Art in the time of a pandemic

SAW 2021’s ‘Bus.Stop.Art ‘curated by Amelia Abdullahsani and Merryn Trevethan involves artistic installations at bus stops along route 175, from Geylang to Clementi.

As the Singapore Art Week (SAW) returns for its ninth edition in January 2021, Tay Tong, director of Sector Development (Visual Arts) at the National Arts Council of Singapore, thinks outside the box on how art should be viewed at this time of the pandemic.

Tong talked of blended approaches to cater to audiences who can’t physically be at the venues.

“COVID-19 made us all realize the ways to innovate. There are many ways of making art. Sustainability of the artist is important. (SAW 2021) provides not only an opportunity for that to happen but also a platform for them to

co-create and explore,” Tong said in a video conference with media.

With over 100 programs on physical and digital platforms and 300 artists from Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, The Netherlands, UK and USA, audiences from around the world will discover and experience Southeast Asian art like never before at SAW 2021.

“Navigating the uncertain waters of the pandemic has showcased the resilience of our artists, as they have quickly adapted to these extraordinary times, experimenting with new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality so that they may continue presenting art and creations in a fresh and innovative manner,” Tong added.

Ho Ho Ying, ‘Gallop,’ 1977. / Photograph courtesy of the artist

Signature SAW events are set to return in January, including Light to Night Festival, State of Motion 2021: [Alternate/Opt] Realities by the Asian Film Archive; ARTWALK at Little India by La Salle College of the Arts and S.E.A.

Focus 2021 by STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery.

Ashley Yeo, ‘Drop of Light (Pyramid) (Detail),’ 2019. / photograph courtesy of Singapore Art Museum

SAW 2021 will also see for the first time Singapore’s first mall-wide art activation, Creative Unions by Neighborhood. Audiences are also invited to explore visual arts with the programs Networked Bodies by Supernormal, an exhibition that investigates communication and intimacy through the Internet with digital works and media installations; Shifting Between by Our Softest Hour which plays on the seams of the digital and physical realms; and Otherworlds: Non/digital realities by INSTINC that looks into the issue of translating works from reality to virtual reality and vice versa.

B Prabha,1981. / Photograph courtesy of Art Podium Singapore

As a top visual arts event in Asia, SAW 2021 will continue to take the lead in bridging connections and conversations across the world through its Art Symposium, a series of curated talks and panel discussions. Art enthusiasts can also look forward to a critical discourse on Asian art history and curating led by key art historians and curators.

Untitled, by Genevieve Leong, 2020. / photograph courtesy of the artist

“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,” Tong concluded.

Genevieve Chua, ‘After the Flood’ #29, 2011-2019. / photograph courtesy of the artist and STPI

SAW 2021 is presented by NAC, Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Economic Development Board. Visit for the full list of programs.

ILLUMINATING the civic district once again with the Light to Night Festival.

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