Singapore Art Week to Return with Hybrid Format for the First Time Ever

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Singapore Art Week (SAW) is scheduled to return islandwide for a ninth edition from 22 to 30 January 2021. This annual festival, considered the pinnacle of Asiaā€™s visual arts calendar, a joint initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

This time, the festival takes on a hybrid format across both physical and digital platforms, allowing locals to once again familiarise themselves with art spaces in Singapore and for global audiences to discover and experience Southeast Asian art virtually.

Glad it’s still going to happen.

Yes! Despite many worldwide events being cancelled or forced to adapt a solely online format, the festival is determined to “continue presenting art and creations in a fresh and innovative manner”, calling on our vibrant artist community to take up the challenge. What is birthed from this spirit of resilience and innovation is a blend of experimentation with new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, unlikely collaborations, and critical discourse under a fitting theme dubbed “Art Takes Over”.

What can we expect?

In hopes of cementing the notion that art is for everyone ā€” not just artsy-types or gallery-goers ā€” this edition will take place at the usual art and cultural institutions such as National Gallery Singapore and arts spaces within Gillman Barracks, but also beyond. Most notably, the festival will venture into unconventional public spaces and neighbourhoods including Bras Basah Complex, Tanjong Pagar Distripark, national parks, bus stops and more, making art more accessible to the masses.

Tay Tong, Director of Sector Development (Visual Arts) at NAC, shared, ā€œā€˜Art Takes Overā€™ takes on a whole new meaning this year, as SAW 2021 not only crosses the walls of galleries into streets and homes, but also transcends time and space in the digital realm. This is also a reflection of the larger evolving arts scene, where audiences are increasingly able to enjoy art anywhere and everywhere, and are no longer confined to a physical location or the conventional white cube.”

Is this a first?

Indeed. This complementary blended format will host over 100 programmes and showcase the largest number of commissioned works to date, with over 40 outstanding Singapore-based projects reflecting the diverse capabilities of more than 300 artists and curators from Singapore and beyond.

Will crowd favourites return?

Much to the delight of art enthusiasts, favourites like State of Motion 2021: [Alternate/Opt] Realities by Asian Film Archive; ARTWALK at Little India by LASALLE College of the Arts; and S.E.A. Focus 2021 by STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery will be returning.

The ever-popular Light to Night Festival 2021 ā€” whose partnership with Art Skins were a mainstay for last four editions ā€” returns with a new theme of ā€œ_____-In-Progressā€ after a successful pilot this year with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). In the coming edition, to illuminate and excite the Civic District once again, they are expanding this mentorship opportunity to students from not only NYP but Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) who will be paired with artist mentors in the creative and technical aspects of projection mapping.

Anything new and interactive?

For the everyday person travelling by public transport, don’t be surprised if you find art installations and interventions at bus stops along the east-west route of bus 175. Named Bus.Stop.Art, this islandwide project draws art to the spaces where Singaporeans live, work, and commute, bringing a much-needed sense of joy and wonder to the everyday.

Interact with the pieces and the artists through curator tours on the bus, self-guided tours, meet the artists sessions, interactive artworks, as well as downloadable and online activities.

More a traveller by train than bus? Singaporeans can expect an “art train” ā€” the first of its kind ā€” which aims to spark serendipitous encounters with art while being in transit. The names of the artists involved will be revealed in January 2021.

How about the virtual realm?

Audiences are invited to explore and dissect the impact of digital mediums on human connection through the visual arts. A exhibition like Networked Bodies by Supernormal investigates communication and intimacy through the internet, with digital works, media installations and works housed on social media, meanwhile Shifting Between by Our Softest Hour plays on the seams of the digital and physical realms, inviting audiences to explore the shifts in how they engage with and experience intimacy and vulnerability.

You can also join the conversation with SAW stakeholders at POWWOW organised in partnership with Art & Market to discuss new ideas and networks for the future of art and explore how exhibitions can comfortably inhabit both virtual and physical spaces.

Art enthusiasts can also look forward to Asian Art in the 21st Century ā€“ Narratives of History and Curation by Sothebyā€™s, a panel discussion led by art historians and curators.

The SAW Digital page also offers digital offerings that supplement Januaryā€™s physical programmes. A notable highlight on the website is the 360Ā° view function which will allow visitors to explore virtual exhibitions from the comfort of their homes, presenting the visual arts in new and experiential ways that may be accessed anytime and anywhere.


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