100 ways to enjoy art in Singapore

Singapore Art Week will feature pop-up record stores, break-dancing contests and indie DJs

Local band The Top Hat played at Gillman Barracks’ second anniversary party last September. -- PHOTO: GILLMAN BARRACKS
Local band The Top Hat played at Gillman Barracks’ second anniversary party last September. -- PHOTO: GILLMAN BARRACKS
Jennifer Lee. -- PHOTO: NIKKO LAMERE
The former SIA Sports Club, including its drained pool, will host day-to-night arts festival Super 0 Openair. -- PHOTO: SUPER 0 OPENAIR
The Good Life Project is one of the local bands performing at the Aliwal Urban Art Festival. -- PHOTO: ALIWAL ARTS CENTRE

Singapore Art Week, which returns for its third edition next week, is not just for art aficionados.

Pop-up record stores, breakdancing and skateboarding competitions, as well as after-dusk music performances by indie DJs and bands are just some of the activities that will give it broader appeal and an edge.

The annual arts fiesta, which kicks off on Jan 17, will feature about 100 events in all over nine days.

Led by the National Arts Council in partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Economic Development Board, Art Week aims to reinforce Singapore as a leading arts destination.

Anchored by premier contemporary art fair Art Stage Singapore, the event gathers players in the arts sector to launch creative art and lifestyle concepts, as well as hold events that boost the visual arts industry. It also provides another platform for home-grown talent to showcase their work alongside renowned international names.

A new addition to the calendar this year is Super 0 Openair, a day-to-night event where partygoers can groove to the music of some of the world's best indie electronic beatmakers, such as Tokimonsta from Los Angeles and Swedish music producer The Field.

To be held at the former SIA Sports Club in Turnhouse Road on Jan 17, it will also host a pop-up vinyl store by Curated Records, interactive threatre showcases by home-grown theatre groups and a series of workshops and talks organised by Red Bull Music Academy.

Over at Aliwal Arts Centre in Aliwal Street in the Kampong Glam area, urban art and street culture take centrestage with graffiti art showcases, a space for a skateboarding competition and the Red Bull Cypher In The Park, the qualifying round to pick Singaporean representatives for Red Bull BC One, an international breakdancing competition.

Called the Aliwal Urban Art Festival, the free night festival, now in its second year, will be held on Jan 17. Last year, the event drew about 3,500 people. Organisers are expecting a turnout of 4,000 this year.

Another late-night event of the Art Week is Art After Dark, an open-house event in Gillman Barracks arts cluster. The open-house night event has been held since 2012, but was named Art After Dark last November.

To be held on Jan 23, the outdoor party features performance art and live music, as well as pop-up stores offering food and drinks.

Visitors can also explore the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore's studios for artists in residence, attend talks by artists or catch a late night indie movie screening at the former army barracks.

Mr Philip Francis, 42, deputy director of sector development at the National Arts Council, says events such as Super 0 Openair, Art After Dark and Aliwal Urban Art Festival show that "art can be appreciated by anyone and everyone and such nightlife experiences allow us to create new and novel ways for audiences to appreciate art".

They make art more accessible to a wider audience, "debunking misperceptions that art needs to be encountered in a museum or gallery setting", he adds.

French expatriate Olivier Soubiele, 34, is among art and music fans who are looking forward to the more "alternative" events during Art Week.

The designer for a telecommunications firm, who plans to check out the Aliwal Urban Art Festival, says: "I like the fact that someone is doing something different from what we always find in Singapore (in terms of art).

"In Paris in summer, for example, you can find DJs playing at the museums and you can grab a beer and lie down on the grass... there are always ways for people to discover art and meet artists. Similar things are happening in London too. I want to support these things."


The Straits Times is the official media partner of Singapore Art Week

Aliwal Urban Art Festival

The Aliwal Urban Art Festival celebrates street art and culture, such as graffiti, graphic art, underground dance music and breakdancing.

The festival, which is curated by local events agency Sideshow and supported by the National Arts Council of Singapore, was conceived last year to present an alternative aspect of Singapore art.

Organisers expect to draw a crowd of 4,000 this year, up from 3,500 last year.

The event is expanding beyond Aliwal Arts Centre's premises to include the outdoor carpark opposite in Aliwal Street. The space will host the Volcom Skate Park, where a skateboarding competition will be held, and the Red Bull Cypher In The Park, the qualifying round for a breakdancing competition. The top 16 competitors will take part in the Red Bull BC One Singapore Cypher Finals in March.

Red Bull BC One is considered one of the biggest international breakdancing competitions in the world.

"Our focus on urban art in its entirety, including extreme sport and breakdance, makes us stand out from other multidisciplinary festivals," says a spokesman for the art festival.

Through the night, there will be live performances by home-grown bands such as funk acts The Mighty Mighty and The Good Life Project and percussion group Wicked Aura Batucada.

DJ sets inside the centre and in the outdoor carpark will see underground music fans grooving to the beats of local DJs such as EJ Missy, Matteblacc and Zushan.

