Time Out Singapore: ‘Fluid’ Preview

Locally-based Chinese playwright and director Liu Xiaoyi’s latest work hopes to challenge notions of theatre. Gwen Pew finds out more.

Liu Xiaoyi

1 Jul 2014: Liu Xiaoyi could have left Singapore for good and lived the life of a proud inn owner in Yunnan, China. But fortunately for us, after spending a couple of years entertaining visitors at a refurbished five-bedroom guesthouse he bought with his wife in the idyllic town of Dali, he came back. ‘I missed Singapore too much,’ he grins. Besides, he knew in his heart that he was destined to work in theatre. ‘Dali is too serene. I tried to do a bit of theatre there, but it’s so peaceful and nice that it was hard to get people to do anything!’

Born and bred in Guangdong, China (in the city of Jieyang), Liu first came to Singapore in 1998 when he won a scholarship at Anglican High School. He didn’t grow up with theatre, and indeed, his discovery of the art was almost accidental; it all started with a job ad he saw in Lianhe Zaobao when he was pursuing a degree in Engineering at Temasek Polytechnic in the early 2000s. It was posted by The Theatre Practice (TTP) – the Chinese production company founded by Kuo Pao Kun in 1965, and now helmed by his daughter, Kuo Jian Hong – and he wrote in.

‘No news,’ he says, shaking his head a little. He forgot about it, but a couple years later, he got a call from Kuo. Following a few rounds of interviews and auditions, he ended up starring as a crow in their 2002 production of Animal Farm, and that was the start of his professional theatrical career.

In the decade since then, the 30-yearold has risen to become one of the best Chinese playwrights in town, and is now the multi-talented director of TTP’s Practice Lab, a series of courses for budding playwrights, actors, directors and reviewers. Last seen in the sold-out production of Art in this year’s Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts, he’s back this month to write and direct Fluid, a play presented as part of The Theatre Practice’s M1 Chinese Theatre Festival that essentially questions what theatre is. ‘My original idea was to put two performers onstage and have them talk without directly talking to each other,’ he explains. ‘Many people think that drama is the only form of storytelling, so I wanted to challenge and question that.’

After going into the rehearsal rooms for the first round of workshops and improvisation sessions with his cast, Li Xie and Lim Chun Huat, however, he found himself being challenged by the two of them instead. ‘They said that the question of what theatre is is too cold, too distant, too… intellectual,’ he admits. ‘They started asking me why the question is so important to me, and how the audience is supposed to connect to it. And then it occurred to me that I’m really trying to explore the themes of self-doubt and fear – why am I doing theatre?’ When he reached the revelation, he was initially worried that it’d be too ‘selfish’ to centre the work on his own insecurities, but Li and Lim reassured him that that’s the essence of what it means to be human.

Flipping through one of the many notebooks he carries around with him (‘I have one for every project I do’), Liu tells us that he originally came up with five questions as the basis of the play, but has since reworded them to make them more accessible. ‘What is theatre?’, for instance, has now been edited to ‘What does theatre mean to me?’. The final piece was yet to be fully devised when we met up with him, but one thing’s for sure – it will be no less thought-provoking than his initial vision. He reveals that one of the actors will likely be talking without moving, while the other will be dancing with no words.

‘I like to challenge both myself and the audience. I like taking a frame and seeing if I can add or change things and make it take on a different form,’ he says. ‘Ultimately, I’d like the audience to question what theatre is to them, but I’d also like them to question Xiaoyi.’

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Time Out Singapore: June Yap

As the Guggenheim’s No Country exhibition arrives in South-East Asia, Gwen Pew talks to its Singaporean curator June Yap.

No Country

6 May 2014: When June Yap was selected by a committee of experts at New York’s Guggenheim Museum to be the curator of their first UBS MAP Global Art Initiative exhibition, No Country, she was handed an enormous task. Not only would the chosen works be displayed in three different cities – New York, Hong Kong and Singapore – but they would also be introduced to the museum’s permanent collection. ‘When I considered the artworks, I wasn’t just looking at whether they work well with each other in a single exhibition, or just what is most trendy,’ says Yap, who is locally born, bred and based. ‘They have to have a life beyond the exhibition and possess a weight and significance that fits into a broader art history.’

