Contemporary Art Censorship and Strategies of Resistance and Dissent in Singapore

Jeffrey Say3, Anca  Rujoiu1, Dr Seng Yu Jin2, Dr Michelle Antoinette1

1Monash University, Australia, 2National Gallery Singapore,  Singapore, 3LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore

Chair: Dr Michelle Antoinette


“Censorship is an act of violence”, writes Singapore poet and playwright Alfian Sa’at, in his censorship manifesto for artists in Singapore. Indeed, Singapore is widely known for its strict censorship regime, and the arts have been no exception to this. This panel will explore issues of censorship, resistance, and dissent as they relate to the contemporary art scene in Singapore and its intersection with civil society. While earlier political histories form a backdrop to our concerns, the panel will focus on the art and politics since the early 1990s. This includes examining state interventions in Singapore contemporary art and their implications for art practice and production, such as the crucial role of government funding; the different strategies of resistance and dissent adopted by artists which challenge political boundaries and hegemonic discourses; and the kinds of art historical narratives that are forged for Singapore in the light of art censorship or suppression. The panel draws together papers from those closely involved in researching Singapore’s contemporary art history, exhibitions, and art practice, informed by art historical and curatorially-led research.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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