Red Bull will set up a mobile disco, transforming a jeep into a DJ console.

Other highlights include an art installation by British artist Steve Lawler aka Mojoko, who will present Reactive Wall, a dynamic digital collage of more than 200 images taken from pop trash culture. Visitors are encourage to shout, scream and whistle in a darkened room to trigger graphic animations.

Where: Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal Street

When: Jan 17, 5pm to midnight

Admission: Free

Super 0 Openair

What started out as a series of pop-up alternative parties two years ago has evolved into an all-day boutique affair that merges art, design, music and culture.

Super 0 Openair festival, which will be held in the repurposed former SIA Sports Club in Turnhouse Road on Jan 17, will feature assorted talks and workshops as well as performances by local and international DJs.

The event, which gets its name from the idea of growing an alternative scene from ground zero, is founded by Ms Cynthia Chua, founder and chief executive of lifestyle company Spa Esprit Group; Ms Alyssa Kokilah, 33, and Mr Josaiah Chong, 31, co-founders of events and music booking firm Aligned Agency.

Super 0 highlights include performances by Swedish tech-house DJ and music producer The Field, English deep house DJ and producer Ben Pearce, and American new wave and tech-house DJ and producer Tim Sweeney.

For the first time, Super 0 is teaming up with Red Bull Music Academy, a series of travelling music workshops and festivals, which will fly in Los Angeles hip-hop electronica beatmaker Jennifer Lee, also known as Tokimonsta.

Lee will share her experience and influences as an artist and music producer with aspiring musicians, and will be one of the headline acts at Super 0.

Vinyl collectors can look forward to a pop-up record shop by Curated Records and cocktail fans can learn to distill spirits and make their own bitters at the Alchemy Garden, a herb garden and small distillation space, by Reyka Vodka and local food movement Edible Gardens.

Meanwhile, bicycle enthusiasts may enjoy the Art Of Cycle initiative, where five Tokyobikes - Tokyobike is a well-known Japanese bike brand - will be reinterpreted and designed by local creative talent.

There will also be interactive theatre performances by Singapore arts group Pangdemonium!, featuring Adrian Pang and Neo Swee Lin.

Skinned Knee Productions, another local theatre company, will stage roving performances in the form of "mini moments" from their upcoming shows Ragnarok and Mind Map Of Love, which will involve active participation from the audience.

Up-and-coming Parisian photographer David Ledoux will make his debut solo showing in Asia at Super 0 with Tropical Uncanny, a series of photographs inspired by people's holiday pictures

Ms Kokilah, co-founder and director of Super 0, says the event draws inspiration from festivals and events in European cities such as Berlin, London and Paris, that are held in unassuming places such as abandoned warehouses and carparks.

"Super 0 is an evolving platform that fleshes out novel experiences and ideas, something we believe can be done anywhere in the world as there will always be music to listen to, a new artist or exhibition to check out and new experiences to be shared," says Ms Kokilah.

One of the aims, she adds, is to create a home-grown festival that could be replicated in cities such as London, New York and Paris.

"We wanted to move away from the perception of Super 0 being just another soul-less warehouse or pop-up party and, instead, curate a dynamic lifestyle festival."

Where: 25 Turnhouse Road in Changi (former SIA Sports Club)

When: Jan 17, from 2pm

Admission: $65 for a standard ticket, $90 for a "supertrooper" VIP ticket (priority queue and access to premium toilets), from super0.eventclique.com. Limited $75 tickets at the door. Entry closes at midnight. Except for re-entry, new ticketholders will not be allowed into the venue after 11pm

Art After Dark

Last November, arts cluster Gillman Barracks began hosting a bi-monthly event called Art After Dark, where visitors can check out its galleries at night and enjoy live music, food and drinks. The art cluster has held open-house night events since 2012.

The latest edition of Art After Dark coincides with Singapore Art Week and will be held on a larger scale, featuring artist talks, site-specific performance art and live jazz music by local bands, among other things.

Besides events at the 17 galleries housed in the former military barracks, visitors can also check out the food from outlets such as Red Baron, a cafe and bar concept by the same owners of Artistry cafe in Kampong Glam, and Handlebar, a restaurant tenant at Gillman Village, the previous incarnation of Gillman Barracks. Restaurant The Naked Finn will be selling its popular lobster rolls - which are available only for lunch - at a pop-up space.

Other activities include a Singapore indie film screening with artists and musicians reworking the soundtracks of movies in live performances.

Art After Dark was conceived to cater to art enthusiasts seeking an alternative night destination in Singapore, says Ms Kow Ree Na, 37, director of the lifestyle programme office at the Singapore Economic Development Board, one of the developers of Gillman Barracks.

She says: "Each Art After Dark event will have a different art-related theme, such as books, design and music; or partner key festivals happenings in Singapore, such as Singapore Art Week."

The debut edition of Art After Dark last year saw about 1,000 visitors and organisers are expecting a turnout of at least 2,000 later this month.

Where: Gillman Barracks, 9 Lock Road

When: Jan 23, 7 to 11pm

Admission: Free

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