Ghost stories, silent disco at #BuySingLit

This year's event promoting Singapore literature at Pasir Panjang Power Station will also feature an art installation

Modern Resonance II is a site-specific work staged by sound artist Li-Chuan Chong, spoken word poet Deborah Emmanuel (left) and visual artist Alecia Neo
Modern Resonance II is a site-specific work staged by sound artist Li-Chuan Chong, spoken word poet Deborah Emmanuel (above) and visual artist Alecia Neo PHOTO: ALECIA NEO

The #BuySingLit movement powers up in its fourth year at Pasir Panjang Power Station, whose echoing halls will be filled with ghost stories, an art installation and a silent disco.

The annual industry-led movement, which aims to promote Singapore literature, will run over two weekends this year - from March 6 to 8 and March 13 to 15.

It will feature more than 60 programmes islandwide, said organisers during a launch at Bukit Pasoh bookshop Grassroots Book Room yesterday.

The decommissioned Pasir Panjang Power Station, a historic red-brick building which dates back to the 1950s, will come to life on March 6 and 7.

Modern Resonance II, a work by visual artist Alecia Neo, sound artist Li-Chuan Chong and spoken word poet Deborah Emmanuel, will illuminate the space with about 100 lightbulbs, as well as the stories of former power plant workers and their families, based on oral histories the artists collected.

The work was first initiated by the Goethe-Institut Singapore last September.

Chong, 45, says: "We wanted to recreate the sense of heat and noise that would have filled this place in the past and also look at the many meanings of 'power' - a loaded term."

Literary non-profit group Sing Lit Station is holding a silent disco featuring local literary works, such as Isa Kamari's Malay-language story Anggerik (The Orchid), that have been set to tunes by homegrown music acts such as .gif, Fauxe and Mantravine.

Cake Theatrical Productions weaves together words from novels such as Nuraliah Norasid's The Gatekeeper (2017), Sharlene Teo's Ponti (2018) and Lee Jing-Jing's How We Disappeared (2019) into Glorious, Monstrous, Hantu Tales From Singapore, an eerie performance directed by Natalie Hennedige.

Owner of bookstore BooksActually Kenny Leck, 41, who sits on #BuySingLit's working committee, says he aims to draw 4,500 visitors over two days at the old power station.

"This is about turning SingLit into a user experience," he says. "We don't just want to tell you to come buy books and hear people discuss them. We also want to do different things that will appeal to different people."

Other #BuySingLit events elsewhere include the second edition of the Pesta Buku Melayu Singapura (Singapore Malay Book Fair) at Wisma Geylang Serai and GoToRoYo at the Canopy Park in Jewel Changi Airport, in which local theatremakers from UP Collective bring to life children's books such as Where's Grandma? by Edmund Lim and The Snail Who Didn't Want His Shell by Ramanathan Ramachandran.

Last year, about 45,000 participants attended #BuySingLit.

According to a survey by the National Arts Council, which provides funding support to the movement, 74 per cent of respondents expressed a higher level of interest in local literature after attending a #BuySingLit event.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2020, with the headline Ghost stories, silent disco at #BuySingLit. Subscribe