With the art events of the first half of 2015 over and the much anticipated national day parade and other events of SG50 behind us, we can turn our focus onto what’s on for the remaining months of 2015. Besides the opening of the National Gallery, the Singapore International Festival of Arts, Silver Arts, and Affordable Art Fair, what I was really looking forward to was the fifth edition of the Singapore Biennale which, if going by the fact that a biennale is an event that happens every two years, should have been on this year. However, until late last month nothing seemed to be visible at SAM, either in the museum building or on their website in the upcoming exhibition details section. A press release in late July finally announced that the next edition of the biennale would be held in 2016 from October 28 2016 to 26 February 2017.
Technically then, can we still call it a biennale? Since the last one was held from October 2013 to February 2014 doesn’t that make it a triennale now?
More importantly, what changes when a biennale becomes a triennale? Well to be honest, nothing much. It’s still a international or regional exhibition of contemporary art (depending on the focus of the exhibition- the Singapore Biennale has gone from an international to a Southeast Asian focus over its last four editions), it will still be organised around a theme and in all probability staged in more than one location around the island and it will still probably have associated outreach and community events. Like its predecessor, it will also be still organised by the Singapore Art Museum and commissioned by the National Art Council.
Interestingly, the third edition of the Singapore Biennale was also held after 3 years in 2011 and it seems like a pattern is emerging. With the first one in 2006 and subsequent ones in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2016, it seems we have a triennale after every two biennales. So maybe we should call it a bi-triennale?