Our Forum about 'Artist and Empire' at Tate Britain has expanded to a second part on the new edition of the exhibition in Singapore (6 Oct 2016 – 26 Mar 2017). Staged as a live debate on January 12, 2017 at Singapore Art Week, the following papers stem from presentations given with a focus on the contemporary artists voices in the exhibition. Organised in association with Tate Britain, the Gallery’s second international exhibition explores the different ways in which the British Empire has been represented and contested through art. It critically examines art produced for the British Empire from a contemporary perspective, and features viewpoints from Southeast Asia. The exhibition also takes a close look at the relationship between colonial experience and the rise of modern art in former colonies such as Singapore, with a special focus on Sir Stamford Raffles.
Ranging from the 16th century to the present day, Artist and Empire draws upon close to 200 works from international and regional collections as well as Singapore institutions. The National Gallery Singapore’s revision of the Tate’s Artist and Empire exhibition (2015) is the basis for further debate of contemporary artistic responses to colonial history in the former British dominions. In deciding to hold the Artist and Empire exhibition in Singapore in 2016, the National Gallery Singapore was drawn to the show’s potential resonance with its audiences, given Singapore’s history as a former British colony. This panel discussion and Third Text forum papers follows Part 1 on the Tate Britain iteration of the exhibition. The focus is on artist’s voices and curatorial strategies of address and design, historical revisions of national narratives of empire and different institutional perspectives and critique in the global and local context of Singapore. Differing from the Tate in its framing of the historical through the lens of contemporary art, the Singapore iteration of Artist and Empire provides an exhibition history through which to reflect on the larger issues in Asian, British, and settler colonial art histories.
Hence Third Text together with LASALLE College of the Arts hosted a series of responses to this exhibition in its local and international contexts. It was introduced by Third Text editor, Professor Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, and there are contributions from Venka Purushothaman (Vice-President (Academic) & Provost, LASALLE) and Professor Janis Jefferies (Visual Arts, Goldsmiths, University of London); artists including Erika Tan; publisher Anca Rujoiu; and the curators of the exhibition, Low Sze Wee, Toffa Abdul Wahed, Junni Chen, and Melinda Susanto on Reframing Artist and Empire.