For Art's Sake
S’pore art: Top picks for 2014
5. I DIDN’T KNOW MANI WAS A CONCEPTUALIST by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde. One of the best experimental voices in Singapore poetry, Kon’s science fiction-meets-existentialist prose poetry collection is densely — almost brutally — packed with allusions and anyone who stays for the ride is rewarded with an immensely satisfying (and often funny) read.
6. SOUND: LATITUDES AND ATTITUDES by Institute Of Contemporary Arts Singapore / Joleen Loh and Bani Haykal (curators). Finally, a survey of Singapore’s sound art scene! As the exhibition revealed, not only is the range of practitioners wide — from theatre people to performance artists to experimental musicians — the kind of works and the approaches are also just as vast.
7. 1ST MIGRANT WORKERS POETRY COMPETITION by Shivaji Das / The Literary Centre / Banglar Kantha. A unique and much-welcome initiative that adds to the multiplicity of literary voices in Singapore, with 80 poetry submissions coming in from migrant workers — many of whom are already published authors.
8. “WHEN YOU GET CLOSER TO THE HEART, YOU MAY FIND CRACKS ...” by Lucy Davis / Migrant Ecologies Project. “It’s a show swirling with art, science and history, while subtly touching on economics, geopolitics and even the fantastical. There’s a lot happening here and if, like Davis, you stick around long enough, you may discover in all this wood, grains of truth.”
9. MEDIUM AT LARGE by Singapore Art Museum. “You can imagine the 31 pieces on display asking themselves and the viewer: What am I? It’s also one of SAM’s most playful shows in a while and examines this often-taken-for-granted descriptor in art, the “medium”. In category- and label-obsessed Singapore, we like things clear-cut and defined. A painting? A conceptual work? A sculpture? That’s where the fun begins.”
10. MONKEY GOES WEST by W!ld Rice. “It’s Broadway Beng Sebastian Tan’s directorial debut for the theatre company and he puts his undeniable “beng” stamp on playwright Alfian Sa’at’s layered interpretation of the Chinese classic novel. It’s a tale of family, friendship and belonging. But what makes this even more engaging, beyond its immediate lessons and sheer entertainment value, are other things that Alfian highlights. Achieving enlightenment and having fun — it is the same thing in Monkey Goes West.”
Honourable mentions: The Rise & Fall Of Little Voice by Pangdemonium Productions, Poor Thing by The Necessary Stage, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know by Geraldine Kang, Ten Thousand Tigers by Ho Tzu Nyen, SingPoWriMo 2014 Facebook page by Joshua Ip and company, We Are Home And Everywhere by Zai Kuning, Countershadow (Tactics In Evasion) by ICAS, Logical Progressions by Ang Song Ming, In The Deadpan Bed Pan by Tan Wee Lit, and Play Things by Michael Chiang.
BRUCE QUEK’S TOP PICKS
1. COUNTERSHADOWS (TACTICS IN EVASION) by the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore / Melanie Pocock (curator). How do you discuss the hidden — would such an examination negate its concealment or would it likewise become evasive? This group show brought together intellectually stimulating works by Jeremy Sharma, Heman Chong, Sai Hua Kuan and others in a setting which challenged conventional notions of the display of artworks in a gallery.