Artist's characters come to life

In one of artist Speak Cryptic's show segments, performers carry umbrellas with cloth, forming cocoon-like forms.
In one of artist Speak Cryptic's show segments, performers carry umbrellas with cloth, forming cocoon-like forms.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A 100-person performance, based on local artist Speak Cryptic's drawings, is part of an arts party inspired by old Malay dance clubs

Malay dance clubs of the 1940s and 1950s may be no more, but they have been reimagined as a contemporary, immersive arts party that will be held for three nights next month at the old Kallang Airport.

The event, titled Club Malam, is part of the Singapore International Festival of the Arts' pre-festival programme, The O.P.E.N.

It will feature eight artists and artist groups from Singapore, Indonesia and Germany, who will present a heady mix of music, art and performances that unfold simultaneously over the two floors of a building in the compound.

At the entrance, 12 cement mixers, which make up the art installation Clockwork by Berlin artist Julius von Bismarck, will churn building debris.

Filling the aural space of the building will be the eclectic sounds of two-man bands Senyawa and Nada, who merge traditional ethnic music with electronic sounds.

A 100-person performance, The Tribe, will take place throughout the block as random "happenings".


  • WHERE: Old Kallang Airport, 9 Stadium Link

    WHEN: July 7 to 9, 6.30 to 11pm daily

    ADMISSION: Free with the O.P.E.N. Pass, $45 (includes all The O.P.E.N. programmes), $25 (for students and those aged 55 and above), from Sistic (go to or call 6348-5555) or $10 (limited availability) at the door

The performers will bring to life 100 characters drawn by Singapore artist Speak Cryptic, whose signature style is black-and-white drawings of masked characters. This work marks the first time he is turning his drawings into a live performance.

Ms Noorlinah Mohamed, 48, who conceived Club Malam, and is the director of The O.P.E.N, says the inspiration for the event came from her older relatives' vivid accounts of Malay night clubs that she heard growing up.

That memory, however, did not resurface until she came across the moving strains of music by Nada and Senyawa last year.

She was inspired to create her version of a club that plays "contemporary music, which transcends language barriers" and welcomes the public to "soak in the atmosphere and take in the happenings, regardless of race".

She is quick to add that Club Malam does not try to re-create old Malay clubs in Singapore, which faded away by the 1980s, but to explore new possibilities for those good old clubbing days.

For Speak Cryptic, whose real name is Farizwan Fajari, The Tribe is about individuals embracing themselves and their unique personalities. In one of the show segments, performers carry umbrellas with cloth draped over them that reaches to the floor, forming cocoon-like forms.

Farizwan, 36, says: "I often wish that I have some space for myself. I'm sure everyone has felt that way at some point in his life, so he should be able to relate to members of The Tribe."

Ms Noorlinah hopes that through Club Malam, the public will be able to encounter new possibilities for themselves on a personal level.

She says: "I want the public to enjoy the space, the beautiful site of old Kallang Airport and see it as an exciting playground filled with potential."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Artist's characters come to life'. Print Edition | Subscribe