'Excessive nudity' in 2 Fringe Fest shows exceeds R18 rating: IMDA

Performance lecture Naked Ladies and interactive piece Undressing Room have exceeded the R18 rating and cannot be shown here in their current form, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Nov 25.
Performance lecture Naked Ladies and interactive piece Undressing Room have exceeded the R18 rating and cannot be shown here in their current form, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Nov 25.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/M1 SINGAPORE FRINGE FESTIVAL WEBSITE

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival has to either cut or "clothe" two shows scheduled for next January.

Performance lecture Naked Ladies and interactive piece Undressing Room have exceeded the R18 rating under the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC), and cannot be shown here in their current form, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said yesterday.

An IMDA spokesman said: "The performances had excessive nudity which included scenes of audience-participants stripping naked, and graphic depictions of exposed genitalia.

"In regulating and classifying such events, IMDA is guided by the AECC to protect the young from unsuitable content, while enabling adults to make informed viewing choices."

Festival organisers can make changes to the shows and resubmit them for classification.

The organisers told The Straits Times they have conveyed IMDA's concerns to the artists involved and are awaiting their responses.

They added that the nudity in both works "was not in any way used for the purpose of titillation".

"We are disappointed that they fall beyond the current guidelines, and that they are assessed strictly for nudity than what the purpose of nudity was for the works."

But they thanked IMDA for having discussions with them "throughout the application process".

"We have also been assured by IMDA that the assessments of these two works in particular stem purely from their rigorous assessment process based on current Arts Entertainment classification guidelines, and not from any external pressure," they added.

IMDA's statement comes after complaints were posted online that the festival is presenting pornography in the guise of art.

The M1 festival is noted for its boundary-pushing fringe performances and its 13th edition will run from Jan 4 to 15 next year.

Under the theme Art & Skin, Naked Ladies is a performance by Canadian Thea Fitz-James about the naked female body in art. Undressing Room is a private encounter with Singaporean dancer Ming Poon, in which he will challenge one participant at a time to undress with him.

On Nov 22, a Facebook group called Singaporeans Defending Marriage And Family compared these shows to "solicitation for a public sex act".

It said: "Does the Government deem inviting an audience to participate in the 'show' that includes undressing and exploring each other (sic) naked body not an obscene act punishable by law?"

The festival organisers told The Straits Times that generating discussions has "always been part of the festival's mission".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2016, with the headline ''Excessive nudity' in 2 Fringe Fest shows exceeds R18 rating: IMDA'. Print Edition | Subscribe