Running as part of Singapore Art Week, Light to Night Festival makes a return this week with a host of innovative art experiences, in its first ever hybrid edition. Spearheaded by National Gallery Singapore with Civic District partners The Arts House, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, Asian Civilisations Museum, and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, the district-wide festival looks to inspire audiences to forge deeper connections with art in new and engaging ways, and start the new year with hope and positivity under the festival theme of “____-in-Progress.”
Inspired by current events that have redefined normalcy for all, the theme “____-in-Progress” contemplates the journey of progress and change we undertook as we adapt to daily disruptions and move forward in the face of uncertainty. Through the festival’s various art programmes and experiences, “____-in-Progress” invites its participants—audiences and artists alike—to reflect on their own personal journey over the past year, and fill in the blanks with new possibilities and hopes for the future.
Ms. Suenne Megan Tan, Festival Director and Director of Audience Development and Engagement at National Gallery Singapore says: “This year’s festival reflects the commitment of arts and cultural institutions in the Civic District to rally the public together in solidarity following a challenging year. In a new normal where everyone has had to adapt and make progress in the face of uncertainty, we are especially inspired by the resilience and creativity shown by the local arts community in response to the negative repercussions of the pandemic. As audiences engage with the festival line-up and create shared memories together, we hope they are similarly encouraged to move forward with a renewed sense of optimism in the new year.”
Augmented Reality: National Collection Comes Alive
In bringing the theme of “____-in-Progress” to life, the 2021 edition of Light to Night Festival will extend its reach beyond the Civic District for the first time ever through a progressive hybrid format. This new approach will present to audiences an exciting blend of online, offline, and hybrid online-offline programmes, including a series of exciting festival firsts. Watch as paintings in National Gallery Singapore come to life on your mobile with Augmented Reality: National Collection Comes Alive, and even interact with them via Light to Night Festival’s social media channels and the festival microsite. If you’re rushing to meet a friend and got stuck on the MRT, take a deep breath and relax, because Art in Motion presents public art installations by five contemporary visual artists installed aboard the cabins of an SMRT train, each exploring themes of flux, transitions, new beginnings, and of course, our relationship with trains.
Art Skins on Monuments (National Gallery Singapore)
Alongside pilot initiatives premiering in this new edition, Light to Night Festival 2021 is broadening its support for the local arts community through greater collaboration with local artists and the mentorship of art students. This year’s Art Skins on Monuments, where projection mapping technology is used to overlay vibrant, moving images on the facades of the Civic District’s buildings, will see a mentorship programme held in partnership with three local tertiary institutes will see the works of art and design students projected onto the facades of the Asian Civilisations Museum, The Arts House, and the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, alongside open call selection Joanne Ho, whose work (Re)rooting—which was designed using machine learning frameworks—will adorn the entire facade of the Gallery.
There in the Middleness
Audiences are encouraged to physically walk around the Civic District as well, with plenty of encounters with physical art installations to be discovered. On the Padang grounds, look out for Nathan Yong’s There in the Middleness, which draws inspiration from the ancient Greek symbol of the Ouroboros to symbolise hope and healing, along with the timeless, cyclical nature of progression. Comprised of 125 concrete I-beam blocks engraved with uplifting words gathered from the public, the work invites all to discover a sense of renewed hope and peace amid a bustling metropolis. Local talent also takes the spotlight with Gallery Gigs, with online performances from the likes of dance duo Scrachmarcs, hip hop artiste Yung Raja, and filmmaker Victric Thng, as they utilise the empty museum space to create unique performances inspired by the art in the National Collection. Live performances include comedy sets by Fakkah Fuzz, along with a series of music performances by local musicians Shye and Tim De Cotta.
Light to Night Festival 2021 also looks to break down barriers to art through lighthearted initiatives and novel programmes that invite audiences to forge a deeper connection with art. In Decoding the Civic District, audiences are invited to solve a mystery by embarking on a journey to uncover hidden secrets across five iconic cultural institutions, with the opportunity to encounter notable artworks and artifacts along the way. When snapping selfies, check out the Instagram filters by Singaporean tech artist Eugene Soh, as inspired by the works and artistic techniques of Singaporean photographer Tan Lip Seng and woodcut print works found in the National Collection. National Gallery Singapore’s CEO Chong Siak Ching and Gallery Director Eugene Tan star in videos offering up no-holds-barred views on their roles, perspectives, and what drives as part of Ask Away: Gallery Edition, while #Artsplaining features candid conversations between Gallery curators and local personalities such as social media influencer Preetipls and artist-photographer Charmaine Poh, available onsite and online.
Art Skins on Monuments (The Arts House)
In addition to participating in Art Skins on Monuments and Decoding the Civic District game, Civic District partners will be presenting a series of online and onsite programmes that respond to the festival themes of progress and change. The Arts House’s open books: I Want To Go Home draws inspiration from writer and Epigram Fiction Book Prize nominee Wesley Leon Aroozoo’s work I Want To Go Home. In addition to a series of programmes that respond to the festival’s theme, it will present an immersive multi-sensory installation co-curated and designed by Mural Lingo and The Arts House, that touches on the ideas of strength and resilience, and how love may manifest during a crisis.
Art Skins on Monuments (Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall)
Meanwhile, the Asian Civilisations Museum features highlights such as Ways of Seeing by Zarch Collaboratives, an onsite installation that invites visitors to interact with the structure of a giant telescope to view one’s surroundings through new frames, while the Esplanade’s All Things New programme celebrates new music and artists embarking on brand new chapters of their musical journeys.
For even more music, chamber music series VCHPresents by Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall presents a series of online and live music performances by prize winners from the 2019 National Piano and Violin Competition, harp quartet La Vie en Harp and Southeast Asian music groups Orkestra Sri Temasek and Sari-Sari Philippine Kulintang Ensemble, along with online performances by the SNYO Percussion Ensemble and attend webinars on the development of online music performances.
Ms Elaine Ng, Senior Director of Engagement and Participation at the National Arts Council says, “Light to Night’s redefined, hybrid format is very much attuned to Art Week’s theme of ‘Art Takes Over’ where our art encounters transcend physical spaces into virtual realms. With an exciting lineup of interdisciplinary programmes taking place at the Civic District and online, we can look forward to the return of the festival after such a challenging year, to continue enjoying unique arts and culture experiences anytime and anywhere.”
“We’re especially thrilled to support this year’s Light to Night and can’t wait to see how the artists will bring the Civic District back to life as we emerge from a very challenging year. Extending its physical displays to digital experiences, we hope that the enhanced format will allow more Singaporeans to enjoy art, even from afar”, says Mr Fong Yong Kian, Chief Executive of Tote Board—the festival’s Development Partner.