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Singapore Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale presents Pulp III online

April 23–November 27, 2022

Every character in every tale is displaced, a mis-shelved book, a mistranslated text. We are, like the characters we read, restless bodies obsessed with our misapprehensions and mistaken identities, elliptical and misaligned, spinning on axes of our own grinding. We lurk in our murk, we are miasma. —Shubigi Rao, Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book, Singapore: Rock Paper Fire, 2016

The Singapore Pavilion’s Pulp III: A Short Biography of the Banished Book exhibit at the 59th Venice Biennale, which was organized by Ute Meta Bauer, represents the halfway point of artist and writer Shubigi Rao’s decade-long Pulp project. The third book in the series, Pulp III: An Intimate Inventory of the Banished Book, and a brand-new multivocal film, Talking Leaves, created by Rao for the Pavilion, serve as the exhibition’s focal points. Through the artist’s extensive creative research process, the book and the movie both tell stories that speak of the significant history of print and open access.

An electronic copy of the book Pulp Vol. III is used as a tactic and a tool against dominant norms of information flow in the online extension of the Venice exhibition. Shubigi Rao’s 2017 drawing of a phylogenetic tree, Being a Brief Guide to the Banished Book, provides a close interpretation of the underlying issues she explores in her work. One can find a number of text and image snippets from the first three volumes of her Pulp book series by digging deeper into the tree. Her eponymous decade-long investigation and documentation of human striving, desire and yearning, eradication and violence, error and failure, which encapsulate the best and worst of people, is included in this passage.The website also includes stills from the documentary film Talking Leaves, which explores the stories of those fighting to save libraries and books via personal revelations, lyrical reflections, and mytho-poetics. The Pavilion’s paper maze-like interior design, created by architect Laura Miotto, is depicted in photos on the website.

Ute Meta Bauer explains, “Shubigi Rao employs the book and the moving image as formats of communication which tend to the parts in the story that have often been deliberately obscured by those in power and by the expenses of capital. Her research as an artist is deeply interested in the ‘keepers’ of culture, of histories, of herstories, of identity, wherein language becomes a home and a place of retreat to protect and yet lament that which is lost.”

The Singapore Pavilion, which takes up 250 square meters in the Sale d’Armi complex at the Arsenale and was commissioned by the National Arts Council, Singapore (NAC), is taking part in its tenth Venice Biennale. Since its formal inauguration on April 21, 2022, it has reportedly been one of the most popular Pavilions to visit.

Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive of NAC, states that “Over the years, NAC has strongly supported Shubigi in her practice, and her participation in the Singapore Pavilion with highly respected curator Ute Meta Bauer is a significant milestone in her artistic journey. We believe that Singapore’s participation will contribute to raising its profile as an emerging centre in Asia for artistic collaboration, production and research.”

Edwin Tong, Singapore’s Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) adds, “Art has the power to uplift and inspire us. Singapore’s milestone participation at the Venice Biennale demonstrates to the world the diversity and range of talents in our visual arts landscape, and what our arts practitioners are capable of. MCCY will continue to work closely with our arts community to support their endeavours to fly our flag high around the world. We welcome everyone to celebrate, connect, and reflect through Shubigi’s showcase.”

Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Arsenale – Sale d’Armi
Campo della Tana 2169/F
30122 Venice
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