Tuesday, 6 October 2020

6 events and festivals in Singapore that have gone digital in 2020

Even as Singapore is gently easing its Covid-19 restrictions given declining daily and community cases, the virus outbreak continues to persist globally. And with social-distancing measures still enforced throughout the city-state, it’s no wonder that many festival organisers are going virtual with their offerings this year, with support from the government’s new Digitalisation Fund.

The Singapore Heritage Festival went full digital when it launched back in June, with virtual tours, culinary workshops, documentaries and a slew of mini-series and podcasts that festivalgoers can access from the safety of their home. The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), too, took to the web with a range of curated virtual events such as talks, workshops, performances and more that can be accessed through its new SIFA All-Access online platform (ongoing until the end of the year). Here are some other existing and upcoming art programmes and events that you can attend from wherever you are.

SIN-SFO Painting with Light
A scene from SIN-SFO

1. Painting with Light

National Gallery Singapore’s third edition of Painting with Light – a festival of international films about art – is fully online and completely free for the first time ever. Singapore-based viewers will have unlimited access to a selection of new and acclaimed existing Southeast Asian stories from 2 to 25 October 2020. Expect a line-up of 20 insightful short films and full-length features, including seven local premieres, all of which have an underlying common theme of exploring the complex and abstract concept of home. Gold by Burmese filmmaker Lee Yong Chao is a poignant reflection of a young man’s hopes and dreams, even as he lives and works on a rickety gold-mining boat; while SIN-SFO by Singaporean director Leon Cheo discusses the anxieties, dilemmas and complexities of emigration.

2. Octoburst! 2020

The 17th edition of the annual children’s festival will present a series of free digital programmes that are available from 5 to 18 October 2020. The slew of exciting activities, ranging from puppetry, theatre, dance and musical performances to craft activities, talks and self-guided trails, are meant to engage younger ones and encourage them to embark on an adventure with the use of their imagination.

The Intervention of Loneliness (Lockdown Edition) da:ans festival
The Intervention of Loneliness (Lockdown Edition)

3. da:ns festival

This annual dance festival by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is rolling out a line-up of digital programmes this year. These include a re-examination of movement artist Ming Poon’s works in The Intervention of Loneliness (Lockdown Edition), which examines vulnerability and intimacy when people are apart; a quirky, side-splitting performance by Japanese group s**t kingz titled The Escape Game, a specially commissioned work that charts a thrilling journey of escape and imagination; and an intimate look at the last rehearsal of a specially assembled company of 38 dancers from 14 African countries before they embark on an international tour. da:ns festival will occur from 12 to 31 October and there are plenty of performances, workshops, backstage highlights and artist chats that are sure to delight dance aficionados.

Former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K Smith. Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

4. Singapore Writer’s Festival

With a theme of Intimacy, the annual premier literary festival is going digital for the first time in its history and will question notions of loneliness, mental health, human connection, interaction and community mindedness in a year of social distancing. Taking place from 30 October to 8 November, it will feature global and local literary luminaries as headliners, such as British novelist and essayist Zadie Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poets Tracy K Smith and Sharon Olds and multi-award-winning Chinese sci-fi novelist Liu Cixin. The extensive list of multilingual programmes includes talks, workshops, panel discussions, an interactive exhibition, dramatised storytelling sessions, podcasts and more.

How Can I Tell You I Miss You ArtScience
Still from How Can I Tell You I Miss You

5. ArtScience on Screen

ArtScience Museum has commissioned several micro films that are available for streaming online. Two films – How Can I Tell You I Miss You, a somber reflection on mortality in light of the current global pandemic; and Late Spring, a homage to Yasujiro Ozu’s film of the same name – were previously released. The most recently released work is Sonorous Sketches: Visualising a Field Recording Dubplate, a film that comprises experimental visualisations of soundscapes recorded in the Singaporean wild. Talks and Q&As with the filmmakers are available for viewing on the museum’s YouTube page as well. The movies are part of a larger ongoing ArtScience at Home initiative that comprises virtual tours, workshops, talks, panel discussions, screenings and performances.

Drawings DICK LEE Notes to Self
A piece from Dick Lee’s collection of drawings titled Notes to Self


In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the National Museum of Singapore has launched an online art showcase that will present newly commissioned works by Singapore-based artists. Guest curated by veteran fashion designer and multi-disciplinary artist Yang Derong, it will feature 140 works from 91 creatives, making it the first and largest online showcase in the city-state, according to the museum. Featuring works created through the mediums of photography, visual arts, fashion, lyrical verse and more, viewers will be guided through nine chapters detailing various themes that highlight the situation during Singapore’s circuit-breaker period. Works include a selection of drawings by singer-songwriter Dick Lee and children’s book illustrator Lee Kow Fong (Ah Guo) that represent home; video essays that depict the new normal; and photo essays from photographers such as David Chan and Ryan Loh who documented their lives at home for 19 days.

Jet Ho
Photographs by Jet Ho, titled Skies Are Made Out of Boredom – one of the works from #NEVERBEFORESG

SEE ALSO: Stunning virtual museum tours to catch from your couch 

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