For Art's Sake

S’pore art: Top picks for 2014

S’pore art: Top picks for 2014
TheatreWorks' Retrospective. Photo: Memphis West Pictures.
Published: 12:17 PM, December 23, 2014
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SINGAPORE — It’s that time of the year again. Year-end picks from yours truly and regular TODAY contributor Bruce Quek.

We’ve whittled down our respective lists, with Bruce concentrating on the visual arts and The RAT scurrying across disciplines. On my part, I’ve focused on the homegrown, even as I acknowledge that a bunch of international productions and exhibitions could’ve easily been jostled given the rest a run for their money.

Top of my head, the Singapore International Festival Of Arts was simply amazing, with Mystery Magnet, The Chorus; Oedipus, Peter Pan, Give Me Your Blood And I Will Give You Freedom. There was Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at da:ns Festival. Exhibitions-wise, you had the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize at SAM, Zanele Muholi’s gritty Faces And Phases at SIFA’s The OPEN showcase, and the Chinese contemporary photography show Flux Realities by the Singapore International Photography Festival and ArtScience Museum, all of which were pretty good shows.

In any case, read on. They’re in no particular order.

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MAYO MARTIN’S TOP PICKS

1. RETROSPECTIVE by TheatreWorks. “French choreographer Xavier Le Roy’s dance performance-cum-installation, in collaboration with 13 local dance and physical theatre practitioners, was a playful game, an endurance marathon, a leisurely experience, a full-on confessional and perhaps a bit of ego-tripping, too. A fine testament to the idea that art ultimately lives on and finds direct connections through people who actively engage with it.”

2. ORGANISED CHAOS by THE Dance Company. “From harmonies to harmonicas, the constant babbling, counting, panting — sometimes manipulated and enlarged as reverberation, loop and echo — the voice becomes an extension of the body’s performance and sound acquires a very palpable physicality... Here was neurosis manifested.”

3. NO STAR ARTS GRANT by Eng Kai Er. “If you ask me, No Star Arts Grant is such a rich project (no pun intended). It brings up issues regarding private philanthropy, even though she has categorically stated she wasn’t motivated by that but by “anger and sadness”. For dancers, the body is central and here you could also read Eng’s as (dramatically speaking) caught between two forces, whether it’s Science and Art, Bondage (no pun intended again) and Freedom, et cetera.”

4. ROOTS by The Finger Players. “I can clearly see why it had people raving (when it was first staged in 2012) — writer-actor-director Oliver Chong’s monologue is a masterful piece of storytelling. It says something about the artist’s skill when one is completely immersed in a story that seems commonplace plot-wise, to the point you hardly noticed the time.”

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