Passing judgment on the upcoming M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2010 with the festival’s artistic directors, Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma.
Explain the festival’s theme, “Art & The Law”.
We wanted to look at how art can respond to issues of laws and legalities – not just judicial law, but also universal laws that govern social and personal relationships. Also, what are the laws within ourselves as individuals, and can we change these?
In Singapore, we often complain about apathy – yet activism is met with many obstacles. How is active citizenry possible? What happens to people with passion?
We felt that the relationship between art and law would be immensely provocative, considering that art, as a discipline, is about following rules and breaking conventions.
Is it becoming easier each year to lure high-calibre performers?
In the past, we’ve chosen artists from countries with embassies in Singapore in order to attract some sponsorship support. We realised we’d been missing out on art from other places. This year, we have works from countries such as Burma and Iran. We receive an average of 100 applications every year and whittle them down to about 20 for the festival.
Can an act be “not fringe enough” for the festival?
We want variety. If we worry that an act is too mainstream, then we’d title the festival “Avant-Garde” or “Experimental”. Fringe works can be accessible yet touch on remote content. It’s educational and meaningful for an arts festival to celebrate how mainstream cultural life feeds off the fringe. If we understand and appreciate the workings of this ecology, we may finally give fringe culture its due recognition instead of fearing or censoring it.
You two are the directors and writers of one of the festival highlights, _____ Can Change, presented by The Necessary Stage. First (to satisfy an in-office debate!), how do we say the name of the play? Second, why should we see it?
Over here in Fringeville, we say “BCC” or “Blank Can Change”. As in, “fill in the ______”. Everyone should see it because it’s theatre with a difference. It covers personal choice, government, religion and ideology. It’s a work that will get the audience talking.
In last month’s Expat Living, we previewed five highlights of the upcoming Fringe Festival. Here’s a quirky one we missed during our first read-through of the programme.
The Institute of Critical Zoologists: “A Guide to the Common Flora and Fauna of the World”
Inspired by a real-life news story about 15 geckos smuggled out of Australia in hollowed-out books, the Institute of Criminal Zoologists (a “fictional art construct”) has attempted to send its own hidden geckos – fake ones! – from various countries back to Singapore. The returned contents and documentation from this “trafficking” process will be exhibited during the festival. The Institute describes the work as “a criticism of the careless, cruel and over-possessive relationship that man often has with nature; as well as the genuine love and fascination with the beautiful, rare and exotic.”
7-24 January 2010. The Esplanade. Free admission.
The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2010 is on from 13-24 January at The Esplanade and various locations around town. Visit www.singaporefringe.com for info about performances and tickets.
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