Named after a line in WB Yeats’ poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, No Country is a five-year project that will be divided into three parts, each focussing on a different geographical region. With her wealth of experience in dealing with South and South-East Asian art, having worked at esteemed local institutions such as the Singapore Art Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art for many years prior to becoming a freelance curator in 2008, Yap is the perfect candidate for the first edition of the series, which is centred on this part of the world. She’s always been fascinated with the region simply because ‘there are lots going on that we still don’t know, and there’s still so much to learn,’ she tells us. ‘The art world tends to gravitate towards certain centres, but there are always peripheral places that get missed out, and that is unfortunate.’

At the same time, many people do tend to have specific preconceptions about Asia, which is something Yap was very conscious of, particularly when considering some of her New York audiences who would first see the show. ‘I didn’t want people to go into the show and immediately say, “Oh that’s Asia”,’ she says, explaining why she went to great pains to ensure that the selected works did not confirm to any stereotypes or presumptions.

The exhibition was put together after three months of country-hopping and speaking with artists Yap had previously worked with as well as ones who she’s so far only admired from a distance. The final tally comes to 40 works by 27 artists, comprising a variety of media, from paintings and sculptures to videos and photographs that were all created between 1994 and 2012. After first opening at the New York Guggenheim in 2012 and showing in Hong Kong’s The Asia Society last October, 19 pieces by 16 artists from the show will be arriving in Singapore this month.

Of course, with the shift in the works’ context from a representation of Asia in the West to them being shown in their native region – which Yap views as a home-coming of sorts – comes a change in audiences as well. Although she acknowledges that many people in Singapore have yet to make gallery-going a regular activity, Yap has faith that the collection of works in No Country will be able to pique the public’s interest.

‘Love Bed’ by Indian artist Tayeba Begum Lipi, a double bed made out of razorblades, which is a brilliantly eye-catching piece that hints at the idea of domestic violence. Vietnamese- American Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s ‘Enemy’s Enemy: Monument to a Monument’ – a baseball bat beautifully carved with a monument to Thich Quanc Duc, a monk who immolated himself in 1963 in protest against the Diem regime – encompasses both the artist’s dual identity and a wonderful juxtaposition between violence and serenity.

It’s been two years since Yap first selected the works, but she’s clearly still infatuated with them. ‘I’m still amazed when I look at them, and I still want to touch some of those pieces!’ she laughs. ‘Revisiting them is like re-reading a good book. They’re familiar, and yet I’m still finding new things about them.’ At the time of print, she is working with the team at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at Gillman Barracks to install the show, but also to put together a programme of guided tours, artists’ talks and screenings for the public to learn more about the works.

‘I don’t think one should judge how successful a country’s art scene is by the number of people going to the museums, but rather by asking whether or not they are producing exciting works that make people want to come in and see and find out about them,’ says Yap. ‘I believe that it’s about finding that personal experience with the art, and to encourage them to continue and be unafraid [to question their meanings].’ The rest, she insists, will follow.

Time Out Singapore: Nadia Ng

Singapore’s largest art fair introduces a new element to their 2014 show, Gwen Pew find out more as she chats to Nadia Ng, director of Art Stage’s Curated Projects.

Nadia Ng, curator of the South-East Asia Platform at Art Stage 2014.

Nadia Ng, curator of the South-East Asia Platform at Art Stage 2014.

31 Dec 2013:

At last year’s Art Stage, there were only ‘pavilions’ for Singapore and Indonesia. What brought about the decision to establish the wider South-East Asia – and other country and regional – ‘platforms’ this year?

Art Stage is the only international art fair with a clear Asian identity, especially in South-East Asia. It is our mission to present art in context. The success of the Indonesian Pavilion in 2013 led to this new series of curated country platforms that we will premiere this year.

What is the idea behind it?

The platforms will offer a snapshot from individual countries or geographic regions of the Asia Pacific, filtered through the lens of experts in their respective countries. Many may not be familiar with what is current and what is considered ‘in the know’ across different parts of the region; we want to tap on specialists to explore and unearth these discoveries for visitors.

Talk us through the process of how you and the other country experts picked the works to display. What were the criteria?

