Through a biennale, an art fair, institutional development and other initiatives, Singapore has aggressively positioned itself as a hub for contemporary art in Southeast Asia. On Sep 15 the island-state welcomed the latest addition to its growing art infrastructure, Gillman Barracks. Originally built in the 1930s to house British troops, the 6.4 hectare site is now home to 13 galleries from 10 countries as well as artist studios, residences, office space for creative industries, and restaurants. Spearheaded by Nanyang Technological University, a 2,200-sqm Centre for Contemporary Art is planned to open at the barracks by the end of 2013. The initiative has received support from diverse branches of the Singapore government, including the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Economic Development Board, the JTC Corporation and the National Arts Council. Of the 13 galleries, four are from Japan: Kaikai Kiki, Tomio Koyama, Mizuma and Ota Fine Arts. Opening exhibitions include the group show “Marcel Duchamp in Southeast Asia” organized by Equator Art Projects, the group show “Blended by Desire,” curated by Rifky Effendy for Michael Janssen Gallery, and solo shows by painters Yayoi Kusama and Zhang Enli at Ota Fine Arts and ShanghArt, respectively.
The opening of Gillman Barracks comes on the heels of the establishment of the Singapore Biennale in 2006 and the establishment of the art fair Art Stage Singapore in 2011. Singapore is also home to the Singapore Freeport, a high-security facility for storing precious commodities and collections that opened in 2010.