More than 100 events at Singapore Art Week

The block-stacking sculpture, Progress: The Game Of Leaders (above); and the art film, 5 Rehearsals For A Wedding (below).
The block-stacking sculpture, Progress: The Game Of Leaders (above).PHOTO: SARAH WALKER & MELBOURNE FESTIVAL

A Jenga-inspired interactive sculpture is among more than 100 events lined up for next year's Singapore Art Week

A roughly 1.5m-tall interactive sculpture, resembling a larger-than-life Jenga set, is one of the highlights at the next Singapore Art Week, which runs from Jan 17 to 28.

The visual arts extravaganza features more than 100 events transforming museums and public spaces around the island.

It is organised by the National Arts Council, Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Economic Development Board.

The block-stacking sculpture titled Progress: The Game Of Leaders, by urban artist Samantha Lo, is a metaphor for First World politics. It will be at The Arts House from Jan 22 to 28.

Lo, also known as "Sticker Lady", made headlines in 2012 for pasting stickers with slogans around Singapore. She first presented this work at the Melbourne Festival this year.

Based on the popular game Jenga, players stack or remove 72 balsa-wood blocks representing elements of First World nations, such as "increasing globalisation" or "military spending". The idea is to make the tower as tall as possible.

Lo, 31, hopes players will put themselves in the shoes of world leaders and note that progress comes with compromise.

"When we first played it in Australia, people were choosing socially conscious, morally right blocks and trying to avoid the 'military' blocks. But you couldn't avoid it," she said. "When people play the game, I want them to see we are all the same. We make unpopular decisions because they seem the best at the time."

 The Game Of Leaders (above); and the art film, 5 Rehearsals For A Wedding (below).
The art film, 5 Rehearsals For A Wedding. PHOTO: KRAY CHEN

Giant outdoor murals and projections, film screenings, art walks and performances have also been programmed in this sixth edition of the annual Singapore Art Week.

Art enclave Gillman Barracks will hold its popular Art After Dark party on Jan 26 and also launch a new art trail, Disini, with site-specific sculptures, murals and performances which run till September next year.

Other events include Artwalk Little India - tours, art installations and storytelling performances organised by students from Lasalle College of the Arts - and film-based works from visual artist Kray Chen and theatre practitioner Irfan Kasban.

Irfan, 29, is working with the Asian Film Archive to stage a live recreation of a lost 1947 film, Singapura Di Waktu Malam (Singapore At Night). His work is part of State Of Motion 2018: Sejarahku, the archive's celebration of Malay-language films produced by the former Shaw Malay Film Productions. State Of Motion includes screenings and tours to film locations.

Chen, 30, offers a playful take on Chinese wedding customs in the art film, 5 Rehearsals For A Wedding, showcased at Objectifs: Centre For Photography And Film from Jan 17 to Feb 11.

The bachelor says: "What you're watching is not a wedding. It's about this person in a way negotiating with himself and coming of age. It's looking at my own possible future."

Giving young artists space to develop is a hallmark of Singapore Art Week, said Ms Linda de Mello, the council's director, sector development (visual arts). Speaking at a press briefing at the National Gallery Singapore yesterday, she added that the goal of Singapore Art Week is to increase audiences for, and appreciation of, the visual arts in Singapore.

The marquee event next year is a second edition of the Light To Night Festival, held from Jan 19 to 28. The festival includes Art Skins On Monuments, an outdoor art trail through eight locations in the Civic District. Buildings in these spots, such as the Asian Civilisations Museum, National Gallery Singapore, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, will have their facades transformed by projections created by 30 local artists and designers.

New indoor artworks have also been commissioned for the National Gallery Singapore, as well as a new showcase of work from Buenos Aires-born Rirkrit Tiravanija on the gallery's Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Gallery.

Singapore Art Week sprung up around Art Stage Singapore, the art fair founded and helmed by Swiss national Lorenzo Rudolf, who turned the Art Basel fair into a major event.

Next year's Art Stage Singapore runs from Jan 26 to 28 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. It will focus on Thai artists, following a trend of highlighting different South-east Asian nations over the years.

Mr Low Eng Teong, assistant chief executive officer of the arts council, said that visitorship at this year's Singapore Art Week was 180,000, not including attendance at Art Stage Singapore.

When about 1,000 visitors were interviewed by the council, 70 per cent were first-time visitors at Singapore Art Week and about 25 per cent had visited the edition last year.

He added: "We hope people will migrate from looking at art to wanting to go for a one-hour talk on art and then maybe supporting the arts. It's a long process."

• Go to www.artweek.sg for the full listing of programmes for Singapore Art Week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Blocks party at art week'. Print Edition | Subscribe