State Of The Arts
Photographs courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board
T.H.E Dance Company
For SG:IO, Lee Mun Wai, founding member of T.H.E, has choreographed a dance titled Permission to Speak, Sir, a performance that debunks the superlative myths Singapore is known for, while presenting the often-overlooked complexities of Singaporean society.
Chang Yong Ter
Designed as a space to be simultaneously “in and out”, Taman Singapura envisions Singapore as more than a tropical Garden City and juxtaposes steel reinforcement bars with tensile, translucent fabric.
Stolen’s founding designer Elyn Wong conceived Beings of the Garment in response to the concept of SG:IO, playing with modular garments made of translucent fabrics. When displayed, they have a life of their own. When worn during Permission to Speak, Sir, they take on the personality of the individual dancers.
Singapore’s music and visual collective Syndicate brought together a line-up of talents at the forefront of music-making and experimentation. The New York session features Octover, NADA, and Brandon Tay, with DJs Kiat and Cherry, and rapper Nocando (Los Angeles) of Low End Theory and Hellfyre Club Records closing the evening.
PHUNK’s visual signature seamlessly blends and reinterprets diverse influences like traditional Chinese craft, philosophy and folklore, Japanese manga and otaku subculture into a singular creative thought that reflects a multi-cultural identity. True to its signature style, PHUNK presents D.R.E.A.M.—a large-scale illustrated mural that is an extension of a series of artworks based on New Dreams of an Old World, first created for the Fukuoka Triennale 2014 at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.
Vertical Submarine’s installation at SG:IO, A Pier is a Half-Hearted Bridge, is based on the Empty Fort Strategy, one of the Thirty-six Stratagems from ancient Chinese literature, and takes audiences through a contemplative labyrinth of mirrored realities and diverse possibilities, where everyday items and familiar experiences become estranged.
Based on three principal movements, Brandon’s façade installation Typology and its interaction with the responsive lighting in the structure creates a visualization of Singapore’s digital footprint while addressing contemporary components of the nation and presenting them as a cohesive, abstracted survey of place, identity, and nationhood.
Janice consistently achieves her goal of changing people’s perceptions of pastry and food art, by constantly pushing and blurring the boundaries of food and how people interact with it—as with her presentation for SG:IO. Consisting of an edible chocolate lollipop ceiling and gumdrop-covered walls, 1000 Crosses reflects Singapore’s uniqueness as a melting pot of flavors borne of a multicultural heritage.
Kinetic has won over 300 industry awards including D&AD and Cannes Lions. For SG:IO, the agency presents Bank of Kinetic, a repository of works from 50 creative studios in Singapore, showcasing all the design treasures collected. Transformed to look like a library, with wood-panelled walls throughout and shelves of modular configurations, this diverse showcase will display a multitude of creative styles and approaches, providing a rich landscape of traditional and experimental media.
Alvin Pang, poet, writer, editor and anthologist, won Singapore’s Young Artist of the Year for Literature in 2005. A fellow of the Iowa International Writing Program, his work has been translated into 15 languages and featured in major publications, productions and festivals around the world. Alvin’s 100 Titles is a sampling of the contemporary publishing and literary scene in Singapore, reflecting the dynamism and global relevance of the country’s literary community.
Inspired by the visual language prevalent within the cultures of comics and underground music, Speak Cryptic’s works deal primarily with issues pertaining to the human condition. For SG:IO, he presents Karma Kamillion, an interactive exhibition using the premise of a bedroom to explore the ideas of personal identities and spaces, and public influences. Starting with an enclosed white space, he first paints outlines of items inspired by his bedroom in black, then the audience is invited to make their own additions in coloured paint.
Supermama works with art and design studios in Singapore and traditional craftmen in Japan to produce contemporary giftware that represents Singapore’s unique culture. Continuing its signature blurring of lines between cultural artefacts, everyday objects, and the concept of basic luxury, Little Red Dot is an exhibition of 50 porcelain vessels, each designed by a local creative with reference to archival content from the National Archives of Singapore, in an attempt to pique the interest of viewers to dig into their roots and question their beginnings.
Headed by Elizabeth Lim and Mark Wong, Ujikaji (“experiment” in Malay) Records is an independent music label and organiser of DIY music events specialising in the curation of experimental music, with a focus on South East Asian artists and sounds. Ujikaji Records presents Music Rooms, three intimate spaces at SG:IO, designed to introduce audiences to music that represents the voice and heartbeat of Singapore today, often speaking directly or indirectly of Singaporeans’ concerns, through a combination of fresh new tunes as well as gems from the past.
Ho Tzu Nyen
Using the media of film, video and performance theatre to explore his interests in philosophy and history, Ho’s work has been showcased locally and internationally in museums such as the Guggenheim, galleries, film and performing arts festivals, including Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. His experimental film EARTH will be screened at SG:IO. Set on the site of an unknown disaster, 50 humans oscillate between consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death, forming one giant organism that breathes in unison through its journey across Earth.
Jason’s creations span fields as varied as ceramics, photography, video art, installation art and performance art. Drawing on an earlier series of works involving candles, Jason presents Inside/Outside, an installation piece where candles and flames transform a clean space into one that becomes muted by soot as a record of the passing of time. It is an attempt “to encourage the audience to slow down, and reflect on how our hectic daily lives have affected our patience, our way of observing others and ourselves, and how we have become dependent on quick answers instead of deriving meanings for ourselves”.
Singapore-based furniture designer Nathan Yong runs an eponymous multi-disciplinary design consultancy practice, which specialises in work spanning industrial, graphic and interior design, to strategic planning in product development and manufacturing processes, as well as branding. His philosophy of keeping things simple has translated into two works for the showcase—Flow, a bench inspired by the fluidity of organic shapes using plywood; and The Lightness, a six-metre-long feather sculpture perched on the scaffolding structure that symbolises the coming of age of creatives in Singapore, and how they have taken flight with newfound confidence.
Tan Kheng Hua
A household name in Singapore, Tan Kheng Hua is an award-winning actress and producer who has acted in more than 50 local theatre productions and numerous television shows, from sitcoms to dramas. In 2014, she landed the lead role of Empress Dowager in Marco Polo (The Weinstein Company’s TV series), and led a group of over 60 artists in a project entitled The Sin-Pen Colony to Penang’s The Georgetown Festival, in a celebration of Singapore and Penang’s shared heritage in food, visual art, music, theatre and design.
A playwright, director and performer, Joel Tan is involved in myriad creations that transcend genres, styles and theatre-making cultures, including poetry, contemporary drama, and dance and musical theatre. In addition, he works with young theatre groups, as well as on arts festivals like the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2014 and the M1 Fringe Festival 2015, while also penning creative essays and non-fiction for the likes of Esquire Singapore.
Read more in The U Press N˚1 (New York and London editions).