The Singapore Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia was officially opened on Thursday, 9 May 2019 by Guest-of-Honour Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Transport, at the Sale d’Armi building at the Arsenale in Venice.
Interdisciplinary artist Song-Ming Ang and curator Michelle Ho puts Singapore in the spotlight with a presentation that extends Ang’s practice of using music as a platform to explore ideas of public involvement, and the myriad ways people relate to music, both individually and collectively. Titled Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme, Ang’s presentation takes inspiration from Music For Everyone, a series of concerts organised by Singapore’s then-Ministry of Culture in the 1970s and 80s to encourage public appreciation of the arts.
The works present a counterpoint to state-prescribed forms of music and commonly held notions of the arts. Ang draws on principles of experimental music and conceptual art to playfully but persuasively show how art can be created by anyone using simple ideas and elementary techniques.
A major component of the presentation is Recorder Rewrite, a new work based on the recorder, a music instrument that has been part of Singapore’s music education in schools since the 1970s. Central to Ang’s vision that art can be created by anyone, the three-channel film installation features children from different cultural and musical backgrounds performing a composition of their own, following a two-day workshop on improvisation exercises and unconventional uses of the recorder.
The presentation also includes Recorder Sculptures, in which Ang disassembled various recorders into their three sections of head joint, barrel and foot joint, and then rearranged them into distinct forms that demonstrate the potential of art to be whimsical and free flowing.
Following a two-week intensive workshop on extended recorder techniques under the supervision of flutist and musical director Cecilia Vendarsco, children from the Istituto Comprensivo Dante Alighieri (Venezia) have created a short composition and performance, choreographed by dancer Francesca Poglie and curated by Lucia Longhi. These compositions and performances inspired by the film Recorder Rewrite took place on Thursday 9 May during the inauguration at 3.50pm, and on Friday 10 May at 3.15pm and 4pm.
Commenting on the presentation, curator Michelle Ho says:
“By elevating amateurism and agency against the state-prescribed notion of Music For Everyone, Ang’s presentation elicits a return to the fundamental impulse behind art-making: joy, not cleverness, and purposeful play.”
For more information on the Singapore Pavilion:
Dates: 11 May – 24 November 2019
Venue: Singapore Pavilion, Arsenale – Sale d’Armi, Venice, Italy