Staring blankly ahead, the two girls were silent as strangers touched their hair, painted their lips and stained their cheeks. Twenty minutes later, one was "prettified" with a scarf tied around her neck, while the other had a bright red Joker grin extending beyond her lips and facial hair drawn on with an eyebrow pencil.
But instead of being victims of bullying, both women were doing the opposite - raising awareness of how impossible standards of beauty are often internalised by society and inflicted on women - through the performance art piece.
Spearheaded by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), the "Pretty Ugly" exhibit was part of the one-day arts fest held at the Aliwal Arts Centre on Sunday. Called Break the Silence, it hopes to create awareness and a deeper understanding of issues relating to violence against women.
Other exhibits include "Mirror Mirror", a visual art installation of more than 30 mirrors that encouraged visitors to scrawl on a larger mirror negative labels they had received, such as "thick" or "scrawny". They were then encouraged to erase what others had written on it as an act of solidarity and a symbolic act of rejecting these labels.
Yet another exhibit, "Out of Reach", delved into taboo topics such as the female body and female sexuality through its blatant display of six items including soiled menstruation pads and pregnancy kits.
"In an advanced society like ours, we can no longer just preach but visitors have to come to their own conclusions," said Ms Corinna Lim, executive director of Aware, of the interactive exhibits.
Comprising the art exhibition, musical and theatrical performances, the arts fest was part of the We Can! Singapore campaign that took off in March this year. It is part of the global We Can! End All Violence Against Women campaign, launched in 2004, that questions gendered social attitudes and stereotypes that tolerate violence.
"These exhibits are experiential and make us think about how society is responsible for abuse of women in general," said undergraduate Nafeesa Saini, 23, who was at the exhibition.