Suzann Victor is a Singapore-born Sydney-based contemporary artist best known for prospecting the contours of human sensorial experience, perception and phenomena by mining materials from the body, the natural elements of light, water and sound to the science of physics in conjunction with engineered components and the readymade. Through intimate performances or large-scale installations, public artworks or endeavours of collective labour, Victor interrogates the significance of sites, spaces and architecture to transform them into immersive environments that draw awareness to the viewer’s own body as an investigative tool for apprehending the world at large.
A leading figure in Singapore’s contemporary-art scene, she was the first female artist to represent Singapore at the Venice Biennale and the concept developer of 5th Passage, the country’s first artist-run feminist art space that generated new art audiences for contemporary art in the early 90’s. Victor’s socio-political works are recognised for their critical engagement with the cultural aftermath of postcolonialism in Southeast Asia, female disembodiment and the inversion of the abject. On environmental concerns, Victor’s interest in manifesting “objectless art” saw her customisation of green technology to cause double rainbow arcs to appear within the museum’s rotunda at the 4th Singapore Biennale. Its methodological precursor, the Rich Manoeuvre series, occurred as a mid-air calligraphy of twelve live ephemeral drawings rendered by lights from swaying chandelier-pendulums, captivating audiences physiologically and psychologically at multiple international venues. This conflation of dynamic image, sumptuous materiality, movement, and multi-tiered concepts epitomizes Victor’s oeuvre.
At STPI, Suzann Victor staged printmaking as more than an ocular experience by achieving innovations in the making as much as the presenting of new works. Beyond mere receiving surfaces for mark-making, Victor re-deployed paper as a liquid medium of pigmented pulp for painting onto circular discs, interlocking them into a generative architecture she designed (WeCloud and Immaculate iterations) to re- present the thinnest light-conducting layers of paper into a multi-dimensional presence in the first of two solo shows at STPI in 2015. Her highly gestural acid- paintings (aquatint etchings) were noted as the largest ever attempted at STPI while her Decollage series were ground-breaking for its bodily-immersive performance. Shifting from the ocular to the auditory, Victor conspired with STPI’s architecture for the internationally-linked Galleries-Curate RHE project in 2021 to turn its main space and left wing into resonant chambers for a musical “de-arrangement” where the audience’s performance is integral to the making of the work live onsite in sound and as sound, each a unique sonic event.
Victor’s works have been commissioned for presentation beyond Venice in notable exhibitions including the 6th Havana Biennale, 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, the 6th Gwangju Biennale, and the 4th Singapore Biennale, and Thermocline of Art at ZKM Center of Art and Media (Karlsruhe, Germany). She was also singled out from the Sunshower Exhibition (Tokyo, 2017) to be honoured by the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum with a special artist residency. Her 1998 performance, Still Waters, became the theme of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival in 2019. Her works reside in the collections of numerous public and private collections worldwide.