SINGAPORE – Instead of heading for museums and galleries, art lovers can go to more unusual destinations for three art shows.
One of the venues for the Singapore International Photography Festival is the soon-to-be-redeveloped Peace Centre. Long-running community arts programme Both Sides, Now: Mengukir Harapan is organising its latest edition at a community hub in Bedok, while Wong Lip Chin: Stolen Moment will show at a hipster enclave in Joo Chiat.
The organisers will not only be testing how far enthusiasts will go for art, but also whether local residents will be interested.
Here is a closer look at these events and their highlights.
Singapore International Photography Festival
An empty building lot, vacant retail shops and an old school are where renowned photographers from 28 countries will display their works for the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF).
This year’s theme is Future Known As Unpredicted and festival curator John Tung, 32, says the works are also a way for the audience to “think about the future by creating links to the past”.
Peace Centre, which Tung describes as being “frozen in time”, is one of the locations for the festival. Here, he curated Placemaking At The Moment Between Times, featuring three site-specific installations, including Dark Cities by the artist Shyue Woon.
For Dark Cities, Woon captures an aspect of a multi-storey carpark – only metres away and also worth a visit – that is both seedy and arresting.
Another highlight is Nowhere Here by artists Sissi Kaplan and Sam I-shan comprising a site-specific video and photographic project in three parts. The artworks feature images of hotel rooms, street scenes and a dance performance. The works are easily missed if stickered prompts on the floor are overlooked. But Kaplan says: “Those who see will see.”
SIPF festival director Gwen Lee, 46, says: “Art is for everyone and no one too.”
The director of Deck, a photography arts institution and organiser of SIPF, adds: “If you don’t put it out there, how will you know what the audience wants?”
Commuters using the Esplanade tunnel will be able to take in the work of Chinese lens-based artist Maleonn, who is best known for his public art projects. There are also four MRT stations where photography artworks will be featured – Little India, Rochor, Bugis and Bencoolen.
At the former Singapore Chinese Girls’ School at 37 Emerald Hill is Spring Odyssey by French artist Elise Morin. This intriguing installation, a combination of several disciplines, creates an interactive virtual-reality experience. Going beyond urban boundaries, it lets the audience get close to nature via a virtual plant-cum-computer interface by stepping outside the physical world altogether.
Both Sides, Now: Mengukir Harapan
Ladies from Montfort Care – Goodlife! Bedok give a stirring performance in a collaboration with dance company P7:1SMA. Called Kembali (Return), it combines contemporary and Malay dance, and makes poignant references to end-of-life issues.
It is part of a series of events by arts-based community engagement project Both Sides, Now: Mengukir Harapan (Carving Hope). The project about living and leaving well is co-presented by Drama Box and ArtsWok Collaborative at Heartbeat@Bedok.
Based on the theme Lepaskan Sesalan (Release Your Regrets), this will be the second year running that the project focuses on the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore. Lead artist for this year’s programme Adib Kosnan, 37, who is also a theatre practioner, points out that for some in the Malay-Muslim community, end-of-life issues can be particularly difficult to deal with because of the urgency of burial rites.
“The process of grieving for us is very short,” he says.
While the organisers believe the process of making art can be transformative, they are also very clear that they are not providing a form of art therapy. The programme artistic director Kok Heng Leun, 56, explains that Both Sides, Now is a socially engaged practice that “provides a safe space for creating art”.
The four-day event will also feature performances of Adib’s Sukar (Melepaskan) – Mendakap Kenangan (Hard To Let Go – Holding On To Memories), a forum theatre piece. Moli Mohter’s Waktu (Time) will be performed by actress Suhaili Safari and deals with missing a loved one. Both are interactive performances.
There will also be an exhibition of the artworks by community participants of a workshop held over 11 sessions and helmed by artist Dahlia Osman called “of life and legacy”.
Madam Rainy, 57, who is performing in Kembali, says: “Whatever in our life that we cannot let out verbally, we can tell through our bodies in Kembali, through our movement and music.”
Where: Atrium, Heartbeat@Bedok, 11 Bedok North Street 1
When: Till Saturday. For performance times, go to str.sg/wKv2
Wong Lip Chin: Stolen Moment
Located in the picturesque neighbourhood of Joo Chiat is an exhibition of 10 never-seen-before paintings by artist Wong Lip Chin.
Organised by Yeo Workshop art gallery in partnership with Crane Joo Chiat, Stolen Moment is part of an effort to engage with a local neighbourhood in a more informal setting.
“Here we have the opportunity to meet a neighbourhood of people that can create new interactions and other possibilities for the future of the art scene in Singapore,” says Yeo Workshop founder Audrey Yeo, 40.
The exhibition is on the second level of Crane Joo Chiat that is usually a members-only space for co-working, private functions and events. Stolen Moment, however, is open to the public. Just make your way through the stylish cafe on the ground floor and go up a flight of stairs at the back to find Wong’s large, colourful paintings, characterised by comic book-like figures.
Wong’s work is also about anxiety – arising from his career choice of being an artist. On why he wants to engage the public at Crane, Wong says: “Art is not selfish or discriminatory, it is generous and forgiving – or at least I believe it ought to be.”
Where: Level 2 Crane Joo Chiat, 285 Joo Chiat Road
When: Till Dec 1, 9am to 7pm daily