In 2009, France and Singapore signed a historic agreement to enhance cultural cooperation. In the years following, both countries have since benefitted from the agreement, seeing increased cultural exchange from both sides. And this year, celebrating 10 years of cultural cooperation and exchange, the annual Voilah! French Festival Singapore returns once more with an all new lineup of over 20 arts and cultural programmes!
With a focus on innovation in the arts, culture and sciences, the programme will feature new collaborations with various institutions and figures from both Singapore and France, ranging from visual arts, film and music that explore new technologies and techniques, with the aim to leave visitors inspired and emboldened to effect change for the future. Says Festival Director Laurence Lochu: “2018 marks the year of innovation between France and Singapore, and is all about promoting creativity. We want our programme to showcase the link between robots, machines and humanity, and show this through art.”
She continued: “We’re also trying to spread a message about the dangers of climate change and global warming. With programmes like Michel Rawicki’s photo exhibition on the Arctic, we want to remind members of the public about the natural beauty all around us, and how it’ll disappear if we don’t do anything about it.”
Considering how he’s been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2010, and his longtime work bringing in French-themed works with Sing’Theatre and other avenues, it seems only right that Hossan Leong has been named the first Singaporean Patron for French Culture. This year, he’ll be opening the festival on 1st April with a first-time collaborative effort between himself, French artist Jean Lambert-Wild and juggler Martin Palisse, in a performance entitled The Rock’s Clown. In this free, one night only performance, Hossan and his collaborators will quite literally become April fools, and take inspiration from the humble dung beetle paralleling the Greek myth of Sisyphus as they perform around Gardens by the Bay’s Dragonfly Lake.
Throughout the festival, there will be plenty of opportunities to experience French art in its entirety and breadth, ranging from Michel Rawicki’s photo exhibition Touched by the Cold displayed at Gardens by the Bay’s Supertree Grove, to botanist and canopy expert Francis Hallé, showcasing some of his incredible sketches made over the last 50 years documenting the flora and fauna in rainforests and gardens around the world, in an exhibition entitled Botanical Notes held at the Botanical Gardens.
Other exhibitions during the festival include works focusing on science and technology, such as Yves Gellie’s world premiere of Human Version, an exhibition held at Alliance Francaise that explores the relationship between man and robots, as well as Mathieu Briand’s performance exhibition, A-DROYX at the National Design Centre, where over 12 days, the artist will create his very own child-like humanoids, and visitors are encouraged to watch his process from creation to birth. Across Singapore, institutions such as Alliance Francaise also be screening French films brimming with innovation, ranging from comedy Games of Love and Chance (2003), to a series of French animated films such as Persepolis (2007) and Fantastic Planet (1973) over at the Projector.
A selection of exciting music acts will also be descending upon Singapore during the festival to serenade audiences with the sounds of France. Each of these acts makes for a rather different party, with French experimental-pop artiste Charles-Baptiste making his Singapore debut with a free gig at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, while French DJ Stephane Pompougnac and Singapore’s DJ Kaylova team up for the debut of Sofitel’s world-renowned La Nuit cocktail party on 4 May.
With a veritable selection of programmes available for Singaporeans from all walks of life to attend and explore, the continued collaboration between the two countries seems assured. Says Festival Director Laurence Lochu: “We used to bridge the gap by inviting artists from France to work in Singapore and vice versa, but they don’t need us to do that anymore. There are constantly new projects being brought in, and ideas and collaborations being exchanged. Now that we’ve established our foundations, these links will exist forever, and Voilah! is the fruition of that.”
There’s more than a couple of exhibitions and events we’re definitely interested in catching during Voilah!, and you can be sure that we’ll be immersing ourselves fully in French culture this month, as we discover the most innovative works of art and activities that will have us going ‘magnifique!’
Voilah! runs across various venues from 1st April to 5th May. For the full lineup and more information, visit the website here