It’s only a couple of days into 2018, and we’re already gearing up for the first big outdoor festival of the new year! What festival you ask? Well, that honour goes to the 2018 Light to Night Festival, proudly organised by the National Gallery Singapore!
Originating as a first anniversary celebration for the gallery last year, Light to Night will be making a return this January bigger and better than ever before. Held across the entire Civic District from 19th – 28th January, visitors can expect their nights to come alive with some of the most innovative and eye-catching displays of public art to start their year on a high note.
At the media preview held on Thursday, Festival Director and National Gallery Director (Audience Development and Engagement) Ms Suenne Tan unveiled the festival’s full lineup of over 30 programmes, ranging from massive projections that transform the very facade of historical buildings, to intimate indoor works, aiming to create a space for reflection and introspection to visitors.
Said Ms Tan: “Light to Night is all about showcasing the vibrancy of the district, while celebrating the history of its timeless monuments. Most of the works you’ll be seeing are extremely accessible and interactive, and encourage visitors from all walks of life to come by and engage with. Hopefully, they’ll gain a greater appreciation and awareness of the Civic District, as well as help nurture a greater art-loving community.”
Besides the National Gallery, the Light to Night Festival will also involve The Arts House, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, The Esplanade and the Asian Civilisations Museum as participating precinct partners. With activities held across seven zones, this also makes Light to Night the biggest precinct-wide multidisciplinary arts festival in Singapore.
Personally, one of the big outdoor exhibitions we’re looking forward to is the House of Mirrors by Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney. Held at Empress Lawn, this is the only ticketed event ($2 per entry, available onsite), and will have audiences entering a newly constructed hall of mirrors. One of our favourite types of exhibits at any carnival, this particular version promises a multisensory experience as you wander through the labyrinth and your shadow follows and transforms at every step of the way.
As for the indoor exhibitions, the National Gallery has commissioned a total of five Asian artists to create new works specially for the festival. Said Ms Tan: “These indoor works serve as a link to both the history of the building as well as the works within the building, offering a chance for visitors to reflect on their relation to both past and present.”
One of these works is Ho Tzu Nyen’s One or Several Tigers, a multimedia installation that combines shadow puppetry and 3D animation. The final work in Ho’s series of works related to tigers, this particular project was inspired by images such as Interrupted Road Surveying In Singapore and legends and photographs of supposed were-tigers, incorporating these myths and historical interpretations into a 30-minute video work.
Said Ho: “I wanted to look at different tigers through the history of Singapore and Malaya. At one point, Singapore decided to cull tigers to the point of extinction, but in World War II, the Japanese returning to Singapore in a sense was almost like the return of tigers to Singapore (General Yamashita was known as ‘The Tiger of Malaya”). There was even a comic book named ‘To Tame A Tiger’, taken from a quote by Lee Kuan Yew when asked about the PAP’s method of dealing with communist elements in Singapore.”
Another highlight from the National Gallery is from the incredibly Insta-worthy Japanese art collective teamLAB. Best known for their permanent exhibition FUTURE WORLD at the ArtScience Museum, the team has produced an all new work entitled Walk Walk Walk: Search, Deviate, Reunite for the Light to Night Festival. In this exhibit, visitors will traverse a dark maze while a marching band of humans and animals begin to appear and walk alongside them. Inspired by the Japanese Awa Odori Festival, visitors can even interact with these beings when they touch the wall, causing some of them to change directions and even jump to different walls as brilliant bamboo forests and sakura cherry blossoms spring from the darkness.
Said teamLAB Asia Regional Director Takuya Takei: “When you walk with these characters, you’re embarking on a journey of enlightenment. Walk Walk Walk is about learning with every step you take as you interact with these beings and gaining new perceptions of the world as they immerse themselves in this exhibition.
Besides these exhibitions, expect plenty more around the entire Civic District with extended opening hours from Light to Night’s precinct partners and even live performances ranging from live music, to dramatised readings and poetry recitations. This January, take a walk through the Civic District and watch it in all its illuminated glory, ensuring that your nights will come aglow as they shine bright with good vibes emanating from each and every zone at the 2018 Light to Night Festival.
Light to Night Festival 2018 runs from 19th – 28th January and starts from 5pm till midnight on weekends (Fri & Sat), while visitors can still enjoy the outdoor light art installations from 8pm till 10pm on weekdays (Sun – Thurs). Admission is free. For more information and the full programmes, visit their website here. St Andrew’s Road will be closed during the two weekends on Friday and Saturday from 4pm till 1am.