March 16, 2019 - Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Song-Ming Ang: Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme
March 16, 2019

Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Song-Ming Ang, Recorder Rewrite, 2019. Film still courtesy of the artist.

Song-Ming Ang
Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme
May 11–November 24, 2019

Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Arsenale – Sale d’Armi
Campo della Tana 2169/F
30122 Venice
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm
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Song-Ming Ang will represent Singapore at the 58th Venice Biennale. His presentation, Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme, explores the myriad of ways people relate to music, on a personal and societal level, and how music can affect a sense of agency. Commissioned by the National Arts Council Singapore, the multidisciplinary presentation comprises film, digital prints, sculptures and banners, and will be on display at the Arsenale’s Sale d’Armi building from May 11 to November 24, 2019.

Ang’s works examine the social aspects of sound and music, bridging various creative fields including the visual arts, experimental music and popular culture. His practice also traverses a variety of media, from video and performance to installation and participatory art.

The presentation for the Biennale takes reference from a series of music concerts, titled Music for Everyone, organised in the 1970s by then-Ministry of Culture of Singapore, to promote Western classical music education and appreciation, and to foster a sense of national identity. The works present a counterpoint to state-prescribed forms of music and commonly held notions of the arts. They draw 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.

Central to the presentation is a three-channel film installation, Recorder Rewrite. It features the recorder, a musical instrument that has been an enduring part of Singapore’s music education curriculum since the 1970s. Shot at the Singapore Conference Hall, a cultural landmark of modern Singapore and an original venue of the Music for Everyone concerts, it features children from diverse cultural and musical backgrounds performing a composition of their own, following a workshop on improvisation exercises and unconventional uses of the recorder.

The presentation also includes simple sculptures of stacked recorders assembled from the recorders used in the film, as well as collages of music manuscript paper. A selection of the original Music for Everyone concert posters has also been recreated as a series of fabric banners and watercolour on paper paintings. In creating this body of new works, Ang employed techniques and materials familiar to the everyman, emphasising handicraft and the spirit of amateurism as a contrast to the formal, state-driven vision of Music for Everyone.

The pavilion’s curator, Michelle Ho, says: “Many Singaporeans would have encountered the recorder as part of their early music education, which was modelled after a British syllabus because of a colonial legacy. The instrument also seems to have left an indelible impression on many people, from Europe to South America. We hope that through Recorder Rewrite, we can share with new audiences from around the world, an experience that is peculiarly Singaporean, but that might also resonate with them in their own ways.”

On what inspired him, Ang says: “Apart from the cool, 70’s aesthetic of the original concert posters, I was most intrigued by what could be gleaned from the programmes and performers, and how it reflected the state’s agenda in terms of nation-building and foreign policy. Even the venues, ticket prices and sponsors form a charming snapshot of Singapore at that point of time.”

Rosa Daniel, CEO of NAC, says: “La Biennale di Venezia continues to be the premier platform for Singapore artists to distinguish themselves on the global stage, broaden their perspectives and build meaningful connections with their international peers. We look forward to seeing the various components of Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme take form to tell the story of Singapore’s arts and music education.”

The official opening of the Singapore Pavilion will be on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

For more information and hi-resolution images

Media enquiries

Stephanie Chailert
Ogilvy Singapore
T +65 6213 7969, stephanie.chailert [​at​]

Emily Saunders
Flint London
T +44 (0) 2034700093, emily.saunders [​at​]

Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme
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