Arts Preview Singapore

Preview: AliWALL Festival by Arts House Limited

Fancy dreaming? Look no further as Arts House Limited (AHL) unveils the inaugural AliWALL Festival, a weekend of participatory art experiences at the Aliwal Arts Centre (AAC). As suggested by the theme for 2022, “The Dreamer”, the Festival seeks to redefine walls, both physical and metaphorical, as canvases to unite artists and audiences to imagine what urban living is, now and for the future.

Curated by independent programmers, MAMA MAGNET, AliWALL Festival 2022: The Dreamer brings together the contrasting worlds of fantasy and reality, both indoors and outdoors to AAC for a weekend-only showcase from the 21st to 23rd January 2022. AliWALL Festival 2022: The Dreamer will unfold in three parts across its premises to draw new imaginations with enthralling activities that seek to uplift and engage its visitors. Guest curator Tulika Ahuja said, “The theme is a response to living in multiple and changing realities in the present time — real and imagined. We are collaborating with a variety of artists and producers, invoking their creativity to visualise and offer new perspectives to urban audiences in Singapore as we make sense of worlds that are constantly changing.”

Organised by AHL and supported by One Kampong Gelam, AliWALL Festival 2022: The Dreamer is part of the 2022 edition of Singapore Art Week (SAW), taking place from 14 to 23 January 2022. The Festival builds itself on the successful formula of AAC’s past two signature events, the Aliwal Urban Art Festival (AUAF) and Aliwal Arts Night Crawl (AANC), as well as the recent AliWALL – The Side Showcase, an online mural competition featuring aspiring artists, into a full-fledged signature event for AAC. The move signals AHL’s intention to rekindle the connection that many artists have with AAC and the Kampong Gelam precinct as the prime centre of Singapore’s urban arts.

Ken Tan, Senior Director of Programming and Producing at AHL elaborates, “We envision the AliWALL Festival to be the signature event for Aliwal Arts Centre from 2022 onwards, centering around the collaborative platforms we have with our resident artists, art companies and precinct stakeholders. The Festival is a way for us to better connect with them and it will also unlock a brand-new community track, welcoming families and youths to appreciate the unique historical elements and heritage of the precinct by presenting an exciting weekend of arts programmes.”

An inspiring line-up of local artists will be showcasing their artworks and skills through the different Festival programmes, located and displayed at the indoor and outdoor spaces of around AAC. Reality in Construction is a participatory outdoor mural that activates the iconic right wall of the AAC building to convey a striking interpretation of the milieu. Spaz (Laurie Maravilla), an urban artist originally from Manila, The Philippines, and homegrown mural artist TraseOne (Sufian Hamri) – both from urban collective, RSCLS, a resident artist collective at AAC – will be joined by visual artists and illustrators Has.J, Kristal Melson and Slacsatu to paint a narrative-driven mural inspired by urban living. Portraying our personal inner worlds and mental faculty, Kristal and Slacsatu hope to turn visitors’ focus inwards, while Spaz and TraseOne will use their stencilling techniques to interpret our shared, communal metropolis. Has.J will be creating a piece themed on our digital lives, inviting the general public to participate in collaboration with the artists. The completed mural will be unveiled during the Festival weekend.

Get ready to be transported to a stimulating and surreal escape as Permission to Dream takes over AAC’s Music Room, offering visitors an immersive, multi-sensory experience featuring an array of fantasy-filled digital art, performances, set designs and sounds that will give one the permission to dream unbound. This dreamy production presents a collaboration between Howie Kim, a visual artist based in Singapore recognised for his visual style and explorations in new media, and stage designer Akbar Syadiq, set against a soundtrack by acclaimed Japanese musician Takashi Kokubo. Visitors will journey through an immersive experience, encountering four-dimensional visuals and improvisational movements by roving performers – Ammar “Ameezy”, Sandhya Suresh, Sonia Kwek and Tysha Khan, to inspire and invigorate the senses. For the four-dimensional element, the audience will be invited to try on different coloured lenses that reveal the many layers of Kim’s surrealistic worlds.

The Courtyard will feature a larger-than-life inflatable sculpture designed by Howie Kim, as an intervention in AAC’S courtyard. Colourful and unexpected, the installation will be further enhanced by an augmented reality filter that can be activated on any smartphone device.

Take part in D’Tour by RSCLS, an alternative walking tour of the street art iconic to present-day Kampong Gelam. Before the pandemic, the immensely popular free tours were fully and even oversubscribed. The stories shared by RSCLS and other artists during the tour juxtapose the neighbourhood’s rich heritage and culture with a parallel history of its edgy graffiti art and murals. AHL will reprise the tour for SAW 2022, bringing audiences to Southeast Asia’s first graffiti Hall of Fame, which was unveiled in April 2021.

Complementing the D’Tour experience of Kampong Gelam are public engagement activities to further enrich visitors’ understanding of street art. There will be a panel conversation via Facebook Live – Street Art and Murals: Beyond Framed Narratives and Cliche, in which RSCLS and various mural artists will come together to discuss select artworks from Singapore and elsewhere, reflecting on the social impact of their art form and practice. Additionally, AHL will also work with RSCLS to extend Mixtape, which they first created for AAC’s Aliwal Tracks programme in January 2021, in which RSCLS will invite members of the public to further contribute to a Mixtape v2.0 Spotify playlist with music and song titles that best describe their connection with graffiti art and murals in the neighbourhood, and with Kampong Gelam in general.

What’s more, look out for Saturday’s Plan, an art market taking place on Saturday between 11am – 9pm. Presented in collaboration with North East Social Club, a counterculture network of creatives, visitors will be able to pick up various prints, zines, stickers, and even get themselves a flash tattoo to always dream.

Ken added, “Through community building and engagement, the AliWALL Festival primarily looks at providing a platform that supports the creation and evolution of the urban arts scene in Singapore. By working with independent curators and creative practitioners from diverse disciplines, we are able to discover more emerging talents and to showcase their work. With many different ways for the public to engage with our programmes, the Festival aims to uplift the precinct as Singapore gradually recovers from the worst of COVID, and to reinforce the position of AAC and Kampong Gelam as the place for urban arts in Singapore.”

AliWALL Festival 2022: The Dreamer runs from 21st to 23rd January 2022. Register here

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