Produced by SilverKris for National Gallery Singapore
December is a time for school holidays, clearing annual leave and spending quality time with loved ones before the arrival of a brand-new year. If you’re on the hunt for something special to do for your next date night, get-together with friends or family outing, National Gallery Singapore has you covered with its latest electrifying exhibition. Nam June Paik: The Future Is Now opened this month and is now on view until 27 March, 2022.
The ground-breaking, immersive event brings together over 180 enthralling pieces from the visionary South Korean artist – including installations, projections and video sculptures. The show invites audiences to reflect on their relationship with technology and its intersection with nature, music and philosophy. All in all, it promises to be a riveting feast for the senses.
But if you’re still on the fence about heading down to the Gallery, here are more reasons why this is Singapore’s art event of the year.
1. Nam June Paik is regarded as a pioneer of video art
Born in present-day South Korea in 1932, Paik went on to live in Japan, Germany and the United States, and was a key figure in various 20th-century avant-garde movements. This includes the Fluxus movement, which sought to break down boundaries between art and life. But Paik wasn’t just a pioneer in the art world. Besides being widely credited a pioneer of video art, Paik is responsible for coining the phrase “electronic superhighway” which foretold transformations in the way people would interact in the new digital age.
2. This is the world-touring exhibition’s only Asian stop
There’s much anticipation and fanfare surrounding Nam June Paik: The Future Is Now, and rightly so. The event – spanning over five decades of the artist’s work – is the Gallery’s first international show since the start of the pandemic. Moreover, the Gallery is also the only institution in Asia that will be hosting the show.
Before arriving in the Lion City, Nam June Paik: The Future Is Now already made waves throughout the international art world. The globe-trotting exhibition debuted to rave reviews at London’s Tate Modern in late 2019; stopped for a stint at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum in 2020; and most recently showed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) earlier this year. Singapore marks the final stop on the travelling retrospective’s global tour, and is the last time you can catch the exhibition before it ends its run on 27 March, 2022.
3. It’s packed with robots and immersive installations
Paik’s interactive works feature a riot of colours, shapes and digital techniques that offer the perfect backdrop for eye-catching photos. The expansive selection ranges from immersive installations and multi-sensory projections to video sculptures and even robots.
Highlights include TV Garden, a mixed-media installation featuring old televisions interspersed with lush, live plants; Sistine Chapel, an immersive video projection that uses the Vatican City show-stopper as a jumping-off point to explore ideas of mass media and digital excess; and John Cage Robot II, a sculpture made out of materials including vintage television cabinets, DVD players and piano keys.
Contemporary art fans can also explore works relating to Paik’s collaborations with artist Joseph Beuys, cellist Charlotte Moorman and composer John Cage, plus view archival materials that reference Paik’s training in music and participation in movements such as Fluxus.
4. Some artworks will only be seen in Singapore
Besides many exciting works that captivated audiences at the London, Amsterdam and San Francisco editions, the exhibition’s Singapore stop includes a clutch of must-see pieces that are exclusive to the city-state.
These include the video sculptures Grandfather, Grandmother and Sister from Paik’s visceral and meaningful generational Family of Robot series; as well as the larger-than-life Anonymous Crimean Tatar Who Saved Life of Joseph Beuys – Not Yet Thanked by German Folks, another of the artist’s signature mixed-media robot creations.
Also exclusive to Singapore is the Paik on Asia section, a series of pieces that surface the artist’s relationship with East Asian philosophy. Check out the colourful and evocative video installation Chinese Memory, a product of Paik’s deep fascination with China in his later years.
5. The exhibition includes enthralling online content
If you’ve made your way through the exhibition at the Gallery but still want more, simply hop online. Nam June Paik: The Future Is Now is complemented by online bonus content that allows you to further enrich your understanding of Paik’s personal life and artistic practice. Visit the portal for a mix of curatorial essays, video interviews, artwork highlights and a detailed biographical timeline.
Non-ticket holders can access the website, too, though you certainly don’t want to miss out on this landmark experience in person. Be sure to get your tickets today. Those who have yet to use up their SingapoRediscovers Vouchers can use them to purchase tickets before they expire on 31 December, 2021.
Be sure to get your tickets today to access the main exhibition located at Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery Level 3. The revamped Basement Concourse offers free and easy art encounters to everyone. The space is currently home to Paik’s most immersive artworks, such as Sistine Chapel and TV Garden.
Please check the Gallery’s website for opening hours and visitor information, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.