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Singapore Biennale 2016: 7 Exhibitions You Can't Miss

The fifth edition of the Singapore Biennale opened yesterday and runs till February 26, 2017. Featuring 58 works by 63 artists and art collectives from 19 countries and territories in Southeast Asia, East and South Asia, over 80 per cent of the works are new commissions or adaptations for the event.

The theme this year – “An Atlas Of Mirrors” – is, according to the Biennale’s creative director Susie Lingham, a referencing of “the atlases and mirrors that have been instrumental in humankind’s exploration of the world as we navigate and map our journeys into the unknown.”

Here, seven works spread across the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) that we consider unmissable:

#1: Deng Guoyuan's Noah's Garden II (2016) at SAM
The Chinese artist has created an artificial garden amidst a labyrinth of mirrors – so when you step in, you’ll feel like you’re inside a kaleidoscope. The bold neon colours of the plants are designed to assault the senses and blur the distinction between artifice and reality. #1: Deng Guoyuan's Noah's Garden II (2016) at SAM
Deng’s work also references colour-coding in maps, challenging our pre-conceived notions of the accuracy involved in map-making by stirring up uncertainty. #2: Eddy Susanto's The Journey Of Panji (2016) at SAM
Employing the use of materials like canvas, acrylic and wood, The Journey Of Panji is based on Javanese legend Prince Panji. The images in this work are taken from reliefs illustrating episodes from the Panji stories. #2: Eddy Susanto's The Journey Of Panji (2016) at SAM
What’s intriguing here is that the letters appear to be spilling out of the massive tome, suggesting that it is impossible to contain Southeast Asian narratives and celebrating the region’s shared cultural histories. #3: Azizan Paiman's Putar Alam Cafe (2016) at SAM @ 8Q
Talk about riffing cafe culture: The Malaysian artist is staging a full-service cafe exhibit, where he’ll be acting as both “bartender” and “mediator”. Besides serving food and drink, he’ll be managing conversations and debates amongst patrons. #3: Azizan Paiman's Putar Alam Cafe (2016) at SAM @ 8Q
Paiman’s aim is to conduct a social experiment to show how the media affects our perception and understanding of things around us – a reference to the cafe name, which stands for “charlatan” in Malay. #4: Pannaphan Yodmanee's Aftermath (2016) at SAM
The Thai artist has created a gigantic mural that investigates the intersections of the Buddhist cosmos and modern science. Using raw and natural materials, the work reflects scenes from heavens and earth in Southeast Asian history. #4: Pannaphan Yodmanee's Aftermath (2016) at SAM
Yodmanee’s key argument: That our constant fixation on progress and development has revealed our shortcomings and the awareness that there is a universe (whether it takes the forms of gods or other sentient beings) that are out of our control. #5: Harumi Yukutake's Paracosmos (2016) at SAM
We’ve already spotted this on our Instagram feeds, and with good reason – the Japanese artist’s site-responsive work is located in SAM’s circular stairwell, and aims to transport you into a “parallel world”. #5: Harumi Yukutake's Paracosmos (2016) at SAM
The mirrors here are used paradoxically: They hold images by having no inherent image and are “everywhere” and “nowhere” at once. #6: Subodh Gupta's Cooking The World (2016) at NMS
The Indian artist’s massive sculpture hangs in the airy atrium of the National Museum of Singapore, and comprises used aluminium vessels that are “inscribed” with personal histories. #6: Subodh Gupta's Cooking The World (2016) at NMS
The use of these battered pots and pans are Gupta’s way of highlighting the lives of people who have been marginalised by life and history, while the thin threads by which each pot hangs from points to the fragile, temporal nature of this work. #7: Han Sai Por's Black Forest (2016) at SAM
The Singaporean artist, who’s known for her work that investigates the impact of human activities on nature, presents a wood and charcoal installation that mimic the image of a forest that’s been destroyed. #7: Han Sai Por's Black Forest (2016) at SAM
The environmental message is loud and clear, both pricking consciences and yet reflecting Nature’s resilience in defending itself against catastrophes. Tickets are priced at $15 (for Singaporeans/PR) and $20 (standard). Buy them here.   Like this? See the amazing artwork these Asian artists created for Gucci, four art galleries in Singapore we love and the most Instagrammable spots in the National Gallery.