Arts Review Singapore

Preview: Vel Vel – A Sonic Walk by The Arts House

Screenshot 2021-01-29 at 8.05.16 PM

In celebration of Thaipusam on Thursday, 28th January 2021, The Arts House will be presenting a virtual edition of the festival’s pilgrimage route through a web app. Through an interactive audio-visual-text experience, audiences will be able to discover the cultural significance of this festival.

“Throughout human history, art has provided for our needs, which at times include solace, ritual, and togetherness. With Thaipusam being substantially scaled down this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Arts House felt it was important to create opportunities for the community to come together nonetheless and perhaps reconnect with the festival in different ways” says Rupert Thomson, Head of Artistic Programmes, AHL Venues.

“This digital experience of walking the Thaipusam route will allow listeners to connect with the quieter, more introspective aspects of a pilgrimage, while also staying connected to the sense of community which makes the procession such an integral part of the festival. They will also be able to understand how integral Thaipusam is to Singapore’s identity through monologues written by writers from the Brown Voices Collective that situate the experience of the festival in the personal, and in iconic spaces of central Singapore” says Shridar Mani, Programmer, The Arts House.

The thanksgiving festival is celebrated by the Tamil community to honour Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war. Believers express their appreciation by participating in the processions and seeking blessings from the deity. The pilgrimage route on the web app will cover the historic neighbourhoods of Little India, Selegie and Fort Canning. Presented through a combination of audio recordings of the music, sounds of the locations, along with archival images of Thaipusam over the past five decades, audiences will be able to learn more about the intersection of the rituals with historical locations and significant buildings in Singapore.

In response to both the Thaipusam experience and locations along the pilgrimage route, the young theatre collective, Brown Voices have created five short monologues on the rituals conducted in the locations. Through these monologues, visitors will get a glimpse of how kavadi (sacrifice at every step), milk pots, turmeric, sandalwood feature against the backdrop of the Thaipusam processions. The writers who will be featured are Karthik Somasundaram, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, Mumtaz Maricar, Lewin Bernard and Hashisha Nazir, responding to Perumal Temple, Selegie Point, Dhoby Ghaut, Overhead Bridge at Fort Canning and Thandayuthapani Temple at Tank Road. They also provide the voiceovers for the recordings, directed by Grace Kalaiselvi.

Vel Vel: A Sonic Walk runs from 28th January 2021 to 18th January 2022 at The Arts House. More information available here

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