Art Talk

Singapore Biennale 2016
By Liew Kian Yap

Pannaphan Yodmanee wins 11th Benesse Prize
Zulkifle Mahmod awarded Soichiro Fukutake Prize
Singapore, Naoshima, 12 January 2017
Benesse Holdings, Inc. (Benesse) and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) are pleased to announce that the 11th Benesse Prize, selected from participating artists of the Singapore Biennale 2016, was awarded to Ms. Pannaphan Yodmanee from Thailand. Ms. Yodmanee will be commissioned to create a work to be exhibited at Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Japan, in addition to receiving a cash prize of JPY 3,000,000 (including a visit to Benesse Art Site Naoshima) from Benesse. Mr. Zulkifle Mahmod from Singapore was also announced as the recipient of the Soichiro Fukutake Prize – a special award presented on the occasion of the inaugural Asian edition of the Benesse Prize.
The jury who was responsible for the shortlist selection praised the quality and diversity of the artistic discourses presented at Singapore Biennale 2016, a testimony to the vibrancy and depth of field of artistic production throughout the Asian continent. Commenting on Ms.  Yodmanee’s nomination, Ms. Akiko Miki, as chair of the jury said: “Her painterly, sculptural and architectural work creates a unique, breathtaking landscape by mixing microscopic and macroscopic visions with
Buddhist cosmology, traditional and modern techniques, and natural and artificial materials. We look forward to seeing how her critical sensibility could provide profound insights about human civilization, natural conditions, and spirituality in our contemporary age in the insular context of the Seto Inland Sea.”
Mr. Soichiro Fukutake, Founder and President, Benesse Art Site Naoshima commented on his decision to award Mr. Mahmod with a special prize: “I was deeply impressed by this particular work, skilfully incorporating voices and sounds collected from Asian migrant communities in contemporary Singapore. It is contemplative, triggering sensorial and poetic reflections on various social territories and the human environment, as well as on our lives.” The prize entitles Mr. Mahmod to a visit to Naoshima and the neighbouring islands.
The Benesse Prize, awarded since 1995 at the Venice Biennale, celebrates artists whose practices embody an experimental and critical spirit, and for their potential to develop a reflection around the theme of “Benesse” (Well-Being). After ten momentous iterations in Venice, the Prize moved to Asia in 2016, with the aim of strengthening ties with the continent in which Benesse is rooted and acknowledging the changes in the circumstances and environment defining contemporary art production today. The 11th Benesse Prize is presented in collaboration with SAM, the organizer of Singapore Biennale 2016 and was open to all artists participating in the Biennale. The artists shortlisted for the 11th Benesse Prize were: Martha Atienza (Philippines); Bui Cong Khanh (Vietnam); Ade Darmawan (Indonesia); Qiu Zhijie (China); and Pannaphan Yodmanee (Thailand).
The members of the 11th Benesse Prize jury are: Luckana Kunavichayanont, Director, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre; Dr. Susie Lingham, Creative Director, Singapore Biennale 2016; Akiko Miki, International Artistic Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima  and Co-Director, Yokohama Triennale 2017; Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum; and Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director, M+. 

For more information, please contact:
Benesse Art Site Naoshima                                                         Melody Boh
Press office                                                                                  Phish Communications                                      
About the Benesse Prize
The  Benesse  Prize  was  established  in  1995  on  the  occasion  of  the  TransCulture  exhibition, organized  by  Japan  Foundation  and  the  FukutakeScience  and  Culture  Foundation  (since  2012, Fukutake Foundation) with the sponsorship of Benesse Corporation and under the patronage of the 46th  Venice  Biennale.  The  Benesse  Prize  at  the  Venice  Biennale  was  inspired  by  the  idea  of creating a link between Venice and Naoshima, two very different places that are united by a similar environment,  being  both  surrounded  by  water  and  aiming  to  promote  visual  arts  connecting  local and global contexts.
Two decades after its inaugural edition, the Prize now moves to Asia, with the aim of strengthening ties  with  the  continent  in  which  Benesse  is  rooted,  and  acknowledging  the  drastic  changes  in  the circumstances and environment defining contemporary art production today.
Past Benesse Prize Winners(awarded at the 46th to 55th editions of the Venice Biennale)
1st Benesse Prize (1995):             
2nd Benesse Prize (1997):           
3rd Benesse Prize (1999):              
4th Benesse Prize (2001):              
5th Benesse Prize (2003):              
6th Benesse Prize (2005):              
7th Benesse Prize (2007):              
8th Benesse Prize (2009):              
9th Benesse Prize (2011):              
10th Benesse Prize (2013): 
Cai Guo-Qiang (China)
Alexandros Psychoulis (Greece)*
Olafur Eliasson (Iceland / Denmark)
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller (Canada)
Rirkrit Tiravanija (Thailand)
Tacita Dean (UK)
Adel Abdessemed (France, Algeria)
Hans-Peter Feldmann (Germany)
Adrian Villar Rojas (Argentine)
Anri Sala (Albania, France)

