New year, new arts festival, right? 2017 was certainly the year of placemaking and free festivals, and though it might have contributed to the drop in attendance for ticketed arts events here, it’s heartening to know that Singaporeans do want to engage in the arts. (Guess they just don’t want to pay for it.)
The trend is carrying well into the New Year, with marquee event Light to Night Festival spanning two weekends from Jan 19-28. Now in its second edition, the festival first began as a celebration for National Gallery Singapore’s first anniversary. This year, everything is bigger and better, extending to a precinct-wide indoor and outdoor arts festival that kicks off from 5pm till late.
All featured artworks have been selected or commissioned to be site-specific, to reflect on the history of the buildings in the Civic District. And with a theme as pretty as “Colour Sensations”, you can expect lots of gorgeous night-time installations. Here are 7 attractions not to miss.
1. More facade projections
This time, they’re interactive! If you enjoyed the various large-scale media projections that dominated the 2017 arts scene (i.e. Exhibits A, B and C), you’ll be pleased to know more await at Light to Night. Art Skins on Monuments transforms four iconic institutions within the Civic District with colored light projections by 30 artists; but on top of that, the visuals change and react in accordance to the audience’s movements. Only on Fri and Sat, movement will spark refractions of light onto the buildings, while the audience’s “collective energy” will trigger the projections to respond with various colors and patterns. Jan 19-28
2. A roofless outdoor mirror maze
On the Empress Lawn, a multi-sensory House of Mirrors by Melbourne artists Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney marries art and cheesy fun. For $2 a ticket, zip through the labyrinth of mirrors and optical illusions, but take the time to admire what changing sunlight throughout the day does to the maze as well; the installation is completely roofless. Jan 19-28
3. A sci-fi experience in a tunnel, USS Callister style
The historic tunnel linking the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Esplanade Park, in use since the 1960s, gets a futuristic makeover from lighting-design collective Nipek. The display is meant to stimulate awareness of our environment through colored lights and shadows after dark. It’s a brief walk-through, but fun nonetheless. Jan 19-28
4. Music performances by the best of local talent
Now’s the time to catch your favorite local bands and singers—on the weekends, the likes of Charlie Lim, Jasmine Sokko, Gentle Bones, Linying, Disco Hue and more will take the stage at the Padang Atrium. Tip: The bigger names perform at night. Over at Esplanade Park, you can catch fresher faces like Subsonic Eye, Cosmic Child and Iman’s League. Jan 19-20, 26-27
5. A massive art and food market
The Padang will transform into a sprawling picnic ground, with more than 80 food and craft stalls hawking wares. It will be crowded. Jan 19-20, 26-27
6. Yet another teamLab installation—and yes, it’s good
The party continues inside with commissioned works by local and Singapore-based artists. An easy highlight of the entire festival, Walk, Walk, Walk: Search, Deviate, Reunite is an interactive walkthrough by animation bigwigs teamLab. Stroll along with the numerous walking figures projected on the walls of the space—but feel free to interact with them too. The figures react to movement and touch from the audience; they’ll turn to face you, change directions, and even point forwards. Plan ahead to spend hours there. Through Aug 12
7. A truly disturbing but nonetheless monumental work about tigers
It seems obvious enough, and yet the idea of Southeast Asian tigers being a symbol of colonialism was never so fully realized until now. Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen wraps up his series of tiger-related projects with One or Several Tigers, a large-scale multimedia installation that combines shadow puppetry, 3D animation technology, and really unnerving audio. The walkway into the dark room where the animation is projected was also strategically chosen—where the Japanese surrendered in 1945, in the former City Hall. The entire thing is an indescribable experience, but if you find yourself in that confusing void of being both trapped and mesmerized at the same time—it’s fine, us too. Through Jan 28
Light to Night Festival will run from Jan 19-28, 5pm-12mn (Fri & Sat) and 8-10pm (Sun-Thu). Admission is free and more information here.