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Mama Magnet
Photograph: Singapore Art Week 2021 / Mama Magnet

The coolest events you shouldn't miss at Singapore Art Week 2021

Singapore's visual arts calendar pinnacle is kickstarting the year

By Dewi Nurjuwita and Cam Khalid

After surviving a tough year, Singapore's art industry has emerged even stronger than before. As proof of that, the ninth edition Singapore's visual arts calendar pinnacle, Singapore Art Week (SAW) is kickstarting 2021. Running from January 22 to 30, its latest iteration stays true to SAW's theme of 'Art Takes Over' – spanning across both physical and digital realms this time. Alongside familiar programmes, this year's edition boasts new offerings that aim to make visual arts more accessible to the public. Stoked to find out? Here are the coolest events you shouldn't miss at Singapore Art Week 2021. 

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Light to Night Festival 2020
Photograph: National Gallery Singapore

Light To Night Festival

Art Digital and interactive Singapore City, Raffles Place

See the Civic District come to life with a slew of vivid artworks and engaging activities once again – this time, as a redefined, hybrid experience. A marquee event for Singapore Art Week, the Light to Night Festival offers art workshops and live-streamed talks that can be enjoyed at home, as well as an adventure of discovery around the District, and showcases at surprising places outside the historic precinct. Art in the Civic District also extends on the walls of iconic institutions and transforms sites such as the Asian Civilisations Museum, The Arts House, Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay into works of art.

S.E.A. Focus 2021
Photograph: Jens Ziehe

S.E.A. Focus

Art Singapore City, Raffles Place

Experience the best of Southeast Asian art under one roof at S.E.A. Focus 2021, led by STPI - Creative Workshop and Gallery and supported by the National Arts Council. The annual showcase returns for its third edition this year as a progressive physical and online showcase with two offerings, S.E.A. Focus Digital and S.E.A. Focus Curated.

Taking place at Tanjong Distripark is hyper-horizon, a physical exhibition of S.E.A. Focus Curated. The exhibition showcases a curated selection of works as a seamless exhibition experience, contrary to the typical art fair presentation where works are shown in segregated booths. The aim is to make exploring and uncovering fresh perspectives of Southeast Asian art a more accessible and inviting affair.

This edition showcases works from 27 leading local and international art galleries. Lehmann Maupin (New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, London) and Edouard Malingue Gallery (Hong Kong, Shanghai) – which are both taking part for the first time – are presenting works by artists from the Southeast Asian region. Discover emerging local artists who should be on your radar such as Jamie Tan and Jamie Teo, Ian Tee, and Ashley Yeo – and take in the brilliance of established artists including art and design collective PHUNK, Jimmy Ong and Ho Tzu Nyen.

You can also marvel at works from notable artists from the region such as Indonesian artist Syaiful Garibaldi, Thai video artist Kawita Vatanajyankur, Vietnamese artist Hà Ninh Pham, up-and-coming Filipino artist Pow Martinez, as well as London-based Malaysian artist Mandy El-Sayegh. 

But hold your breath for the highlight at this year's hyper-horizon, Thai contemporary artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s monumental, site-specific tapestry installation, 'untitled 2016 (nothing)'. The installation is stitched up of saffron dyed cotton, thread, metal grommets. Another notable piece is Ho Tzu Nyen’s 'The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia', an impressive video work which will debut in its entirety at S.E.A. Focus, as well as PHUNK’s 'Control Chaos', a large-scale painting produced to commemorate collective's 25th year anniversary. 


Artwalk Little India 2020
Photograph: Artwalk Little India

Artwalk Little India

Art Public art Little India, Newton

The vibrant streets of Little India are about to get even more colourful with the return of Artwalk Little India, as part of Singapore Art Week. Based on the theme ‘In Spite Of’, the multisensory art experience brings the history and traditions of Little India to life through workshops, storytelling sessions, and music and dance performances which are available to watch via Facebook and Zoom, as well as six wall murals and art installations peppered around the cultural enclave.

Creative Unions
Photograph: Neighborhood

Creative Unions

Shopping Funan, City Hall

A trip to Funan is always a treat – it's home to over 190 tenants and many vibrant spaces like the indoor cycling path, the indoor climbing wall, and even the rooftop urban farm. But it's about to get even more electrifying with Creative Unions, a major month-long art-meets-retail programme that elevates the shopping experience across fashion, food and lifestyle with art. Over 10 visual artists and brands – local and international – team up to roll out unique experiences for shoppers. These artists have given everyday items such as bicycles, home accessories, and sneakers a refreshing spin that reflects their innovative design and signature style.

