Women in history, myths and magic
Apotropaic Texts is an art exhibition that examines the practical use of magic to ward off bad luck and evil influences. (Photo: Jeannie Ho) 

Women in history, myths and magic

If the mention of magic and witches sends chills down your spine, your cure might come in the unlikely form of an art exhibition.

Apotropaic Texts, is as its name suggests, an art show that examines the practical use of magic to ward off bad luck and evil influences. It features works by two female artists – Marylyn Tan and Zarina Muhammad, and it runs until Sunday (28 July) at the home of arts company TheatreWorks in 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road.

Visitors to the show will come upon installations that incorporate incense, spice and charms, as well as soundscapes and poetry in Braille. The immersive presentation compels viewers to consider magic as rituals which help people feel safe and cope with everyday fears.

The works of art also raise questions about how women in history and folklore have been represented in relation to magic, especially where histories of women have been recorded and passed on through generations by men.

The show draws from the artists’ long-term artistic research and practice on ritual magic, gender-based archetypes and culturally nuanced principles of power, protection and sorcery. It is also part of a three-week public project, N.O.W. 2019, helmed by actress and arts educator Noorlinah Mohamed.

The project, whose programme includes film, art, performances, talks and workshops, ends on Sunday. It seeks to celebrate women and how they are speaking up about things that concern them.

Although the show spotlights the voice of the artists, Zarina invites visitors to be attuned to the personal stories and memories that are triggered by what they see, sense and smell in the exhibition space.

She says: “Feel free to project your own readings on what you see. Sense the work through your own cultural lenses and baggage. All my works are intended to destabilise the voice of a single storyteller, and to create more polyphonic spaces for multiple interpretations to come into play.”

Tan echoes a similar sentiment. “Come with an open mind, draw patterns between your own customs of care and the familiarities you see here, and consider your relationship to practices of protection.”

Details about Apotropaic Texts and N.O.W. 2019 here.

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