Singapore’s Pride Season is on this month! IndigNation 2017: Unafraid to Assemble

For the whole month of August, yes, this month(!), we will be able to engage ourselves in the line-ups of programmes and events at IndigNation Singapore! The opening party will start at 7pm tonight (4th August) at DYMK (41 Neil Road, Singapore 088824), followed by two days of talks, panel discussions, and workshops over the weekend with Natural Education 2: A Queer Conference.

Bookworms may want to check out The Bear Project x Queer Book Club: Faeries, Bears, & Leathermen, and ContraDiction XIII: HOMO BOMOH. The culturally-inclined can take a look at Sayang/Chellame: A Multilingual Queer Love Poetry Event, and TransIt 2: An Evening of Trans Art and Culture, both to be held at Artistry (17 Jalan Pinang, Singapore 199149).

The third weekend of the month will feature IndigNation Film Festival, and not to forget The Glory Hoes Present: Pride (2014) – “a very queer film experience with optional pre-movie dinner, encouraged in-movie drinking and dancing at an all disco Afterparty”, both at The Projector, 6001 Beach Road, #05-00, Golden Mile Tower.

Do set aside some time during the same weekend for QRIENTATION, presented by Inter-University LGBT Network. Here’s a message from them – “We respect the right to privacy of all LGBTQ+ freshmen joining us so if you’re not out, not to worry – your attendance will be kept confidential 🙂 Sign up today!”

Last but not least, on the 28th of the month, drag queens Ashley Fifty, Becca D’Bus, and Mona Kee Kee will create a fabulous spread for a fundraising dinner in aid of IndigNation – The Giving Table. Pleeeeeese support!

Most of the programmes and events are free, a couple of them require registration.

I love it that this is not a one-way traffic, as in attendees are not merely at the receiving end of information and entertainment. Far from that, they are encouraged to actively participate by voicing up, asking questions, sharing, dancing, working together to develop new ideas, and helping to inculcate thoughtfulness in everyone.

See the full list and details of IndigNation here, and Natural Education 2 here.

Here are my personal picks: 

1.) TransIt 2: An Evening of Trans Art and Culture

2.) Inter Alia presents: Conversations on Activism

Natural Education 2:

3.) Ten Years After the Campaign to Repeal 377A

4.) Facts and Myths about PrEP

5.) Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex Work But Were Afraid to Ask

6.) Shades of Purple: Bisexual & Pansexual Experiences in Singapore

7.) Bisu: A Talk on the LGBT Malay Community

IndigNation Film Festival:

8.) Short Circuit 6

9.) Fathers

Why I love the reincarnated Singapore International Festival of Arts?

The previous life of Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) was named Singapore Arts Festival. I totally enjoyed the programmes back then, yet I could not say I loved the Festival. Now I can, with the three-year old SIFA and its pre-festival segment The O.P.E.N, indeed I can. I am thankful to its previous lives, for without them there wouldn’t be something to build on.

Before I state my reasons, I feel the need and urge to put up a special mention of The Sardono Retrospective Presents: Expanded Cinema (free admission) in this year’s SIFA, and related performances The Sardono Retrospective Presents: Solo Live Painting, and The Sardono Retrospective Presents: Black Sun.

Here is why I love SIFA, and The O.P.E.N:

  1. I don’t need another conventionally-proper and world-renowned symphony orchestra or choir or opera or Shakespeare, however, I welcome Borderlands, Ron Arad’s 720° (oh my gosh this one is free admission!), Paradise Interrupted, Hamlet | Collage, and Sandaime Richard.

2. Festival Director Mr Ong Keng Sen is involved from head to toe, he had been seen in performances at past SIFA, always making the effort to perform in at least one production or to present something. He is an artist!

Check out Sandaime Richard by him and Hideki Noda, as well as “an added performative component in collaboration with Festival Director Ong Keng Sen” in THE KULA RING Aesthetic Considerations Of Sharing And Exchange (this one is free admission too!).

3. Affordable pricing; O.P.E.N Pass/SIFA FRIEND; generous discounts.

4. SIFA, and The O.P.E.N present “the darnest” (in the most positive and favourable way) and the most eye-opening events it can bring to Singapore.

For instance, I Am LGB; Everything By My Side; Five Easy Pieces; Ibsen: Ghosts; Sixty-Six; Dances And Ceremonies: Spring/Summer 2017; Artist Workshop by Qetiq & Mukaddas Mijit, just to name a few.

