Ang seeks to draw on dialogues that potentially exist between experimental music and conceptual art. A recurrent theme of his practice includes the “meaningful involvement of members of the public” in the creation of his works. One of which included Guilty Pleasures held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia. In this public-inclusive performative piece, Ang hosted a listening party where audience members were encouraged to bring forward, speak about, and put on a piece of music they love but are embarrassed to reveal.

Guilty Pleasures at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Guilty Pleasures at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Ang’s practice is multidisciplinary and often contextually linked to the production, dissemination and consumption of music. He has previously exhibited internationally, at biennials, festivals and institutions. These include Camden Arts Centre (London), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), the 14th Istanbul Biennial (Turkey), and Festival of Live Art (Melbourne). Ang has also exhibited locally with NTU ADM Gallery, NUS Museum, Institute of Contemporary Arts, the 3rd Singapore Biennale, Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore Fringe Festival, the Substation, and the Esplanade.

Parts and Labour (2012). Image courtesy of the artist. 

On why Music For Everyone: Variations on a Theme was chosen to represent Singapore on the global stage that is Venice Biennale, Ms Rosa Daniel, CEO of NAC and Co-Chair of the Singapore Pavilion Commissioning Panel said that it “stood out as a conceptual and reflective work that uses music as a subject to spotlight arts appreciation in Singapore. The appeal of his work is that it is both cutting-edge yet nostalgic, and international yet personal all at the same time, offering audiences unusual insights into Singaporean life on a variety of levels, through the universal concepts of music and sound.”

Curator Michelle Ho elaborated, stating how “previous presentations at the Singapore Pavilion have dealt with the themes of identity, historical memory, and the complexities of land and coastal geographies.” She further cites how she is “glad that public participation as a critical force in art-making will be highlighted in the upcoming presentation, through Song-Ming’s practice that investigates our encounters with music, and music-making.”

The 58th Venice Biennale will be on in Venice, Italy, from the 11 May to 24 November 2019.
For more information, click here.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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