Why Singapore


After undergoing explosive economic growth, Asia has discovered contemporary culture. Asian cities are becoming sites of international and intercultural exchange, of the negotiation and definition of diverse cultural identities, of a process of opening up to the world, and finally of experimentation with both the danger and potential of tradition. Just like many major Chinese, Korean, or Japanese metropolises, Singapore is a city with cultural ambition. This manifests itself in the remote city-state’s unique cocktail of state-governed social policies, global cosmopolitanism, and a liberal economic policy, which together form a great experiment with increasing influence on the tumultuous 21st century stage. “Why Singapore” is a critical examination of the city-state and its sociocultural context with a focus on its cultural ecosystem.

Just like Hong Kong, Singapore is also a former British Crown colony, though it broke away much earlier, and became an independent state. Singapore is an embodiment of pragmatism, a portrait of postcolonial agreement, and a nation created by its own will, and that exists solely as a city. The coexistence of many different cultures with their various languages and characteristics, the population size, and the importance for the city-state of both the tourism and financial sectors all allow for a close comparison to Switzerland, while perhaps also offering a glimpse of a possible future of Switzerland as urban area surrounded by mountains (instead of oceans).


The team will develop through workshops, field trips, and individual research a varied set of approaches to the cultural ecosystem of Singapore. Partner institutions like Singapore Art Stage and the ETH/Singapore will be the starting points for a mapping process of Singapore’s cultural landscape, including its most significant players and important developments. This research will help to identify how and in what way the extremely successful economic and social developments of the city-state have affected its cultural production, as well as what possible interrelations there could be between these two elements. Through dialogue with cultural workers and experts both in and outside of the region, a heterogeneous portrait of Singapore’s cultural landscape will emerge, including both its potential, and its dangers.



Students of MA Art Education and MA Transdisciplinary Studies:

  • Michelle Akanji
  • Claudio Bucher
  • Shirin Hirisiger
  • Anika Rosen
  • Eirini Sourgiadaki
  • Petra Tomljanovic


  • Michael Schindhelm, writer, culture advisor, and theater director
  • Damian Christinger, curator, East Asian art scientist, lecturer