5. SIFA is open to and opts for interesting/thought-provoking/heart-warming venues.

Let’s say, The Projector (for film screening), houses of members of the public, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, Bukit Brown Cemetery, just to name a few.

LASALLE College of the Arts BA(Hons) Film Graduation Showcase, 20th May to 1st June 2016

Congratulations on your graduation, BA(Hons) Film students!

The rest of us can at least show our support and give cheers by watching the films and checking out the exhibition lined up at the showcase. There will be daily screenings of “the best in the school’s fiction and documentary narratives” and an opportunity to visit “the film school’s first ever exhibition of props, wardrobe and equipment used in the making of the films. From recreating a Filipino village in Singapore to simulating rain in broad daylight, we take you behind the scenes to discover how the magic is brought to the screen.”

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Screening

Date: daily from 20th May to 1st June 2016
Timing: noon or 6pm

Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes with a 5-minute intermission
Venue: Screening Room, Block F Level 2 F208, LASALLE College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940

Free admission, see the film listing and get your ticket here. Your ticket is for the date that you have booked, it is good for either the noon or the 6pm session.

Exhibition

Date: daily from 20th May to 1st June 2016
Time: 11am to 8pm

Venue: Flexible Performance Space, Block F Level 1, LASALLE College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940

Trailer

Imaginary Homeland: 我是不是該安靜地走開 by Boedi Widjaja, drawn negatives of photographs that can be viewed as positive images

I was initially attracted to the exhibition by the interesting techniques used by the artist, Boedi Widjaja. Upon understanding his use of the project to tell his personal life experiences (or the experiences that he had missed?), and perhaps also to seek solace and meaning through the process of making the works, I began to feel the emotional and humane side of the exhibition.

“The process started with the artist drawing negative images of press photographs of Indonesian politics in pre-Soeharto (1945-1968) and post-Soeharto (1998-present) periods. The drawings are then photographed into positive prints.

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Shifting between the modality of drawing and photography, the artist reflects viscerally upon the imagery of his personal history, seeking agency.

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to use their mobile devices, with invert colour setting switched on, to view the positive images of the drawings.” – exhibition introduction, Imaginary Homeland: 我是不是該安靜地走開

Switch on the invert colour or negative colours setting on your phone and use your phone camera to view the positive image (i.e. the "normal" photo that we usually see) of this negative. Know who is this in the image?

Switch on the invert colour or negative colours setting on your phone and use your phone camera to view the positive image (i.e. the “normal” photo that we usually see) of this negative. Know who is this in the image?

Widjaja was born in 1975 in Solo City, Indonesia. With his sister, he was sent away to Singapore when he was nine years old due to ethnic tensions in his homeland. Hence, his historicisation of his “former country” was mostly through images and the imagined.

What is interesting is that, the artist started drawing negatives skipping the Soeharto period, with which the first nine years of his life (1975-1984) spent in Indonesia coincided. Is it because he has more vivid memories of that period (albeit being a child) as he was physically there to experience it, so there is no need to rely on too many press images and too much imagination?

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Are drawing the negatives of photographs (‘reverse mode’), and switching between photographic negatives and the positive images (i.e. developed into photographs that we are used to seeing) some kind of yearning that, one can return to a previous condition in a previous setting/place?

I feel a lot of mixed feelings and intertwined emotions in there. I am sharing below photos of the wall texts at the exhibition, please do read all of them so as to piece the exhibition together.

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Maybe your heart will wrench a little, especially if you particularly relate to Widjaja’s narratives. It may not be about the politics or the identity from a homeland, but about certain things that happened during childhood and how these things still take up a lot of space in our heart and mind through adulthood.

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Upon almost to the extent of examining another component of the exhibition – an installation made up of 28 peci (a type of men’s headgear that’s more commonly known as songkok in Singapore) modified into 28 pinhole cameras, I noticed what seemed to be brand labels were sewn on the inside of each peci, and the “brand name” was TANAH AIR, which also means ‘homeland’ in Bahasa Indonesia! I just cannot help wondering whether this was a poignant coincidence or somewhat intended.

