Due to (imaginary) budget constraints, The RAT won’t be giving away any (imaginary) T-Awards this year.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t give a shout out right? Here are my picks for the year across the local arts scene.
(And just to be clear about it, I liked Wicked, The Lion King, Art Stage and the Musee d’Orsay show at the National Museum but… let’s talk about the rest shall we?)
What were your faves in 2011?
1. FEAR OF WRITING by TheatreWorks
“From start to end, Tan Tarn How’s newest play in a decade is a scathing indictment against every member of the theatre community, whether it be the artist who creates or the audience who responds, as it analyses the very the act of writing itself and its limits, and more specifically, the idea of political plays in Singapore, within the larger context of art’s increasing commodification and the neutering of politics as entertainment fodder.”
2. CALENDARS (2020-2096) by Heman Chong
“Funneled into a fictional framework of a desolate Singapore of the future, it is at once universal and specific, experimental and traditional, cerebral and visceral, creating an impact that only an exhibition that deals with such big themes like time and space literally can have.” (From an article that came out in TODAY)
3. RE: OK… BUT! by THE Dance Company
“For one and a half hours, I sat in front mesmerised by the all-out levels of physical and emotional intensity as THE Dance Company brought to life this uber dark collaboration between choreographers Kuik Swee Boon and fest guest Kim Jae Duk… From the very first scene of two men gasping for breath and hyperventilating as they collapse on the floor, you are dragged into this world of conflict, seething with menace and violence.”
4. THE 1955 BALING TALKS by Five Arts Centre
“The inclusion of twitter gave an added dimension to the already gripping proceedings. Not only were you reliving the moment by simply watching the performance, you were reliving it as a real-time online event as well… More than just an innovative performance, what really sucks you in is how it lays bare the essence of politicking as incompatible ideologies lock horns.”
5. TURN BY TURN WE TURN by The Finger Players
“The Monkey King’s outrageous adventures, China’s tumultuous 20th century history, and the saga of a passionate artist… The Finger Players have created a powerful ode to a dying art that left us breathless with admiration. … A treatise on the social and historical dimensions of art even as the artist tries to transcend these very same things. An epic tour de force of miniature proportions, we were seduced by this play.” (From a review that came out in TODAY)
6. COOLING OFF DAY by W!ld Rice
“Despite being staged months after GE 2011, it maintains a sense of urgency, a play caught up in the heat of the moment that wants to be heard now, now, now… And that is what makes it all the more potent. The subject matter’s very specificity of time and place, the current context outside of the arguably neutral space of theatre enlarges the work to the point that it becomes more than just a play.”
7. ARTISTS IN THE NEWS by Koh Nguang How
“The best work at the Singapore Biennale comprises 80 boxes of newspapers — containing an astounding three decades of news about the local arts scene. Painstakingly compiled and presented by The Artist Village artist/archivist Koh Nguang How, entering his room (turned into his personal archival office for the duration of the Biennale) is a humbling experience. It is not just a triumph of dedication and love; neither it is just one singular artwork — it is the sum of Singapore’s contemporary art history crammed into two rooms.” (From a Singapore Biennale article that came out in TODAY)
8. DUST: A RECOLLECTION by TheatreWorks
“A culmination of everything we’ve come to expect from (Vertical Submarine): their intricate room installations, trademark textual wit and the performative aspects seen in their last big work, the carnivalesque Abusement Park…. I never thought I’d say this about one of their pieces, but sitting there near the end of the play, hearing a disembodied voice telling (for the umpteenth time) the story of these sad characters while staring at an empty stage, I got, erm, slightly emotional.”
9. LOOP THEORY by Sherry Tay and Ho Wen Yang
“A performance-within-a-game-within-a-game-within-a-performance… It’s easy to get suspicious of a piece that boasts of using some fancy schmancy piece of gadget… (but) the use of technology is far from being a mere gimmick or even a handy piece of furniture. No one, from what I know, has tackled the idea of virtual reality, of simulacra, and its relationship with social norms in this way.”
10. SPEAK TO ME, WALK WITH ME by Amanda Heng
“(It’s) Heng’s story as an artist, but it also reflects and parallels the story of Singapore’s contemporary art scene – with its highs and lows, its angry, aggressive and wide-eyed beginnings to its more mellowed, matured state. The issues she brings up – from female identity to patriarchy to debates on language to national memory to power relations – may be high and lofty, but many resulting works are down to earth and truly accessible… Two decades worth of proof that an artist who talks the talk and walks the walk.” (From an article that came out in TODAY)
And because there’s plenty more that happened this year, here are 10 more commendable shows and exhibitions The RAT either liked or thought was important. They are, in no particular order:
- Rated Art by MediaCorp okto (yep, a TV documentary series)
- 881 The Musical by Toy Factory
- Emily Of Emerald Hill by W!ld Rice
- Villa Alicia by Alecia Neo and Clarence Chung
- Ian Woo: A Review (1995 to 2011) by Ian Woo
- The Land Archive by Zhao Renhui
- Closer by Pangdemonium!
- Vague Individual Situations by THE Dance Company
- OH! Open House Marine Parade by Evil Empire
- Singapore by The Necessary Stage (erm, based on a full-dress rehearsal, that is)
And finally, a shout-out to the folks that comprise our, ahem, Phwoar List.
- NAC/Esplanade CEO Benson Puah for the wonderful Goodman Arts Centre (still waiting for that cheaper F&B bar to open though…)
- Theatre actress Karen Tan for, well, being everywhere this year.
- Curator Charmaine Toh for the independently driven artist residency program The Art Incubator.