The quality and maturity of an artistic concept and expression are the main criteria. Art Stage collaborates with leading curators from each country to guide the shortlisting and selection of artists. The South-East Asia Platform, for example, will feature 30 art projects from seven countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand). There are a number of new works specially developed for the platform, institution-worthy pieces and underrecognised artists who are debuting here.

How will the platforms be displayed?

The projects will be presented in a museum-like exhibition format – there will not be partition walls to separate the works but the presentation layout is carefully designed in order to offer a seamless experience to our visitors.

What can we expect from Singapore here? Who are the galleries and artists who are taking part?

In the South-East Asia Platform, there will be a ten-metre-long work by Jane Lee and a multi-media installation by Jolene Lai and Sarah Choo. Other local artists include Michael Lee, Chua Chye Teck, Chun Kaifeng, Jeremy Shama, Donna Ong and Robert Zhao Renhui. In the fair, you can also see works by Han Sai Por, Ng Joon Kiat and Ruben Pang.

Time Out Singapore: Chris Levine

Born in Canada and now based in the UK, Chris Levine, 53, is a renowned artist who has created iconic portraits of Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth II. Rather than using traditional media like paint or pens, however, Levine is famed for his use of light. As Collectors Contemporary showcases a series of his light sculptures, light boxes, photographic prints, holographic works and laser light installations, he tells Gwen Pew more about his art.

Chris Levine's piece of the Queen. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chris Levine’s piece of the Queen. Image courtesy of the artist.

27 Dec 2013:

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While light seems to be a rather unusual medium to work with, Levine has always been fascinated with it: ‘Somehow it resonated with my curiosity – and the more I’ve looked into it, the deeper I’ve gone. I don’t see it as technical, but more that it’s a phenomenon fundamental to life [on Earth].’

2

Teamwork is key in creating his works: ‘Most of my work involves quite a few people and the bringing together of complementary talents. I have a great team of collaborators. Some key players in my story are Dan Siden, the brilliant engineer who oversees all aspects of development and production, Jeff Robb, my guru of 3D imaging, and the Haberdashery team, who fabricate most of my projects.’

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Amidst the wires and light bulbs, the thing that he finds most challenging ‘is to keep [the pieces] soulful. For the work to be evocative, it has to somehow transcend the physical aspects of its production and work on a sensory and experiential level.’

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The pieces that are most special to him are his portraits of Kate Moss: ‘I always knew I would work with her; as a cultural icon, she was right at the top of my wish list as a subject for some time. The work went down really well and all kinds of positivity have transpired as a result.’

 

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If he didn’t become a light artist, he’d have been… ‘A drummer in a rock and roll band! I gave up drumming when I went to art school because you can’t practice quietly and I drove everyone crazy at 3am in my hall of residence. [I’m trying to bring] sound back into my work. I’m fascinated by the idea of seeing sound and it’s part of my future plans and themes.’

Time Out Singapore: Robert Zhao Renhui

Robert Zhao Renhui has become one of Singapore’s best-known and most acclaimed artists through his single-minded obsession with zoology. As he unveils his latest series – focusing on birds, bees and flowers – Gwen Pew heads to his studio to meet the man behind the camera.

Robert Zhao Renhui in his studio. Image courtesy of Morven Koh.

Robert Zhao Renhui in his studio. Image courtesy of Morven Koh.

5 Dec 2013: The bright yellow door is unlocked, the lights inside flicker on, and into a jungle of creativity we tumble. There’s almost too much to take in all at once: on the central table alone, there’s a box filled to the brink with iridescent beetles in packets, a fake yellow flower with long tassels pokes its slender neck out from a shiny bronze vase, a dead fish lies pickling in a jar with a few other bugs next to a microscope. The rest of the room brims with books, shelves, boxes and framed photographs of landscapes and various animals lining the walls.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we had stumbled into a zoologist’s laboratory, but this is actually the studio of Robert Zhao Renhui, tucked away on the fifth floor of Goodman Arts Centre. ‘It’s sort of like my brain, don’t you think?’ says the 30-year-old artist, surveying the space with quiet pride. ‘I work over there, I talk over there, I sleep over there – next to the bookshelves – but only when I have to work late…’

The whimsical nature of the studio reflects that of the man himself, who has a tendency to pause in the middle of his explanations, as though lost in his own stream of consciousness, and fluently flits between speaking about the real world and the one that he has conjured up through his photographs. He is, however, crystal clear about at least one thing: ‘I am not a zoologist or a scientist. I am an artist,’ he states emphatically. ‘People assume that I like animals just because of my work, and I do like them, but as an artist I’m interested in finding out why I like them and what makes me want to look at them.’