An installation made up of 28 peci (a type of men's headgear that's more commonly known as songkok in Singapore) modified into 28 pinhole cameras

An installation made up of 28 peci (a type of men’s headgear that’s more commonly known as songkok in Singapore) modified into 28 pinhole cameras

Labels bearing the words TANAH AIR on the inside of each peci

Labels bearing the words TANAH AIR on the inside of each peci

And then there is the inclusion of a phrase in Chinese language in the title written in traditional Chinese characters. The phrase, which asks ‘should I walk away quietly?’, is also a song title of a ballad sung by Hong Kong pop star Aaron Kwok and released in 1991. If I were to place the profession of love and the dilemma crooned on one’s homeland, I think I can understand how it feels like.

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The exhibition, which was held at Objectifs from 13th to 24th January 2016, was part of Singapore Art Week 2016.

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I salute you, Singapore International Festival of Arts

The reason? 25% off ticket to Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2016 productions!

Please allow me to put arts aside for a moment, and please pardon my economic sense at work. I mean, you know what I mean right? 25% off each ticket is huge, I have long passed the period of being coaxed by a meagre 5% to 10% discount.

On top of that, SIFA’s ticket-pricing has tuned down on the whole compared to the Singapore Arts Festival during the first decade of the century until 2012, after which the festival went on a major revitalisation and transformation (I still remember all the public surveys and open discussions/dialogues) before coming back in 2014, and renamed SIFA with an eye-opening and inspiring pre-festival segment, The O.P.E.N., added to it.

My point is, the SIFA committee did not just willfully decide to extend a big discount and poof, here is the 25% discount. Consider their effort and time spent behind the scene on convincing financial supporters to be even more generous, winning more sponsors and partners, and probably also stepping up cost-saving measures and so on. You seriously need some thick skin and big hands to do all these!

O.P.E.N. Pass is SGD45, Pass holder may register for unlimited number of programmes under this segment. O.P.E.N. Concession Pass is SGD25, students, NSFs and seniors aged 55 and above are eligible. Screen grab from SIFA's website

O.P.E.N. Pass is SGD45, Pass holder may register for unlimited number of programmes under this segment. O.P.E.N. Concession Pass is SGD25, students, NSFs and seniors aged 55 and above are eligible. Screen grab from SIFA’s website

Familiar Strangers: Stories of Migrant Workers Re-presented Exhibition, 2nd & 3rd April 2016

Thank you very much, to you all who help to build Singapore in one way or another.

Exhibition venue: Visual Arts Centre, #01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green, 10 Penang Road, Singapore 238469. (50 metres from Exit A/B of Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station)

Dates & time: 2nd & 3rd April 2016 (this weekend!), noon to 8pm

“Familiar Strangers, a student-run movement from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, will be organising the Familiar Strangers: Stories of Migrant Workers Re-presented exhibition…, …serves as a culmination of efforts to empower migrant workers and engage Singaporeans to reflect on migrant issues, integration and social spaces.”

““What made me interested in working on this project was the fresh perspective on self-advocacy, which gives full editorial control to migrant workers,” says Shahrin Izhar, another member of the group.”

“The exhibition will also feature photographs taken by migrant workers during the Photography as a Voice workshop. “Photographs have been a common and enjoyable way to share stories about experiences, friends and family. We also wanted to present an alternative perspective of Singapore through the eyes of migrant workers here,” says Kenji Kwok, a photojournalist and member of the team.”

Read the full write-up on Singapore Art Gallery Guide here.

I take this opportunity to introduce a non-profit organisation in Singapore dedicated to improving conditions for low-wage migrant workers: TWC2. Also, check out this site on Migrant Worker Poetry Competition, impressive!

Beyond 24 《彼岸24》

Have you ever wondered how other people make use of the 24 hours they have in a day? And have you ever wondered why people are vegetarians or vegans? How come people take a common action for very different reasons? Watch this documentary to find out!

有没有想过其他人是如何利用他们每天24小时的时间?有没有想过人们为什么吃素或吃全素?采取同一个行动的人们却有着非常不同的理由。一起来观看这部纪录片,探个究竟吧!

Beyond 24 | Cantonese, English, Mandarin, with Chinese and English subtitles | 7 minutes

《彼岸24》 | 粤语、英语、华语,附上中文及英文字幕 | 7分钟

Director: Angie P.

导演:小帕

Watch the first short films and the first features by Singapore filmmakers

Wherever you are from, I strongly encourage you to watch local films, appreciate them, and support your local film making industry, especially independent filmmakers and workers.

