Arts

Preview: SeptFest 2021 – Alternative Voices by The Substation

After saving themselves from permanent closure back in July, local arts venue The Substation is celebrating their 31st anniversary in the scene with a brand new edition of their signature arts festival SeptFest.

A fully digital programme running from 16th September to 24th October 2021 online, this edition’s theme centres on Alternative Voice(s), platforming artists both veteran and young as they showcase their unique points of view. The programme sees a combination of live dialogues with artists from Asia including Singapore, India and Malaysia, and the restaging of previous live performances as video documentation.

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Wendy Toh

“The intention is for us to relook at these performances with a new lens, understanding where we are today after surviving almost two years of the pandemic, not only for The Substation but the arts landscape in general. We have so much to be grateful for but our need to have the arts alive and thriving in our lives, has become so much more apparent,” said Serene Yap, General Manager at The Substation. 

In its new direction after moving out of 45 Armenian Street, The Substation aims to fulfil its role as a leading incubator of experimental, multidisciplinary and socially-engaged art forms and a long-standing facilitator of critical conversations across diverse audiences and communities in the region. All programmes for SeptFest 2021 will be made available for free on The Substation’s Facebook page.

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Grace Kalaiselvi

“What we need more than anything is a ‘home’, a secure platform to take risks, where the ‘small’ and ‘raw’ are still valued. This is where we come to the question of ‘space’. Where do we move?” asks Raka Maitra, Artistic Director at The Substation. “In reference to bell hooks’ Choosing the Margin as Space of Radical Openness – ‘that at times home is nowhere, then the home is no longer one place, it is locations.’ We are embarking on this journey of exploration. This is when we came up with Alternate Voice(s) as the theme for our 31st anniversary this month. Let us look back before we take a step forward.”

The community and the minds that The Substation nurtured and built over the years cannot be erased easily, and we need to take the time to reflect, as it is this memory that will feed us, drive us forward and keep the spirit alive.

– Raka Maitra, Artistic Director at The Substation

Alternative Voice(s) comprises two components – a screening of four works that were presented previously at 45 Armenian Street; and Sunday Morning Conversations, a series of Facebook Live conversations with artists who give voice to alternative communities in their work and practice. Each conversation invites a special guest to speak alongside an Associate Artist of The Substation’s incubation programme, the Associate Artist Programme (AAP). They will talk and share about their challenges and accomplishments while supporting alternative voices in the community.

Tea Leaves Glowing In The Wind . Photo Credit: AIRISU

From 16th September, videos showcasing the SeptFest 2021: Alternative Voice(s) Opening Video, will be available to watch. This will be followed by the documentation videos of the various performances from the previous SeptFest, including Tea Leaves Glowing In The Wind by Tang Da Wu and Zai Tang, Waltz of the Flower by Caroline Chin and Marvin Acero Ablao, and NADA and ScRach Marcs. The following week, view the documentation video of Subhas Nair and Yanni Chia’s Men with Pens, and learn more about the lived experiences of young men from the ages of 15-19 living in the Whampoa rental flat community, as they share anecdotal accounts from their aspirations in life to encounters with the police, connections to place, and stories of growing up. 

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Subhas Nair

In Sunday Morning Conversations, hear from artists who give voice to alternative communities in their work and practice. Each conversation invites a special guest to speak alongside an Associate Artist of The Substation’s incubation programme, the Associate Artist Programme (AAP), as they share about their challenges and accomplishments while supporting alternative voices in the community. Featured artists include Sankar Venkateswaran (India) and Grace Kalaiselvi (The Substation Associate Artist 2021-22), Conversation with Aida Redza (Penang) and Wendy Toh (The Substation Associate Artist 2021-22), Anomaa Rajakaruna (Sri Lanka), The Migrant Band (Singapore) and Subhas Nair (The Substation Associate Artist 2021-22),

SeptFest 2021: Alternative Voice(s) runs online from 16th September to 24th October 2021. Full programme lineup and more information available here

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