His fascination with animals started at an early age. He remembers always wanting to go to zoos wherever he went, and started collecting and taking photos of roadkill – which he kept in jars filled with alcohol – when he was 16. Today, he is known for his award-winning images of animals and the natural world in general, and operates under a fictional society called the Institute of Critical Zoologists. If you look under the ‘History’ section of the website, it says that the institute was founded in 1996 as a merger between Japanese and Chinese animal centres. In reality, however, Zhao established the platform in 2008 during his time at the Camberwell College of Arts in the UK. Furthermore, most of the life-like animals in his pictures are, in fact, usually either dead or realistic-looking models and toys collected from various sources, including pet shops (where he buys most of his dead fish and birds) and donations from various friends.

‘Living animals are too difficult to work with. They’re always moving and you can’t control them,’ he says. ‘I’m not really trying to mess with people’s heads. I just want to challenge the way we see things and prompt my audience to be more reflective. Institutes and photography are both authoritative sources, and I want people to question them. I’m against reading everything too simply.’

2013 has been a busy year for Zhao. He was one of six local artists to be selected to take part in the President’s Young Talents exhibition earlier this year, and is currently showcasing his expansive series, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, at the 2013 Singapore Biennale (on display at the Peranakan Museum), which is essentially an encyclopaedic series of portraits of over 50 domesticated animals or species that have learned to adapt to man-made environments.

During his research for the project, one thing that captured his interest in particular was a species he calls the ‘blood bee’. ‘It’s this kind of bee in New York that started producing red honey,’ Zhao explains. ‘And they found out that it’s because they’ve been drinking juice produced at a cherry factory.’

As he delved deeper into the world of bees, another series of works began to form. He found out that bees, along with most insects and birds, see and communicate in the ultraviolet spectrum – so attempting to present the world as they see it, Zhao shot a series of images with a handheld UV light. Each shot consists of six or seven different photos, all stitched together on Photoshop, where Zhao also enhanced the UV colours digitally.

The finished collection of nine photographs, named The Last Thing You See, opened last month at 2902 Gallery and will be showing until the start of January. Part of the idea, says Zhao, is to question the idea of vision and our understanding of what living things see.

‘You know, there are these spiders that spin very intricate webs in the forests and we’ve been mystified by them for ages, because surely they’d want to keep a trap invisible. We used to think that it’s to warn humans so that we don’t step on them,’ Zhao explains. ‘It wasn’t until recently that we realised that under UV lights they look like flowers to insects – flowers communicate with bees through UV to guide them to where the pollen is – so they will get confused and fly straight into it. Sometimes, our vision is more limiting than informative.’

While he has travelled far and wide – from the Arctic to deserts – to shoot his images, the current series are all shot locally; the orchids and birds were photographed at the Botanic Gardens and Jurong Bird Park respectively. As he puts it, ‘Singapore is a fruitful place to work. There’s more support and resources; I know where everything is and things get done faster.’

From the teenage roadkill collector messing around with his dad’s camera to a nationally-beloved photographer whose star is still on the rise, Zhao has certainly come a long way – and he has no intentions of stopping here. He doesn’t think that he’ll be moving away from working with animals and nature anytime soon, but looks forward to continuously refining his style.

And as for what happened to all those dead animals in jars that he painstakingly kept over the years? ‘I just threw them all out. I always thought that I could do something with them one day, but there really wasn’t much I could do. And it was just getting kind of gross,’ he says. ‘Yeah, just… gross.’

Time Out Singapore: ‘The Nutcracker’ Preview

No Christmas season is complete without the beloved ballet, The Nutcracker. This year, Singapore Dance Theatre will be putting on a version that is set in pre-WWI Shanghai. Gwen Pew speaks to artistic director Janek Schergen to find out more.