In this round of Watch Local series by Objectifs – Centre for Photography and Film, we will get to watch the first short films and the first feature films by some of Singapore filmmakers. Everything starts from the first one. Each screening session will feature a director with his or her firsts.

If you have watched one of their later or latest films, you may see how they have progressed and/or the subjects and themes they seek to explore and express have changed or remained. Some of the screenings will be followed by a discussion.

Sign up to be on the mailing list of Objectifs here, or visit their website for the latest screening, classes, and other programmes.

Screening dates and time: 23rd February – 4th March 2016, 7.30pm

Venue: Chapel Gallery, Objectifs, 155 Middle Road, Singapore 188977

Entry by donation, pre-registration is required via Peatix: http://ptix.co/1U6yD1P.

Please note that some films are rated M18 and R21. The organiser will be adhering strictly to age restrictions. Please bring along your identity card or equivalent.

Before listing the full programme schedule, I would like to share with you the two films that I have picked. I have selected them based on the films and their stories, rather than the directors.

  1. Banting by Raihan Halim

‘Banting’ means to throw down/slam downward with force in Malay language. In this movie, I would say, it simply refers to wrestling! The story of a Singaporean Malay girl who aspires to be a wrestler. Not that Malay girls don’t do things outside of the norm, yet making it into a movie is unique and refreshing.

“I refuse to believe that, what I wear can stop me from doing what other girls can.” – Yasmin, the leading lady. Start slamming expectations, and if you have an awesome grandpa (or grandma or both), that’s an added perk!

Banting trailer:

 

Don’t neglect Raihan Halim’s first short film – Sunat (circumcision in Malay language). It’s a lot of “tradition meets modernity” in there. It’s a joyous and exciting event for everyone, but not funny at all for the leading man(-to-be) in the film.

2. A Family Portrait, and Sandcastle by Boo Junfeng

I have watched both of them before, and I would love to watch them again. Twelve years on, Boo Junfeng’s first short film, A Family Portrait, is still intriguing to me. The meaning behind it can be very simple yet the situations can be really complex.

In his first feature, Sandcastle, Boo Junfeng has through a boy discovering his history gently portrayed family and social values, the vulnerability and strength of the ties people have with every important person who has crossed their paths, and the emotions and life events involved. So gentle yet so full of impact.

These films by both directors have confirmed one thing for me, that is, we don’t need superstars, we need actors and actresses who feel for the story and who know how to act their part. The acting were good, natural, and moving.

Sandcastle trailer:

 

Special mention: Liao Jiekai, a filmmaker whose works revolving around St John’s Island in Singapore are my favourite. Alas, his first feature Red Dragonflies is not my type of movie plot.

Full programme schedule (click here for programme details):

23 FEBRUARY, TUESDAY / 7.30PM / RAIHAN HALIM / PG
First Short: Sunat / 2009
First Feature: Banting / 2014

24 FEBRUARY, WEDNESDAY / 7.30PM / LIAO JIEKAI / PG
First Short: Paradise / 2006
First Feature: Red Dragonfiles / 2010

25 FEBRUARY, THURSDAY / 7.30PM / WEE LI LIN / PG
First Short: Norman on the Air / 1997
First Feature: Gone Shopping / 2007

26 FEBRUARY, FRIDAY / 7.30PM / CHAI YEE WEI / M18
First Short: Lao Sai / 2005
First Feature: Blood Ties / 2007

27 FEBRUARY, SATURDAY / 7.30PM / RIC AW / PG
First Short: Buy Me Love / 2005
First Feature: Standing In Still Water / 2014

28 FEBRUARY, SUNDAY / 3PM / DJINN / M18
First Short: By the Dawn’s Early Rise / 1998
First Feature: Perth / 2004

1 MARCH, TUESDAY / 7.30PM / YONG MUN CHEE / R21
First Short: 9:30 / 2004
First Feature: Where the Road Meets the Sun / 2011

2 MARCH, WEDNESDAY / 7.30PM / MENG ONG / PG13
First Short: China Doll / 1991
First Feature: Miss Wonton / 2001

3 MARCH, THURSDAY / 7.30PM / KAN LUME / PG
First Short: The Assassin / 2004
First Feature: The Art of Flirting / 2006

4 MARCH, FRIDAY / 7.30PM / BOO JUNFENG / M18
First Short: A Family Portrait / 2004
First Feature: Sandcastle / 2010