Art Encounters
Photograph: Art Encounters

Art Encounters: AltARed State by Eugene Soh

Art Outdoor art Ngee Ann City, Orchard

Onto its third edition, Art Encounters returns to Orchard Road as part of Singapore Art Week 2021. This time, it features a unique Augmented Reality (AR) experience by tech artist Eugene Soh (aka DUDE). Called AltARed State, it is an invitation to discover how you might have been affected in this new and constantly evolving state in which we live. Galvanising the power of art and technology to bring to life, the interactive installation situates the viewer in the centre of the work – and the world that Soh has created. 

Art Encounters was first launched during Singapore Art Week 2020 as a travelling artist's studio and gallery housed within repurposed shipping containers. Its aim was to bring art to unique sites around Singapore. The first edition, which took place last January, featured Lionel Sabatte, one of the most renowned French contemporary artists; while the second one takes the form of a black-light drawing installation in the historic district of Kampong Glam. 

Wild Critters
Photograph: Wild Critters

Wild Critters

Art Digital and interactive Gillman Barracks, Kent Ridge

Five artists and collectives - Tell Your Children, Machineast, SuperCyberTown, ClogTwo and UFHO – have each created a fictional endangered critter that lives across five different habitats in the district of Gillman Barracks. Head on down and interact with the critters through an Instagram Augmented Reality (AR) filter on your phone.

Jason Lim
Photograph: Jason Lim

Singapore Ceramics Now

Art Ceramics and pottery Gillman Barracks, Kent Ridge

Renowned Singapore ceramicist and performance artist Jason Lim partners up with SEED the Art Space for the inaugural edition of Singapore Ceramics Now 2021 (SCN). Featuring works by 19 Singapore-based artists, SCN is one of the largest surveys of ceramics art in local history since the 90s. It brings together artists from various disciplines, celebrating the diverse processes, techniques and artistic ideas within ceramics art in Singapore. The show opens on January 20 during Singapore Art Week and will be located at Block 7 of Gillman Barracks. 


Photograph: PURE EVER

State of Motion 2021: [Alternate / Opt] Realities

Things to do Marina One, Raffles Place

Multidisciplinary series State of Motion returns for its sixth edition this Singapore Art Week 2021. This year's theme, State of Motion 2021: [Alternate / Opt] Realities, explores our visually engineered futures as conjured up by the science fiction genre and the magical efficacy of its images. 

State of Motion 2021: [Alternate / Opt] Realities features 11 exciting art installations which span Marina One alongside 16 Southeast Asian sci-fi films from the last 30 years. Curated by Syaheedah Iskandar and Thong Kay Wee, the visual art exhibition conjures pathways into multiple worlds by exploring the science-fiction genre through audio-visual technologies. Most of the works are on display in Singapore for the first time, including nine new commissions by Singapore and regional artists such as Shawn Chua, Debbie Ding, Divaagar, Bani Haykal and collective PURE EVER. 

Artist-musician Bani Haykal's commission momok elektrik is an audio installation of voice samples that speculates how machines of the future will codify speech; Divaagar's Shelter Skelter, held in an "ancient" bunker built for the 2000s epidemics, projects audiences 200 years into the future to look back at Singapore in the year 2022; and Debbie Ding's The Legend of Debbie is a single-channel projection that takes the form of a gameplay video. 

The film programme will be screened at Marina One auditorium and the Oldham Theatre. It consists of 16 Southeast Asian sci-fi cinematic imaginations of the future – including For My Alien Friend by Manila-based filmmaker Jet Leyco, Kuo Jian Hong’s Avatar and a double bill screening of Geomancer (2017) and AIDOL (2019). For the full film schedule, visit

Choy Ka Fai
Photograph: Choy Ka Fai

CosmicWander: Expedition by Choy Ka Fai

Art Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Habourfront

Launching Singapore Art Museum's 2021 exhibition and programmes calendar is CosmicWander: Expedition. An investigation into the relationship between humans and worldly phenomena, the exhibition is an ongoing project by Berlin-based Singapore artist Choy Ka Fai. It explores shamanic dance cultures in Asia, delving into the process of worlding across different communities. CosmicWander: Expedition is set up as an experiential platform that presents the artist’s perspective on humanity’s attempt to connect, to question, and to perceive and interact with different states of reality.

