14th October 2019
Singapore exhibition imagines the year 2219
A major exhibition developed by ArtScience Museum, as part of the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration, invites visitors to explore how our world might change over the next 200 years.
Featuring over two dozen artists, architects, filmmakers, writers and theatre companies from Singapore and around the world, 2219: Futures Imagined is an "immersive and experiential exhibition" that provides a journey into imaginary future worlds.
Throughout 2019, the Singapore Bicentennial has been examining Singapore's rich history since the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, as well as the five hundred years before that. The Bicentennial not only prompts reflection on the past two centuries, but also invites speculation on the 200 years that lie ahead. 2219: Futures Imagined explores the 200 years between now and 2219 – the year when the city-state will commemorate its quadricentennial.
Unfolding over five Acts, the exhibition explores how Singapore's society, culture and traditions may evolve when faced with global changes. Visitors are placed in scenarios that depict how their future lives may be altered by climate change and loss of the planet's biodiversity. The show provides a contemplative space for visitors to consider the global context that Singapore is part of, and how larger environmental forces will impact it.
“This new exhibition shifts the focus of the Singapore Bicentennial from the past to the future," says Honor Harger, Executive Director of the ArtScience Museum. "2219: Futures Imagined presents speculative ideas by more than 25 visionary artists from around the world. They will create ‘experiential futures’, immersive installations, theatrical sets, meditative spaces, interactive artworks, films, prints and sculptures allowing audiences to step into, and be part of, possible futures.
"The exhibition deliberately resists the utopian and dystopian futures we often see in science fiction, and instead focuses on ‘small futures’ – intimate and enduring stories and traditions which are passed down from generation to generation. 2219 invites visitors to reflect on what kind of future they want for Singapore, and what actions they may take now to bring that future into being.”
Act I articulates some of the worldwide transformations which are already occurring due to environmental degradation – desertification in some places, flooding in others – as visitors transition from 2019 into the world of the future.
In Act II, visitors will step into a possible future located in a public housing apartment set in the mid-21st century. Through cleverly designed interiors and strategic placement of various household items, the apartment enables visitors to experience the lived consequences of climate change, showing how Singaporeans may be forced to adapt. This section also includes artworks that show how Singapore, and its neighbouring nations, may acclimatise to a world being reshaped by rising sea levels, and disruptions to global trade.
Act III explores a possible new subterranean world, created by the necessity to migrate underground. The centrepiece is a detailed speculative architectural proposal for a large-scale underground living environment. Singapore's mastery of critical infrastructure is highlighted, suggesting that the island-state is well-placed to adjust to such a dramatic change. Act III also investigates how our relationship with nature may change, if we moved away from the surface where much of life is sustained.
Act IV presents a dramatic immersive installation that aims to evoke a sense of urgency, encouraging us to take steps towards environmental conservation to protect all our futures. Visitors are invited to take part in a piece of participatory theatre, which explores a future in which the oceans have adapted to support certain marine life, but the planet has become hostile for people. No matter how dramatically the world around us will change, the qualities that make Singapore unique will remain, as it moves towards its Quadricentennial.
The final section of the exhibition, Act V, meditates on how cultures and traditions persevere, suggesting it is through collective memories, and shared customs, that we will be able to create the links between the past, present and future.
At the heart of 2219: Futures Imagined is the "Library of Necessary Books". From literary canon, to DIY manuals, the Library is a collection of books that have been lovingly handed down for generations. Visitors are invited to submit books to the Library for display in the exhibition. The Library is accepting donations of books that may hold a special meaning to visitors, or books that donors deem important for future generations.
2219: Futures Imagined is curated by the ArtScience Museum, based on an idea by poet and writer Alvin Pang, who was named Young Artist of the Year by the National Arts Council of Singapore. It is co-produced by SPACElogic, with support from curatorial advisors Annie Jael Kwan and Adriel Luis. The exhibition runs from 23rd November 2019 to 5th April 2020. Tickets are available from 1st November 2019 at all Marina Bay Sands box offices and the official website.