Take a walk with us through the 14th edition of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival as it returns from 17 to 28 January 2018!
After 13 successful editions of the festival’s thematic concept of “Art & ____”, the Fringe will move in a new direction with festival instalments themed around iconic Singaporean artists and their signature works. The 2018 theme Let’s Walk comes from the title of a series of street performances by eminent Singaporean contemporary artist Amanda Heng.
LET’S WALK BY AMANDA HENG
One of a series of walking performances that Amanda Heng has created over the years, Let’s Walk invites audiences to think about the beauty business and the lack of progress for women in society. The work was created in response to the 1997 Asian financial crisis when female employees were the first to get retrenched. Peculiarly, the beauty industry experienced a boom at the same time as women began turning to beauty and cosmetic treatments to enhance their looks in an effort to keep their jobs. Troubled by this trend, Heng designed and carried out walks in response in 1999. She invited members of the public to join her in walking backwards along the streets with high-heeled shoes in their mouths, while guiding themselves with handheld mirrors.
As with other years, the festival will present works across five categories: Fringe Highlights, Live Fringe, Fringe Gallery, Fresh Fringe and Fringe Conjunction. The 2018 edition of the Fringe will feature works that build on, highlight and respond to the many important questions and ideas that Let’s Walk evokes such as gender, beauty and identity. 2018 will also see a push towards greater outreach and accessibility, including featured productions that have great appeal to students and adult audiences alike, as well as a much anticipated collaboration with Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), an institution that the Fringe will be working with for the first time. Amanda Heng will also be conducting a workshop with art and design students as a further development of her
walking series, and inviting members of the public for a walk with her during the festival period.
BATTLING SOCIETAL INFLUENCES AND PRESSURES
Societal influences and the pressure to meet pre-determined expectations and conform to gendered norms take centre stage in many of the festival’s works. The Immortal Sole by Edith Podesta is a dance theatre work that examines the concepts of beauty, inequality, and the perceptions of traditional women’s roles, through the retelling of the famous fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. Pink Gajah Theatre’s Hayat sees a woman on the verge of her twilight years exploring her own mortality, after a life of abiding to the pressures of a patriarchal world demanding that she
be a picture-perfect successful woman. Israeli choreographer Emanuella Amichai presents The Neighbor’s Grief is Greener, a performance rooted in testing and critiquing the classic stereotypes of the “ideal woman” as they appeared in the 1950s through different mass media.
REDEFINING IDENTITY AND INDIVIDUALITY
Our internal struggles with identity and individuality are also sources of inspiration for many of the festival’s works in 2018. One such work is Displaced, a powerful play by Canadian theatre company Ground Cover Theatre that follows the stories of three immigrants seeking refuge in Canada during different points in history, and their struggles to assimilate to a new life whilst preserving their cultural identities. Local artist Jo Tan’s first full-length play for adults, Forked, invites us to discover who we are without the masks we wear every day, and seeks to find an
answer to the perennial question of what a true Singaporean voice is.
QUESTIONING PERFECTION AND THE PATRIARCHAL GAZE
The complications of the female form are vital talking points in many works, particularly given that aesthetic beauty in the female body is overly emphasised today. An exuberant feminist work, If there’s not dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming by New Zealand artist Julia Croft playfully dismantles pop culture tropes that portray women as spectacle. Step Outta Line by Thong Pei Qin and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts draws from local author Ovidia Yu’s works, and features an army of quirky characters that attempt to subvert societal norms which conspire to keep them in line. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Madeleine George and produced by Australia’s Mitchell Productions Inc. and Chopt Logic Productions, The Most Massive Woman Wins is a funny and brutally honest social commentary featuring four female characters awaiting liposuction surgery and sharing about the relentless female quest for perfection—using the unconventional setting of a mud-pit. All In Her Day’s Work by Singapore photographer Charmaine Poh is a photographic series that explores the visual culture surrounding professions that emphasise
heavily on the beauty industry in Singapore.
Finally, a major highlight of the festival will be the re-examination of Let’s Walk by Amanda Heng. Heng will conduct workshops with students, and invite members of the public to join her for a walk in Revisiting Let’s Walk. For the first time, the Fringe will also have a work falling outside of its 12-day calendar, in the form of Heng’s exhibition A Walked Line Can Never Be Erased at Objectifs in May 2018.
So put on your most comfortable shoes and prepare to make your way through this amazing lineup of works responding to Let’s Walk. Do join our online conversations about the Fringe with the hashtag #M1SFF on various social media platforms as well. The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2018 invites you on an eye-opening journey from 17 to 28 January 2018 at various venues.
The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival is an annual festival of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and mixed media created and presented by Singaporeans and international artists. Themed differently each year, the festival aims to bring the best of contemporary, cutting-edge and socially engaged works to the Singapore audience.
The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival is set to be a creative centre, with the twin purpose of innovation and discussion, a platform for meaningful and provocative art to engage our increasingly connected and complex world.