Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Charles Lim, SEA STATE: phase 1 (production still), 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Future Perfect, Singapore.

March 2, 2015

9 May–22 November 2015

Singapore Pavilion
Arsenale – Sale d’Armi
Campo della Tana 2169/F

The artist Charles Lim will represent Singapore at the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The presentation, commissioned by the National Arts Council, Singapore, will see the culmination of Lim’s critically acclaimed SEA STATE project in the newly restored Sale d’Armi building at the Arsenale.

SEA STATE is a project in nine parts, initiated in 2005 by artist and former Olympic sailor Charles Lim with the premise of inverting perceptions of sea and land on the island of Singapore. It explores the biophysical, political and psychic contours of the Southeast Asian city-state, through the visible and invisible lenses of the sea. The project’s structure is inspired by the World Meteorological Organization’s code for measuring sea conditions, which numbers the varying states ranging from calm, to moderate, to the phenomenal.

With its impressive urban edifice, Singapore has long defined itself by an ability to overcome environmental constraints. Its often bold solutions—from epic land reclamation to the vast undersea caverns recently unveiled off its southern coast—are potent symbols for the national imaginary, reflecting both its aspirations and its realization. Created by maritime trade, both colonial and modern, the tiny island nation has found itself at the intersection of pressing global debates around resource use, climate change and territorial sovereignty.

Charles Lim’s practice stems from an intimate engagement with the natural world, mediated and informed by field research and experimentation, performance, drawing, photography and video. His works make visible a dynamic coastal ecology, showing how the infrastructures of global capitalism do not replace the maritime environment, but inhabit and transform it. In an era of rapid global exchange, the complex, transnational spaces of the sea play host to a dynamic interplay between nature and culture, framing many of the key challenges and anxieties of our time. The pavilion’s curator, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, notes: “SEA STATE, as it will be presented in Venice, could be seen as a steady accumulation, a linking of poetic moments and discrepant realities, in search of a vocabulary about the sea and the demands one makes of it.” 

After a brief hiatus in 2013, Singapore returns to Venice this year with a pavilion in the historic Arsenale for the first time. Paul Tan, Deputy Chief Executive, National Arts Council, says: “la Biennale di Venezia remains the premier platform to showcase Singapore’s visual artists to the world, and connect them with their international peers. We are excited to see Charles’s work take shape and this global platform will provide crucial critical validation to his practice. As modern Singapore turns 50, we wish for the country to grow as a centre for artistic production and research in Asia.”

The official launch of the Singapore Pavilion will take place on Wednesday 6 May from 3 to 5pm. An exhibition catalogue will be published for the launch of the pavilion, featuring essays by Ute Meta Bauer, Prasenjit Duara and Anselm Franke, amongst other leading thinkers.

More information on Charles Lim and Shabbir Hussain Mustafa is available here

Media enquiries

Mr. John Diviney
Brunswick Arts Consulting LLP
T +44 (0) 20 7396 5366 / M +44 7720 337488 / jdiviney [​at​]

Ms. Binjin Ho 
National Arts Council
T +65 6346 9471 / M +65 8127 6898 / ho_binjin [​at​]

About National Arts Council 
The National Arts Council (NAC) spearheads the development of the arts in Singapore while advancing the country’s aspiration to be a distinctive global city for the arts. NAC’s mission is to nurture the arts and make Singapore’s rich and diverse culture an integral part of people’s lives. Anchored on the twin strategies of excellence and engagement in the arts, NAC aims to build a vibrant arts sector by creating a conducive environment where the arts is accessible to all, and artistic talents have the necessary resources and capabilities to excel and achieve long-term sustainability. For more information on NAC’s programmes and initiatives, please visit

Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
March 2, 2015

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