$100,000 To Be Awarded In The Signature Art Prize; 1 Singaporean Among The Finalists

Ever wanted to see two bullets strike each other head on but never had the opportunity to?

You can head down to the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) starting Friday (25 May) to see the stunning remnants of such a spectacle.

Two bullets hitting each other head on in a block of ballistic gelatin

AK-47 vs. M16 is just one of the exhibits in the 2018 edition of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize.

A total of 15 artworks from artists across 12 countries and territories have been selected as finalists for the prize.

They come from places far and wide, including Taiwan and Kazakhstan. In fact, the 2018 edition of the triennial Signature Art Prize is the first to feature artists from Central Asia.

All 15 artworks will be displayed at NMS from 25 May to 2 September.

The prize in numbers

A total of $100,000 in prize money is at stake. Of the 15 finalists, 1 winner will take home $60,000.

2 Juror’s Choice Award recipients will get $15,000 each, while a People’s Choice Award winner will receive $10,000.

Artworks on display

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the artworks that are on display:

1. Written in the Margins by Shubigi Rao

First up, we have an interactive installation by our very own Singaporean artist, Shubigi Rao.

Centre: Rao explaining her artwork

The work centres around the destruction of books.

Video footages feature testimonies by people involved in saving books.

This includes firefighters who fought to rescue the burning national library in Sarajevo during the Yugoslavian troubles in the 1990s.

Written in the Margins is part of Rao’s ongoing project, Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book.

She has also published a book on the destruction of books.

2. Abstract Verb – Can You Remember? by Bae Young-Whan

Bae is an artist from South Korea.

In his four-channel video of feathered dancing figures, he provides a contemporary take on traditional rituals, especially of shamanistic dance moves.

3. After Paradise Lost #1 by Gede Mahendra Yasa

The painting is rendered in the Batuan style of painting developed in south Bali in the 1930s.

Everyday life is intertwined with history, with figures such as Sir Stamford Raffles (try to spot him and and Mr William Farquhar) popping up in the crowd.

Yasa also makes reference to western classics, such as the The Submission of Prince Diponegoro to General De Kock by Dutch painter Nicolas Pieneman.

He contrasts that 19th-century work with The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro by Raden Saleh, an Indonesian artist.

Yasa’s take on The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro (left) and The Submission of Prince Diponegoro to General De Kock (right)

4. AK-47 vs. M16 by The Propeller Group

This work was inspired by 2 bullets that met head-on on the battlefield during the American Civil war.

Statisticians estimate that the chances of this happening is one in a billion.

But The Propeller Group decided it would collaborate with ballistic experts to recreate the moment when 2 bullets meet.

The bullets chosen are significant: one from a Russian-invented AK-47 and the other from the US Army’s M16.

They meet in a block of ballistic gelatin, which has a similar density to the human flesh, and is commonly used for firearms testing.

Block of ballistic gelatin

The are 21 blocks in the entire body of work, representing the 21-gun salute. One of these is on display at NMS.

5. Milky Bay by Yuichiro Tamura

Against the backdrop of a seamen’s club in Yokohoma are several fragments from the sculpture of a man’s body.

Inspired by the story of Yukio Mishima, one of Japan’s most influential 20th-century writers, Milky Bay traverses much ground in great detail.

Yukio Mishima

Time is collapsed into a single room, from the time that Mishama set off on a world tour to his return several years later.

Mishama’s body building efforts also feature prominently in the work.

Time extends to our recent past, whereby 2 dismembered bodies were discovered in the sea near Yokohama.

The work also made reference to Milo of Croton, an ancient Greek wrestler.

Milo of Croton attempting to tear a tree apart. Sculpture by Edme Dumont (left). Milo of Croton being referenced in Milky Bay (right).

What unifies these fragmented references is a strong narrative tread about the beauty of the male physique.

Milky Bay is truly a complex, multifaceted piece, which you need to visit to begin to comprehend.

Your say in the People’s Choice Award

You get your say in the People’s Choice Award, which is worth $10,000.

Head over to the exhibition’s Information Counter once you’ve viewed the artworks.

You will be able to cast your vote there – as long as you do it before Wednesday (27 Jun).

The museum will reveal the winner 2 days later.

Venue: National Museum of Singapore, Exhibition Galleries, Basement Level, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm daily, last admission at 6.30pm

Admission: Free


  • English: 2:30 daily, from 4 June 
  • Mandarin: 11:30 am on Sundays, from 10 June 
  • Japanese: 10:30am from Tuesdays to Fridays, from 12 June 

Telephone: 6589 9550

More information here