There is a celebration of Singapore’s art scene. This takes place in the form of the Nokia Singapore Art (NSA) 2001. A visual arts festival that brings together an array of art forms to showcase the latest developments in Singapore’s art scene.

Sponsored by Nokia, an avid supporter of the local arts scene, the festival’s theme of Histories, Identities, Technologies, Spaces; sees calligraphy, painting, sculpture, photography, installation art, video art and cyber art on display. Comprising of main exhibitions, affiliated exhibitions and in-conjunction exhibitions, the Nokia Singapore Art 2001 sees over fifty events held at over twenty different locations which includes 141 works by 133 artists.

Nathalie Junod Ponsard, To Share The Landscape, 2001-2002, Installation at Singapore Art Museum, along the length of the first floor of the museum © Nathalie Junod Ponsard ADAGP

The locations for the exhibits are just as diverse as the art forms, ranging from hotels, schools, museums, shopping centres, galleries, government buildings and even in the streets. The festival is organized in such a manner that these venues are grouped together into zones where they are within walking distance to each other. As such, visitors can take a full day to explore various exhibits. Walking from point to point, digesting and experiencing the exhibits in their mind as they move onto the next venue.

The main exhibit itself is spread out over four locations. One of them is the Singapore Art Museum. There, visitors are exposed to a transformation of the galleries. With the inclusion of cyber art in the festival, the normally well-lit galleries are dimmed and partitioned to create an atmosphere suited to view the digital artwork. Surrounded by monitors, projectors, web-sites, and video installations, one is constantly encouraged to partake in the interactive artwork, often through the use of the mouse or in one instance, the pointing of body parts on a nude picture to surf the web. Traditional art forms are not left out. Paintings, Chinese calligraphy and sculptures are also on display at the festival. Creating a diverse menu for visitors.

Chua Chye Teck, Dear let me do the cleaning, 2001 © Chua Chye Teck

Another venue for the main exhibition is Sculpture Square which houses the works (mostly installations) of fourteen artists based on the theme of identity through the human form. Works include hanging sugar canes, a life size bamboo framed Chinese coffin. A door in the wall that beckons the curious to open, leading to a deserted room filled with the marks of the past. The dialogue of an artist about rice with an arrangement of bowls painted with simple yet perplexing questions on a bed of soil scattered with rice. All of whom interpretation the theme of identity juxtaposed against our surroundings, life, memory and questioning.

Deriving Spaces, an affiliate exhibition of the Nokia Singapore Art 2001 sees the dotting of artworks across the vicinity of Chinatown. A blown up photograph of the street on the side of a shop-house, a wooden cart under a tree, maps in front of a bank, installations at street junctions are just some of the numerous artworks on display, all in an attempt to explore the history of Chinatown. There is a free guided tour to explore the artworks, however it is my recommendation to explore the artworks on your own, to hunt for these “inconspicuous artworks”. Many have been oblivious to these art works, or so it seems, as passersby only gathered to take a glance when someone bends down to take a closer look. One experiences the spaces in Chinatown as they move about in search of artworks. The after effects? The pleasure of having a deeper experience of Chinatown. Facing the artworks and having gone through the area, viewers create their own personal outlook and understanding towards Chinatown. The sweet reward for all that walking and searching.

Throughout the festival, talks and forums are lined up on each weekend. Entitled the weekend series, this move attempts to make art even more accessible to the public. Not just reaching out to them via location, but also through explanation, exposure and contemplation.

The celebrations just go on and on. Spanning across three months, the Nokia Singapore Art brings a bang to the end of 2001, while also creating a burst of activities to the start of 2002.

Nokia Singapore Art 2001
Date: December 9th, 2001 – February 3rd, 2002
Place: Singapore Art Museum
Address: 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555
Tel: +65 6697 9730

Text: Fann ZJ

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