Singapore International Festival of Arts will be from 26th April to 12th May with ticketed performances from theatre to music, such as the likes of Nico Muhly. This time round, there will also be a Festival House featuring a mix of performances, interactions and installations for festival goers and art makers. Based at The Arts House, the various intimate spaces within the building might be interesting in lending itself to the festival vibes. Among the works, The Lapse Project by Singapore collective INTER-MISSION will be at Gallery II.
The collective, founded in 2016, consists of Singaporean artists Marcel Gaspar, Urich Lau, Shengen Lim and Teow Yue Han. Being an art collective with a focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative works, they mainly engage with a range from audio art to installations, and discourses of technology in art.
The Lapse Project questions memory, space and legacy through lapses in time, space, structure, vice versa. It invites us to embody and imagine a world that is constituted through interfaces where places of artistic and cultural identities become editable. It is within your power to switch them on or off. What, then, would you do? And will we suddenly realise what these institutions mean to us only when they are gone?
Popspoken speaks to the folks over at INTER-MISSION to discover the spaces of memory and how technology might be helpful in archiving them, or not.
Popspoken: Our landscape changes so often as we constantly struggle for space. How different is your childhood Singapore from the Singapore we see now?
INTER-MISSION: When growing up, the idea of space in Singapore seemed to be merely about negotiating between places and remembering landmarks where left us deep impressions.
As children, the world is a place of exploration and discovery, but at the same time there was heightened awareness of slight changes in the familiar places where the impact of such places and comfort zones have disappeared or heavily altered would leave a mark in our memories. Almost immediately, there was a sense of a void in a once occupied space. New buildings and structures replaced or sometimes, displaced our sense of belonging.
PS: Which monument in Singapore is most significant for you personally?
I: I remembered The Merlion vividly as a young child because it is so unique and kitsch at the same time. Other examples like The Civilian War Memorial, Tan Kim Seng Fountain at the Esplanade Park Memorials because we have gone there for Satay Club during our childhood days.
PS: What do you think about the phrase ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’?
I: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Nevermind. Singapore is constantly changing, many of the old landmarks and buildings get makeover or bulldozed over time. The people’s memories of the changing urban and cultural landscapes are only archived in fleeting moments in debates and discussions online and offline.
PS: How visible is The Arts scene in Singapore to a non-arts person? Do you feel it is accessible enough?
I: The arts scene in Singapore is visible if you just pay attention to what you are looking at. On a daily basis, it would go unnoticed or ignored because the general public may not be in the mood or choose to go attend an art event. Looking at any event calendar on social media and art listing, one could find all sorts of cultural and artistic events that cater to all types of audiences happening in various parts of Singapore at all times. In galleries, public spaces, alternative spaces, pop-up spaces, or art institutions.
The arts is out there, so the question would be apt if it is about how to pitch the arts to the audiences.
PS: What are some thoughts or inspirations you have in coming up with The Lapse Project?
I: We are concerned about the conditions in the artistic and cultural influences in Singapore, especially in the contemporary art contexts. Questions that we are posing: what do you see in the arts scene that could define Singapore’s artists and our art practices. Is Singapore solely looking at institutionalised art as the benchmark or export to the rest of the world? What would happen in an alternative viewpoint, when major art institutions never existed?
That led to our wildly imagined world if British colonialism never took place here and left us with the post-colonial governmental and administrative buildings, which then are gazetted as national monuments and repurposed into art museums. Without these pivotal factors and the colonial relics/buildings, will Singapore arts be what they are or still strive vibrantly on an alternative tangent? Looking at causal situations and hyperboles, we are also concerned about the evolving and expanding usage of technology in terms of production, dissemination and the archiving of art today.
And because of the constant issues in the lack of space and resources, will our culture and the arts be quantified, converted, stored and archived as digital data without the need of physical spaces and institutions, would memories of our culture be lapsed under the influences of technology? We hope that the audiences and artists alike will start to have constructive conversations from there.
To find out more about the Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2018, click here.
Look up more information about The Lapse Project here.
Photographs courtesy of SIFA.