*selected by the Venice Biennale official jury
About Benesse Art Site Naoshima
Benesse Art Site Naoshima is the collective name for all art-related activities conducted by Benesse Holdings,  Inc.  and  Fukutake  Foundation  on  the  islands  of  Naoshima  and  Teshima  in  Kagawa Prefecture  and  on  Inujima  island  in  Okayama  Prefecture.  Our  fundamental  aim  is  to  create significant  spaces  by  bringing  contemporary  art  and  architecture  in  resonance  with  the  pristine nature  of  the  Seto  Inland  Sea,  a  landscape  with  a  rich  cultural  and  historical  fabric.  Through contacts  with  art  and  nature,  sceneries  and  inhabitants of  the  Seto  Inland  Sea  region,  we  seek  to inspire  visitors  to  reflect  on  the  meaning  of  Benesse's  motto -Well-Being.  In  all  our  ongoing activities,  we  are  committed  to  foster  a  relationship  of  mutual  growth  between  art  and  the  region, aiming to make a positive contribution to the local communities.   To learn more, visit
About Benesse Holdings, Inc. Guided  by  the  corporate  philosophy,  "Benesse  =  Well-Being",  the  Benesse  Group  conducts business   in   the   fields   of   education,  language/global   leadership   training,   lifestyles,   and senior/nursing  care,  helping  every  customer  to  nurture  their  desire  to  learn  and  to  solve  problems throughout  their  lives.  Group  companies  include  Benesse  Corporation  which  runs Shinkenzemi:correspondence  courses  for  children  from  preschool  to  high-school  ages,  Shinken  Simulated Exams and student pocketbooks;Benesse Style Care Co., Ltd.,Japan’s leading operator of senior and nursing homes; and Berlitz, the world’s largest language school. To learn more, visit
About the Singapore Biennale 
The  Singapore  Biennale  was  established  in  2006  as  the  country’s  pre-eminent  platform  for international dialogue in contemporary art. It places Singapore’s artists within a global context, and fosters  productive  collaborations  with  the  international  arts  community.  In  this  way,  the  Biennale provides  new  opportunities  for  local  visual  artists,  arts  organisations  and  businesses.  It  further cultivates deeper public engagement with contemporary visual arts through a four-month exhibition, and its accompanying public engagement and education programmes that include artist and curator talks  and  tours,  as  well  as  school  visits  and  workshops.  It  complements  achievements  in  other areas of arts and culture, collectively enhancing Singapore’s international profile as a vibrant city in which  to  live,  work  and  play.  The  2006  and  2008  editions  of  the  Biennale  were  organised  by  the National  Arts  Council.  As  with  the  2011  and  2013  editions,  Singapore  Biennale  2016  is  organised by the Singapore Art Museum, and supported by theNational Arts Council. To learn more, visit
About the Singapore Art Museum
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is a contemporary art museum which focuses on art-making and art  thinking  in  Singapore,  Southeast  Asia  and  Asia,  encompassing  a  worldwide  perspective  on contemporary art practice. SAM advocates and makes accessible interdisciplinary contemporary art through research-led and evolving curatorial practice.  Since it opened in January 1996, SAM has built up one of the most important collections of contemporary art from the region. It seeks to seed and   nourish   a   stimulating   and   creative   space   in   Singapore  through   exhibitions  and   public programmes,  and  to  deepen  every  visitor’s  experience.  These  include  outreach  and  education, research and publications, as well as cross-disciplinary residencies and exchanges.
SAM occupies two buildings: the old St Joseph’s Institution on Bras Basah Road, built in 1855 and now  a  National  Monument;  and  SAM  at  8Q,  a  conservation  building  across  the  road  on  Queen Street that was the old Catholic High.

