The Singapore Contemporary and Contemporary Art in Singapore
Lecture by Professor C.J. Wee Wan-ling, Nanyang Technoloical University of Singapore
National Museum of Singapore
21 January 2017
Presented in conjunction with Singapore Art Week and the National Museum of Singapore’s contemporary art exhibition What is Not Visible is Not Invisible, “The Contemporary and Contemporary Art in Singapore: On the 1980s as a ‘Period’” is a lecture by Prof. C. J. Wee Wan-ling about the development of contemporary art in Singapore. The idea of contemporary art presupposes an idea of the contemporary not only as a structure of time, but also as a concept of how we live in society. What then is contemporary art in Singapore, and how does it relate to the socio-political context in which it functions – one where culture as a notion from the 1980s has become more prominent? This presentation examines the state-driven modernisation and industrialisation processes in the city-state, and why culture in “pragmatic” Singapore seems to matter more from the 1980s. It also considers how the emergence of what we now call contemporary art emerged in Singapore partially as a response to the modernisation drive in the late 1960s to 1970s.
Download summary report of the lecture The Singapore Contemporary and Contemporary Art in Singapore
About the speaker
C. J. W.-L. Wee is Professor of English at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has held Visiting Fellowships at, among other institutions, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University. Wee is the author of Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern (2003) and The Asian Modern: Culture, Capitalist Development, Singapore (2007). He is also the editor of The Complete Works of Kuo Pao Kun, Vol. 4: Plays in English (2012).
HistoriaSG is a lecture series that focuses on important but lesser-known aspects of Singapore’s history. With in-depth presentations by local and international academics on a range of topics viewed through a variety of lens from business to science and technology, the environment and specific communities, the series sheds new light on Singapore’s culture, history and heritage. Organised by the National Museum of Singapore, HistoriaSG is part of the museum’s efforts to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s history. Please visit National Museum of Singapore's website for information on upcoming lectures.