Singapore: Inside Out showcase in Sydney in November offers art and food

The Forest Speaks Back (left) by installation artist Donna Ong (above). Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work (left) focusing on void decks to Sydney. Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017, left)
The Forest Speaks Back (above) by installation artist Donna Ong.PHOTO: COURTESY OF DONNA ONG
The Forest Speaks Back (left) by installation artist Donna Ong (above). Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work (left) focusing on void decks to Sydney. Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017, left)
The Forest Speaks Back by installation artist Donna Ong (above).PHOTO: COURTESY OF DONNA ONG
The Forest Speaks Back (left) by installation artist Donna Ong (above). Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work (left) focusing on void decks to Sydney. Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017, left)
Film-maker Kirsten Tan, who made Pop Aye (2017, above), will present her short films in Sydney.PHOTO: COURTESY OF KIRSTEN TAN, POP AYE PRODUCTION
The Forest Speaks Back (left) by installation artist Donna Ong (above). Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work (left) focusing on void decks to Sydney. Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017, left)
Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017), will present her short films in Sydney.PHOTO: COURTESY OF KIRSTEN TAN, POP AYE PRODUCTION
The Forest Speaks Back (left) by installation artist Donna Ong (above). Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work (left) focusing on void decks to Sydney. Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017, left)
Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work focusing on void decks to Sydney.PHOTO: COURTESY OF SARAH CHOO, ZARCH COLLABORATIVES

The Singapore: Inside Out showcase will feature art and collaborations by 20 Singaporean and Australian creatives.

The void deck is a ubiquitous space in Singapore, one that most people hardly pay attention to. But multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo, 27, is fascinated by the intimate moments that take place there, from "(a) father teaching his child to cycle (to two) elders engaged in an intense game of chess".

Her works have previously explored social alienation and isolation and by turning her focus to the void deck, she also seems to be searching for connections.

She says: "Behind the camera lens, I am a voyeur, watching and observing; searching for mundane and overlooked moments - perhaps a brief acknowledgement shared between my subjects and myself."

Her multimedia installation will be featured at Singapore: Inside Out (SGIO) in Sydney, which takes place from Nov 3 to 5 at various locations, including the Old Clare Hotel in Kensington Street, within the Chippendale Creative Precinct.

The showcase, themed "Movement", will feature artworks and collaborations by 20 Singaporean and Australian creatives in disciplines such as visual and performing arts, photography, design, music and food.

SGIO is a creative showcase featuring works from home-grown creative talents. Organised by Singapore Tourism Board, the event was first held in 2015 and toured Beijing, London and New York before returning to Singapore for its final stop. About 67,000 people visited the inaugural edition and its partner events in the four cities.

The current, second edition, kicked off in Tokyo from Aug 25 to 27 and was themed "HyperCity". More than 7,000 people attended SGIO and its partner events.

The Forest Speaks Back (left) by installation artist Donna Ong (above). Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo (above) will take her installation work (left) focusing on void decks to Sydney. Film-maker Kirsten Tan (above), who made Pop Aye (2017, left)
Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo will take her installation work (above) focusing on void decks to Sydney. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SARAH CHOO, ZARCH COLLABORATIVES

The Sydney show is helmed by Mr Randy Chan, principal architect at Zarch Collaboratives, while independent local art collective Vertical Submarine takes on the art director role. There will not be a Singapore leg for this season.

Mr Chan says: "It is about bringing out this diverse expression of what Singapore is. What we want is to grow that interest for people to come to Singapore to take part in that creative (sector) which they often do not know about.

"People think of Singapore as clean, safe and beautiful - we want to add on another layer to that."

SGIO is about taking Singapore to the world and, for local artists taking part, it is also a contemplation of their Singaporean identity.

Installation artist Donna Ong, 39, says: "It frames you as a Singaporean firstly to the world and, also, your work is seen together with other Singaporean artists' whose themes and concepts build up a larger picture of the issues, thoughts and values that we, as Singaporeans, embrace or struggle with."

Her work at SGIO in Sydney is a tropical forest built out of "everyday prosaic objects such as regular green vessels".

Another local creative featured is film-maker Kirsten Tan, 36, whose award-winning debut, Pop Aye (2017), was a road movie set in Thailand.

She says of her Sydney short film showcase: "When it comes to creating my own work, what I put into it is not that different, whether it's shot in Singapore or overseas.

"Of course, the tone of the image would vary since the locations and climate would be different, but the core essence would probably feel the same since it reflects my personal humanity.

"(When) I showcase my work overseas, I am invariably considered a Singaporean film-maker. Feeling quite secure about my identity, I do not feel the need to flaunt it, but neither do I feel the need to hide it at all."

Any expression of the Singapore identity would be incomplete if food was absent and, fittingly, there are several mouth-watering culinary collaborations at SGIO.

They include Singapore's Fat Lulu's and Sydney's Eastside Grill putting out a menu focused on spices and charcoal-grilled food; and dessert chefs Cheryl Koh (Tarte, Singapore) and Reynold Poernomo (KOI, Sydney) offering Singapore-inspired desserts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'Showcase of Singapore in Sydney'. Print Edition | Subscribe