In 2011, SAM was the venue organiser of the Singapore Biennale, becoming the main organiser in 2013 and 2016. SAM was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee on 13 November 2013, operating under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. To learn more, visit 

About the National Arts Council, Singapore
The  National  Arts  Council  champions  the  arts  in  Singapore.  By  nurturing  creative  excellence  and supporting  broad  audience  engagement,  we  want  to  develop  a  distinctive  global  city  for  the  arts. With  a  nod  to  tradition  and  an  eye  to  the  future,  we  cultivate accomplished  artists  and  vibrant companies.  Our  support  for  the  arts  is  comprehensive –from  grants  and  partnerships  to  industry facilitation  and  arts  housing.  The  Council  welcomes  greater  private  and  corporate  giving  to  and through the arts so that together we can make the arts an integral part of everyone's lives. For more information on the Council's mission and plans, please visit

Annex 1: Pannaphan Yodmanee –winner of 11thBenesse Prize

Pannaphan Yodmanee(b.  1988, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand) examines the relevance of Buddhist philosophy to our lives. Utilising a combination of raw, natural materials with found objects of contemporary origin, her works imbue the painted designs and motifs endemic to traditional Thai art with the universal and persistent themes of loss, suffering, devastation, and the karmic cycles of death and rebirth.  Her  accolades  include  top  prizes  in  the  Thai  Traditional  Painting Awards  (2013),  as  well  as  the  Young  Thai  Artist  Awards  (2006–2007).  In  2015, her  works  were  showcased  at  the  Thailand  Eye  exhibition  presented  at  the Saatchi  Gallery,  London  and  later  at  the  Bangkok  Art  and  Culture  Centre.  She lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand

Artist statement:

«Thecrisis  in  this  world  is  the  truth  of  natural phenomena,  the  uncontrollable  changes  that  have caused  fear,  pressure  and  sorrow,  leading  humankind  to  rely  on  religion.  My  understanding  of Buddhist cosmology and comparing it with science has enriched my imagination, with regards to the crisis  of  time, loss,  devastation  and  finally  the  end.  In  my  work,  I  express  these ideas  with  natural and new materials, drawing on both contemporary and Thai traditional art. »

Annex 2: Zulkifle Mahmod –winner ofSoichiro Fukutake Prize

Zulkifle Mahmod (b. 1975, Singapore) is a sound and media artist who adopts a multidisciplinary   and   multi-genre   approach   that   includes   drawings,   prints, sculptures   and   the   readymade.   He   has   exhibited   in   Singapore,   Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Germany, Italy, Russia and Norway. He represented Singapore at the Ogaki Biennale (Japan, 2006) and Venice Biennale (2007).  In 2010, he won the Straits Times Life! Theatre  Award  for  best  sound design (Singapore) and in 2015, his work was featured in ‘Singapore: Inside Out’, a  travelling  showcase  of  Singapore  art  which  was  presented  in  Beijing,  London, New York and Singapore. He lives and works in Singapore.

Artist statement

«SONICreflection  is  a  sound  installation  that  explores  and  investigates  sonic  territories  and  sonic tensions  in  Singapore.  As  a  melting  pot,  the  city  has  attracted  a  lot  of  migration.  Many  Southeast Asian  migrant  communities  have  set  up  their  little  ‘towns'  in  Singapore:  Little  Thailand,  Little Myanmar, Little Vietnam, Little Philippines, and so forth. Each towns is distinctive in terms of culture, food and sonic characteristics, which also create the sonic territories of each space.»

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely the current opinions of the author and should not be construed to reflect the opinions, policies or positions of any entity other than the author's.