Janek Schergen. Image courtesy of Singapore Dance Theatre.

Janek Schergen. Image courtesy of Singapore Dance Theatre.

26 Nov 2013: 

Tell us a bit more about this set-in-Shanghai production of The Nutcracker – how much of it will be Shanghai, and how different will it be from the original, western one?

It’s all set in Shanghai, that’s the whole idea of it, except Act II which is the Land of Sweets. But the basic idea is that the parts of reality are set in Shanghai. The reason for this is that our previous Nutcracker sort of turned Asian dancers into German dancers and called them German names and was set in Germany. To me, it was fine, but I thought more could be done with it. You could take it and make it more understandable why there were Asian dancers in a Western context. So what we did was to set it in Shanghai, and there was a mix of people who are Western and Asian and there’s this idea that there’s a western influence but there are still people who keep their traditions – like the Grandma who refuses to wear anything but her traditional dress, and she finds this whole thing going all around her just a little bit silly. We don’t do so much with the Christmas tree; it’s there as a novelty. The real purpose of the party is for the husband to give his wife a beautiful necklace in front of all of his friends. When Drosselmeyer appears, he appears with his nephew Kristian and his schoolmates and eventually Kristian becomes the Cavalier, together with the Sugarplum Fairy – Clara’s older sister.

You’ve previously staged this version in 2011 – why did you decide to do it again just two years after?

Because most companies do it every year. In almost every company around the world, Nutcracker is being done every year. We don’t have the tradition, but in most other places – it has nothing to do with climate or location, like the same thing with music like The Messiah, no one thinks ‘we can’t do it here, that’s not our tradition’, everyone loves The Nutcracker. It’s a Christmas time ballet, very much like A Christmas Carol or The Messiah. There are a few things that are definitely sort of Christmas-centric ideas or feelings. Also, The Nutcracker is one of the few ballets that you can take a child to. The child can enjoy it just as much as the adult can. The adult can enjoy it on a certain level, and the child can enjoy it on a different level. The duration of the ballet isn’t too long either and it’s got some of the most beautiful music ever composed.

What, if anything, are you doing differently this time round?

I’m doing a couple of things differently because I made a cut in the music two years ago that I never liked and I’m going to fix that this time. Any time you go back to a ballet for the second time, there’s always fixes. It doesn’t have to stay the same just because you did it that way before, so the changes are mostly visible to us inside but not necessarily visible to people outside. There are certain things that I’d still like to fix if I could, but I’m limited by time and budget.

Is the rehearsal process any easier this time? Why, or why not?

Worse. When you’re doing it for the very first time, you have no standard to measure up against, you’re making it up as you go along. So there’s nothing to adhere to. With a classical ballet, there are certain things definitely, but once you’re recreating it, you can upgrade it. It was very successful when we did it in 2011 so I have to keep it to that production and then upgrade it, so if there’s a change made, it has to make it better. If there’s something there that’s the same, it has to be of an even better quality this time. Every single time you do something, you want to do it to a higher level. Plus, since I just did a children’s audition and taught the scholars their places there are over 40 children in this ballet. That’s just one cast and there’s still a second cast. So also working with children is a big responsibility in the fact that you are giving some of them their very first theatrical experience at being on stage and that can either be a wonderful experience or a horrible experience. And for almost anybody in The Nutcracker, it should be a great experience. It’s really important that the experience will build the love of dance in these children and it’s a huge responsibility. I take it very seriously.

Which is your favourite scene from the show? Why?

The snow scene. Time stops when snow happens, to me. Time stops when they come out.

For people who are perhaps a bit intimidated by the ballet as something that is too high-brow for them, what advice would you give them? Why should they come to see The Nutcracker?

Nutcracker is the least high-brow of all of these ballets. Nutcracker and Coppelia actually, it doesn’t take much to figure out what is going on. Nutcracker marks time. Almost everybody who saw the show can remember the moment when they first saw it. If you ask somebody, they usually can tell you when they saw it. There’s almost always a time stamp. If you’re a ballet person, and you go to so many performances, you usually can’t remember when you saw a particular work. But for Nutcracker it’s different. I think it’s because it’s one of those things that is a shared experience. In most places in the world, Nutcracker is done every year. The New York City Ballet for instance has done it since 1954 and they do about 50 performances every single year. But what Nutcracker is used for that company is the introduction of first principals. The first time somebody does a principal role is The Nutcracker, because of its structure. You hardly put anybody on for the first time in Swan Lake, because it’s just too much. But for The Nutcracker, it’s a way of introducing someone to a principal role in a way that they can succeed, and they can do it well.

