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Asian Public Art News
Art and similar interventions in public space. Coverage moves outwards from Singapore through Asia to the rest of the world. Like nothing else, the idea of "public art" exposes the contradiction inherent in our ideas of "the public" and of "art".

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Sunday, May 10, 2009
originally uploaded by chooyutshing.
Last Tuesday I walked across Raffles Place for a meeting nearby. I purposely chose a route that would allow me to walk through the area, one of the more important (and usually quite pleasant) public spaces in Singapore. My mood was spoiled very quickly.

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite as disturbing as these "Fashionista Horseshoe" things placed around Raffles Place. This amalgam of hindquarters, high-heeled shoe and horsehead pressed to the ground is simply spooky. As I read in the Sunday Times of May 10, the sculptures, commissioned by the Singapore Turf Club, are shown "perched atop giant shoeboxes". (But not giant enough to actually be capable of holding the horseshoes I can't help but note.)

From the Sunday Times I also learned that these "Fashionista Horseshoes" were placed at Junction8, Plaza Singapura and Clarke Quay by CapitaLand, in addition to Raffles Place.

I guess this blog's (fading) commitment to cover public art means I have to look at stuff like this an comment, but really it's too depressing.

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Monday, September 08, 2008
  Singapore Biennale in the public art biz - a win-win?
In 2006, Singapore's Biennale organizers used the pulpit of Singapore's first Biennale to secure a series of public art commissions for VivoCity - major shopping center development. This approach continues, as an article in Friday's Business Times reveals. Relevant bits below:
"In fact, the Singapore Biennale committee is banking on the event to boost the city's public art scene in a way that people can still enjoy the works of some of the Biennale artists long after the event is over. That is why they are working to match artists with prospective 'clients' such as property developers to commission artworks for new buildings that the public can enjoy.

Win-win situation

'Part of the Biennale is to secure public commissions so that the (public art) landscape will change quite dramatically with each edition (of the Biennale),' explains Low Kee Hong, assistant director (visual arts) of the National Arts Council and general manager for the Singapore Biennale.

'Working with developers is a natural fit, since that enables artists to work closely with architects for new buildings. The advantage is that the artwork can interact intimately with the architecture,' he adds.

The win-win situation is that the Biennale gives developers access to different artists, local and international, most of whom are up-and-coming if not already established. These public sculptures and installations will act as landmarks and navigation points for malls, says Mr Low, likening it to Tokyo's Roppongi Hills where one can rely on public art to navigate the area.

'For the commissioned work this year, we're working with two developers: Sino Land which is developing Fullerton Heritage and its sister company Far East Organization, which is building Orchard Central mall,' says Mr Low.

Orchard Central will have the biggest commission to date, budgeting $10 million for 12 artists to come up with at least 12 works. Fullerton Heritage has commissioned two artists for the first phase of its development.

For this Biennale though, only the two works at Fullerton Heritage - by Frenchman Daniel Buren and Danish Jeppe Hein - will be ready for viewing. The pieces for Orchard Central will only be unveiled next April when the mall opens.

In 2006, Mapletree Investments commissioned a collection of 13 art pieces for VivoCity, at a cost of $1.5 million."
Anything to educate property developers on the possibilities of public art would seem like a very good idea. However several questions come to mind.
  • How does this activity, of matching developers and artists, work with (or against) the curatorial project of the Biennale?
  • Is this activity meant to make money for the Biennale?
  • Is the Biennale now competing with the small group of curators and gallerists who work to secure public art commissions in Singapore currently?
  • And my hobby horse, what is the Biennale's approach to the process of commissioning public works?

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