Arts Preview Singapore University Cultural Centre

Preview: NUS Arts Festival 2021 – A Question of Time

While last year’s edition of the annual NUS Arts Festival fell through due to COVID-19, it seems to have been time well-spent reflecting on…time. That seems to be the case at least, with the 2021 edition of the festival themed A Question of Time.

Running from 19th March to 16th April 2021, at the heart of this year’s festival is the question, “How do you measure and mark Time in your life?” Expect a series of multidisciplinary performances across all genres, fromdance, music, theatre, film, visual to literary arts by over 300 students and academics from National University of Singapore (NUS).

Kaala Chakra (Wheel of Time) by NUS Indian Dance

“The festival this year features the efforts of the NUS arts community to find alternative ways of expressing ideas, emotions and memories through a combination of live and digital modes given the challenges and constraints of living in the midst of a pandemic” says NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) Director, Sharon Tan. “Through close collaborative efforts between student artists, industry practitioners and members of NUS faculties we have attempted to reimagine our physical and virtual spaces, to transport the audience through space and time using the power of imagination.”

Shuttle in Time by NUS Chinese Dance and NUS Drama

NUS Arts Festival 2021: A Question of Time features four live shows, two online shows, two technology-augmented installations, a series of Critical Conversations between artists and academics, an online literary collection of reflections on the theme, and three critically-acclaimed films. Key shows will also be made available online for a limited time during the festival.

Past . Presence . Future . by NUS Dance Ensemble and NUS Electronic Music Lab

The three shows in this year’s festival explore the concepts of objective and subjective time, and how we manipulate time in our past and present to impact our future. Past . Presence . Future . by NUS Dance Ensemble and NUS Electronic Music Lab fuse the art of dance theatre with photography and film to question the accuracy of our memories after a passage of time. Shook by NUS Stage holds a mirror to how youths define our collective futures through their present response to current challenges, and the first work-in progress presentation of Kaala Chakra (Wheel of Time) by NUS Indian Dance follows a philosophical discussion of time through the mediums of dance, visual arts and academic discussion.

Shook by NUS Stage

Other unique events in the festival include In Search of Lost Time, which features 21 intimate micro-performances in spaces represent private spaces within a home. Travel back to WW2 with Shuttle in Time with short performances by NUS Chinese Dance and NUS Drama in a stationary bus which holds a moment in the past still in the present.

In Search of Lost Time

Musings on Time in collaboration with the Department of Communications & New Media, features an online collection of provocations produced in response to the festival theme and shows. The multi-format entries include literary, audio and hypertext contents that lead the explorer down a rabbit-hole of ruminations by the authors.

The festival also explores A Question of Time through two installations A Mo(ve)ment in Time uses technology to bring performances by the 21 CFA Arts Excellence groups to life at a photo exhibition with the augmented reality (AR) app created by students of the NUS School of Computing. Sound Garden created by NUS Alumnus, Neo Kim Seng, with installation design by Space Objekt, brings you to the past when music cassettes and mixtapes were predominantly the ways people enjoyed music. The installation, representing the spool of a cassette tape, prompts the visitor to reflect on the changing consumption of music through the times.

Sound Garden by Neo Kim Seng and Space Objekt

Said Mary Loh, Festival Director of NUS Arts Festival, “This year’s Festival offerings are the result of more than 10 months of hard work by the students, our tutors, staff and faculty members, especially challenged by the fact that they could not know for certain the direction the pandemic would take; whether they could perform live and the number of audience members in a space. Ironically, it was always A Question of Time. Nevertheless, they responded eagerly to the theme, adapted and converted challenge into the chance to do something very different. I hope that this Festival will mark moments in your memory and theirs through little epiphanies.”

Photo Credit: NUS Centre for the Arts

The 2021 NUS Arts Festival runs from 19th March to 16th April 2021. For more information and tickets, visit their website here

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