Time Out Singapore: Edible Art Movement

Founded in the UK in the 1920s to bring art, theatre and food together, the Edible Art Movement makes its first overseas debut here in Singapore at the Affordable Art Fair this month. Gwen Pew speaks to Nicola Anthony (Co-Founder and Chef d’arte), Jane Shishido (Chief Matchmaker and Ingredient Sourcer) and Grace Astari (Identity Mixologist) to find out more about this curious society

A treasure trove of scents. Image courtesy of Edible Art Movement.

A treasure trove of scents. Image courtesy of Edible Art Movement.

12 Nov 2013:

The bio on your website says that the Edible Art Movement combines theatre, art, and food. That’s a pretty unusual mix – can you tell us a bit more about exactly what EAM is about?

We’ve always wanted to build a teleportation machine, to transport us to different times, cultures, realms and imaginary worlds. However, in the process of failing to teleport, we learnt that art and the edible both have the power to transport your mind. Our current-day Edible Art Movement members create spectacular experiences, participatory installations and art happenings to stimulate all five senses. We work from our lively studio (not from a kitchen), and occasionally a science lab. What are we about? High quality contemporary art, but we also seek to create work that is playful, definitely not pretentious, and engages people both inside and outside of the art world. We don’t really create theatre in any traditional sense, although there is a large dose of theatrical spectacle in our installations and we love to encourage our audiences to participate. We must admit, for our upcoming event, a circus influence led us to collaborate with some dancers, which we are very excited about.

Was it really founded in 1920? (That’s an awfully long time ago!) And if so, why is it still relevant today?

Yes, EAM is believed to have been founded in the early 1920s by a group of experimental artists, intellectuals, poets and philosophers. However, much of our history has been passed down the generations through stories and by word of mouth, so it’s quite shrouded in mystery. Of course in the past EAM was a highly secretive movement, until we launched the more contemporary, public version of the Edible Art Movement (which we affectionately call EAM).

Relevancy is very important. Both food and art have the power to connect people, link us to our histories, and help us discover other cultures. Whilst the edible realm is always our starting point, our events are constantly changing and seeking to engage people. Our projects are highly curated, thematic, and based on histories or cultural stories.

Who decided to bring the EAM from London all the way to Singapore, and why?

With roots in Europe, the EAM’s stories indicate a strong influence from Asia – particularly via the Silk Road and then the Silk Route by sea – so it feels very fitting to be working with artists in Asia. We travel for food and art. So we had been looking at Singapore for a while – let’s face it, Singapore is edible heaven. We noticed the power of the hawker centre to bring together old, young, rich and poor… It’s very EAM. When one of our co-founders (of modern-day EAM) relocated her art studio to Singapore, well… it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to start working with local colleagues and artists to create events in South-East Asia.

Who are the EAM members in Singapore currently, and how did you guys get involved?

The behind the scene core EAM team members are Nicola Anthony, Jane Shishido and Grace Astari. It was just one of those spontaneous, yet destined moments when likeminded people happen to be inspired by similar things. We are all involved in the art scene, with cosmopolitan backgrounds, and fascinated by how we engage with food. For the first year we are working with a roster of Singaporean and South-East Asia based artists. However our core team is growing and we aim to initiate some more artist members and core team members by the end of 2015. On top of this, we have an amazing team of volunteers and creative elves, and we work with some fantastic interns from the Lasalle-Goldsmiths course.

You’ll be making your local debut at the Affordable Art Fair – what can we expect to see there?

CIRQUE du SCENT will be an interactive, fragrant, art installation. Unlike anything else at the fair, we will not have a traditional white-cube booth, but a darkened, walk-in installation which houses an archive of the food aromas and curiosities which have inspired great artists throughout history (think Manet’s ‘Le Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe’, or Dali’s ‘Lobster Telephone’). Within this we invited six artists to create their own interpretations of CIRQUE du SCENT, the EAM’s scent archive. Visitors to our booth will be following their senses to get the ultimate EAM experience, and are invited to participate. Meanwhile, we have collaborated with local dance company JSLN, so watch out for the EAM pop-up performances all around the fair, and our fragrant dance performance in the entrance space from 6.30-7.30pm on Arty-Licious evening.

