Pop culture-infused take on Singapore Chinese heritage

American artist Race Krehel’s projection mapping for a pagoda installation designed by Japanese artist Taketo Kobayashi.
American artist Race Krehel’s projection mapping for a pagoda installation designed by Japanese artist Taketo Kobayashi.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
The Remix festival’s urban art exhibition features modern portrayals of Chinese mythology, including Muneera Malek’s contemporary re-imagining of the moon goddess Chang’e.
The Remix festival’s urban art exhibition features modern portrayals of Chinese mythology, including Muneera Malek’s contemporary re-imagining of the moon goddess Chang’e.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
The Remix festival’s urban art exhibition features modern portrayals of Chinese mythology, including Muneera Malek’s contemporary re-imagining of the moon goddess Chang’e (above).
The Remix festival’s urban art exhibition features modern portrayals of Chinese mythology, including Muneera Malek’s contemporary re-imagining of the moon goddess Chang’e (above). ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

Youth festival Remix's weekend line-up includes street dance, craft workshops and Haw Par Villa-inspired art

Haw Par Villa's otherworldly characters and macabre scenes are the inspiration for an immersive art exhibition that offers a fresh take on Singapore Chinese culture.

Visitors to the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) can explore the exhibit along with seven other events in Remix, the centre's first festival organised for youth.

Other highlights include an urban art exhibition featuring contemporary portrayals of Chinese mythology and a getai show starring the cast of military comedy Ah Boys To Men.

Electronic music star Jasmine Sokko headlined a concert, held last night as part of the festival, which also featured artists such as Olinda Cho, Wang Weiliang, Tay Kewei and Ian Fang.

Other events this weekend include an escape game with clues based on elements of Chinese culture, as well as an art market and a street dance competition set to the beat of Mandarin songs.

Visitors can take part in workshops such as perfume mixology, coin pouch hand-stitching and bootleg toymaking - or get inked with a temporary jagua tattoo.

SCCC programmes director Lee Ee Wurn said that while the centre already has an annual cultural festival, it planned youth festival Remix to show how Chinese culture has been transformed by pop culture.

  • BOOK IT / REMIX FESTIVAL

  • WHERE: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, 1 Straits Boulevard

    WHEN: Today and tomorrow

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: singaporeccc.org.sg

For example, the festival's urban art exhibition showcases works by 20 young artists of diverse ethnicities and disciplines who re-interpret what they know of Chinese myths and legends, he said.

One such artist is Muneera Malek, 27, who has created a contemporary digital illustration of the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e.

She started to appreciate Chinese culture when she joined a Chinese dance co-curricular activity in secondary school.

"Through my art, I hope to convey the message that (mythology) can be fun too, depending on your perspective," she said.

Meanwhile, the Haw Par Villainspired installation features seven artists who fuse art and technology to create an immersive exhibition.

Among the artists are Bao Song Yu, 27, and Jake Tan, 26, who have created a kinetic art piece involving two mannequins that re-examines the concepts of love and morality.

Describing the work as a reflection of what it means to shoulder the weight of loved ones' expectations, Tan said: "A lot of values about parental love have bled into this piece."

Added Bao: "Traditionally, Haw Par Villa explores using punishment to encourage people to be good, but could it be different? Could it be innate for people to want to do good, not based on punishment?"

Haw Par Villa exhibition artist Race Krehel, 34, said his work - projection mapping for a pagoda designed by Japanese artist Taketo Kobayashi - aims to reflect the transcendent nature of Chinese culture and mythology.

"The make-up of modern Chinese culture is influenced by its ancient aspect. The pagoda will show a modern take on the vices and virtues that are depicted in Haw Par Villa," said Mr Krehel, an American who has worked in Singapore for several years.

When asked about his hopes for the exhibition, he said: "Haw Par Villa has a distinct personal meaning to people who grew up here. This is a good chance to re-interpret a place that, on a nostalgic level, means so much to so many people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'Pop culture-infused take on Singapore Chinese heritage'. Print Edition | Subscribe