Aisha Rosli
Photograph: Cuturi Gallery

c/discoveries: A Solo Show by Aisha Rosli

Art Cuturi Gallery, Rochor

Emerging fine artist Aisha Rosli is staging her first solo presentation at Cuturi Gallery during Singapore Art Week following successful exhibitions at Cuturi Gallery last year. As part of the c/discoveries programme, it seeks to chronicle her journey thus far. Aisha's works have been featured in group exhibitions at Sangkring Art Space, Yogyakarta, Coda Culture in Singapore and Unit London in the UK.

Photograph: Singapore Art Week 2021


Art Kult Studio & Gallery, Rochor

This solo visual exhibition by Comet Girl (Cherie Sim), co-curated by Eddie Ching (Artblovck Pop-up Gallery), showcases a collection of works produced from 2019-2020. Utilising digital mediums and an interactive mixed-media installation, Allergies encourages audiences to reflect on their base needs and reach out to their own subconscious desires and address them. Audiences can interact with the exhibits by getting up close and feeling them to feed the primal need to explore base desires. 

Singapore Art Week 2021
Photograph: Rena Hasni

Inner Like The OutAR

Art Gillman Barracks, Kent Ridge

Immerse yourself in psychotropic digital environments created by Reza Hasni and Siah Tiong Hong amongst set design by Tina Fung (Space Objekt) and sound design by Intriguant at Inner Like The OutAR. The art installation uses augmented reality to bring you closer to the magic of nature. The experience is curated by Tulika Ahuja (MAMA MAGNET).

The Arts House
Photograph: The Arts House

I Want To Go Home

Art Installation The Arts House, City Hall

Engage your senses with The Arts House's signature outdoor installation open books. Located on its front porch, the experiential art installation takes inspiration from local author and filmmaker Wesley Leon Aroozoo's non-fiction novel I Want To Go Home. Immerse yourself and be one with the art while encountering the strength of a man's love and resilience to be reunited with his loved one. As part of Light to Night Festival, open books: I Want to Go Home  sees multidisciplinary artists bring the novel to life, highlighting the importance of love, hope and determination, especially in times of crisis.

Where Did Macy Go?
Photograph: Ziyang Wu/Hatch Art Project

Where Did Macy Go?

Art Mixed media Hatch Art Project, Tiong Bahru

Where Did Macy Go? isn't just a question. It's also New York-based artist Ziyang Wu's first solo exhibition in Singapore that showcases an engaging combination of video, photographic prints and a colossal inflatable. The animated video reveals a series of reports of Macy's encounter with the epidemic, life during the quarantine, search for his grandfather’s farm, and his revival. Originally posted on TikTok to challenge the possibility of online exhibitions, the work is a response to this era of volatility, complexity, and confusion.

Photograph: NTU CCA

Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks.

Art NTU CCA Singapore, Kent Ridge

Free Jazz returns to NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore this Singapore Art Week. The inaugural programme brings together artists, curators, art critics and scholars to imagine and contribute to the thinking and envisioning of the potentials for this new Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore. 

For Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks., collectivity and commonality are explored through art experiences that draw on the long histories of sound and walking, offering concrete ways to connect with nature, technology, and each other during times of social distancing. So bring your headphones and your walking shoes to experience the artworks of Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks.

Volume Eleven
Photograph: Richard Koh Fine Art/Ash Ghazali

Volume Eleven

Art Mixed media Richard Koh Fine Art, Bukit Merah

Singapore-born, UK-based artist Ash Ghazali takes over the space of Richard Koh Fine Art (RKFA) at Gillman Barracks with eleven new works from his Cut Paintings series, all as part of his solo exhibition Volume Eleven. The new attention-grabbing pieces combine geometric abstraction with traditional fabrics from the Malay ethnic groups of Indonesia and Malaysia, where the award-winning art whizz cut fabrics from traditional costumes and painted canvases to form a series of folds and layers.

A Matter of Time
Photograph: Wyn-Lyn Tan/Fost Gallery

A Matter of Time

Art Mixed media FOST Gallery, Bukit Merah

Artist Wyn-Lyn Tan is adding some colours to the walls of Fost Gallery as part of Singapore Art Week with her exhibition A Matter of Time. Exploring the idea of 'matter' which alludes to both the inevitability of time, as well as material substances, the artist employed the use of clear plexiglass and metal as substrates to examine painting's relationship with time, perception, and space – something she has never done before. Want to tap into the creative mind of Wyn-Lyn? Her Artist's Talks are held in the gallery on January 23 and 30, from 3.30pm.

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