What do you hope to achieve with the works that you’ll be presenting?

We aim to allow people to become part of our installation, and give them an experience they won’t forget. We hope it will be like stepping out of the art fair and into another world. Visitors will see work by the fantastic emerging artist Kenneth Lee, and of course, Eugene Soh aka Dude.SG. We fell in love with Eugene’s iconic photograph, ‘The Last Kopitiam’, which embodies our ethos – history, food, art and cultural references are all woven into this artwork that Singaporeans have taken into their hearts. We have also had lots of fun at the Dragon Kilns and have invited three ceramic artists – Michelle Lim, Tok Yu Xiang and Steven Low Thia Kwang.

One of our key goals is to showcase and work with talented, contemporary, Asia-based creatives. We are thrilled to have already begun this journey and to have worked with inspiring professionals such as Jason Lim who has kindly been EAM’s advisor in selecting the perfect ceramists for CIRQUE du SCENT.

What other projects are in the works at the moment, and what can we expect from you guys in the near future?

We’ve received such a positive response from the creative arts community in Singapore and wider Asia that we are busy lining up an exciting schedule of events for 2014. There is a lot of research, sourcing and concept design that goes into each event – we will be expanding our already very strong team, as well as working with some exciting collaborators and venues. Currently it’s all top secret, but we can say that it may or may not involve the following: three turtles, five miles of noodles, one blue rabbit, an indoor snow fight, a vision of liquorice, the chance to dance, many banquets and a large amount of wine!

Time Out Singapore: ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ Preview (Alan Wong)

Making his local stage debut in this month’s Gruesome Playground Injuries – Pangdemonium!’s third production (this one also by a Pulitzer finalist, Rajiv Joseph) – the California-born Wong is one of two actors in the show, which follows his character Doug’s love affair with Kayleen (played by Seong Hui Xuan) from age eight to 37. Here, Gwen Pew learns a bit more about the handsome actor.

Alan Wong. Image courtesy of Pangdemonium! Productions.

Alan Wong plays the clumsy, accident-prone Doug in Gruesome Playground Injuries. Image courtesy of Pangdemonium! Productions.

5 Nov 2013:

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When Wong decided that he wanted to explore opportunities in Asia, he had initially moved to Hong Kong, but ‘soon realised that Hong Kong didn’t have many English-speaking opportunities,’ he says. ‘After an audition in Singapore, I found all the opportunites I needed.’

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He’s also appeared on US TV shows such as Hannah Montana, but his favourite art form is still theatre: ‘I love the singular moment of experience that theatre creates. Movies and television shows can be watched at any time. But a stage performance only happens once. The next performance will never be the same as the last. That’s pretty magical. That’s what I love.’

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He’s looking to act more, but his current day job is being a VJ on MTV Asia, which he started in March after moving here: ‘As of now, my focus is onGruesome and hosting The MTV Show,’ he says.

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Despite his experience, he’s a bit nervous about his local stage debut: ‘I’m always at least a little nervous about everything I do, but I think nerves are important. They can either make or break you. The trick is to use them to serve your performance and not diminish it. But since this is the first time anyone in Singapore has seen me act and not host, I’ll admit there are a few extra nerves.’

5

In Gruesome, his character is a bit accident-prone [hence the title]: ‘Doug has been a really fun character to explore so far. He has a kind soul and cares a great deal for Kayleen, but he isn’t exactly the smartest tool in the shed. He’s not stupid, though, he just lacks a little common sense. He spends much of the play accidentally hurting himself severely.’

Time Out Singapore: Guo Yixiu

The fourth edition of the Singapore Biennale – one of the largest events on the local arts calendar – has officially opened. In this first of nine video interviews with artists from various artistic and cultural backgrounds, Gwen Pew delves into the brain of multi-disciplinary artist Guo Yixiu and find out who the man in her colourful installation piece really is.