Four local artists debuting at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2022
Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) is, as the name suggests, all about giving creatives and artists from all over the world a platform for artistic expression. But being a homegrown festival with a 45-year history, contributions from local artists are a vital part of the event. The A List profiles four local artists who will be making their debut at this year’s edition.
1. Kaylene Tan, Devil’s Cherry
Devil’s Cherry is written and directed by Singaporean Kaylene Tan and Australian Paul Rae, who began collaborating at cult Singapore performance company, spell#7. They are participating in SIFA for the first time, bringing their trademark poetic riffs and atmospheric soundscapes to Pasir Panjang Power Station.
Tan writes for theatre, film, and television, and develops concepts and documentaries for CNA (formerly Channel NewsAsia), Suria, and National Geographic. Over the past year, she has worked extensively with Akanga Film Asia and filmmaker K. Rajagopal on multiple commercial projects and short films.
In Devil’s Cherry, a Singaporean couple, Debbie and Mo, lose their geographical and spiritual bearings on the open road in Australia, drifting apart as they seek their true selves on the endless highway. These lost souls stumble into an encounter with the devil, but the Dark One may have met his match.
The performance features some of Singapore’s most charismatic actors – Lim Kay Siu, Neo Swee Lin, emerging actor Elizabeth Sergeant Tan, and mohiniyattam-trained Indian-Australian queer dancer Raina Peterson. Visuals are by Andy Lim, Brian Gothong Tan, and Wong Chee Wai, with the haunting Outback blues of Australian songsmith C.W. Stoneking providing a resonant soundscape.
Get your tickets for Devil’s Cherry here.
2. Riduan Zalani, Ceremonial Enactments
Riduan Zalani brings his outstanding percussion skills to SIFA for the first time this year in Ceremonial Enactments. Riduan released his first solo album, Gelombunk, and his first instructional DVD, That Beat Of Faith, in 2018 – both of which were dedicated to the study and performance of the Malay drum, Rebana.
Put together by Nadi Singapura, Riduan’s creative partnership with fellow Rebana player Yaziz Hassan, Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, and fashion label MAX.TAN, Ceremonial Enactments is a multidisciplinary performance experience that draws on customs and rituals found in the diverse cultures of Singapore.
MAX.TAN opens proceedings with a fashion show inspired by Chinese and Southeast Asian birth rituals. Nadi Singapura takes centre stage in Act II, blending dance and traditional drumming to portray one of the grandest ceremonies within the Malay community – the wedding or the majlis persandingan. In the final act, Bhaskar’s Arts Academy presents an ancient temple dance ritual choreographed by the late Mrs Santha Bhaskar and her daughter Meenakshy Bhaskar.
Expect gorgeous costumes, graceful dance, mesmerising Malay percussion rhythms, and a visually arresting set designed by Randy Chan of Zarch Collaboratives Architectural Studio.
You can get tickets for Ceremonial Enactments here.
3. Kiat, ANKI
As a pioneer of bass driven music in Southeast Asia, Kiat has been championing exploratory electronica for close to two decades, sharing deck duties along the way with the likes of Goldie, Flying Lotus, and Africa Hitech. He was the first Singaporean to be signed to respected UK label Metalheadz, and his debut release, Feeder, made it onto Goldie’s entry to the Ministry of Sound Masterpiece series.
SIFA welcomes Kiat for the first time in 2022 in the shape of ANKI, a sonic film made with American musician Looop. The film is set in the year 3022 when the earth is almost uninhabitable due to the breakdown of governmental systems, with nuclear conflicts rendering land and sea almost barren. The protagonist in this dystopia is ANKI, a future-human who uses his time travel capabilities to view the sun’s last moments before it collapses and swallows the earth.
The film is presented on LIFE PROFUSION, SIFA’s virtual stage, which runs in parallel to the live festival. Acknowledging the digital stage as a new reality for performance and artistic presentation, all the work presented on LIFE PROFUSION is made specifically and exclusively for the virtual stage, rather than being digital recordings of live performances or digital support for physical productions.
Find out more about ANKI here.
4. Eleanor Wong, Remotes x Quantum
Eleanor Wong made her theatrical debut with her first play Peter’s Passionate Pursuit, which clinched a joint first prize at the NUS-Shell Short Play Competition in 1986. Some of her works include the dramatic trilogy of plays Invitation to Treat (published in 2005), two of which were staged as Mergers & Accusations (1993) and Wills & Secession (1995). In 2015, Wills & Secession was lauded by The Business Times as one of the “finest plays in 50 years”.
Wong has published two collections of poetry, y grec (2005, with Madeleine Lee) and Life~science (2010). She balances theatre and poetry with a career in law, currently serving the law faculty at the National University of Singapore in several roles that include Vice Dean of Student Life & Global Relations and Director of the Legal Skills Programme.
In 2015, Wong was a writer-in-residence at the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore. The experience informed her contribution to SIFA 2022 – a multidisciplinary installation titled Remotes x Quantum that ponders the meaning of possession in the context of two contrasting countries: Singapore and the Philippines. It is an exciting fusion of themes in John Torres’ futuristic film, The Remotes, and Wong’s recent text, The Quantum of Space.
Get tickets to Remotes x Quantum here.
(Photos: Kaylene Tan, SIFA, National Arts Council, Bandwagon Asia, NUS Faculty of Law)