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[Press Release] THESE STORIED WALLS At Textures 2020, A Celebration of Singapore Literature at The Arts House
Singapore, 4 February 2020 — From 13 to 22 March, The Arts House will present Textures: A Weekend with Words as part of its efforts to build the national literary arts centre. Returning for its third edition with the theme “These Storied Walls”, the signature annual literary arts festival is inspired by The Arts House’s many identities. From a Scotsman’s planned estate to a courthouse, assembly house, our nation’s first parliament, and now Singapore’s literary arts centre, the walls of The Arts House have been etched with many stories; imagine the fantastical tales they would tell if they could speak to us. In this celebration of local narratives, Singapore’s writers, artists, and performers will come together to create more stories for the walls to tell, dovetailing The Arts House’s past as a heritage site and its present as Singapore’s home for local literature.
Co-commissioned by The Arts House and #BuySingLit, and supported by National Arts Council, this year’s edition features an array of interactive elements that animate Singapore literature throughout the house. VR experiences, audio-visual exhibitions, and interactive installations will have you getting up close and personal with storytellers and stories both real and mythical. Listen, feel, and look closely — only then will the tales unveil themselves to you. In the spirit of making art accessible, most of the programmes are free to attend for everyone to come down and enjoy a weekend of words with us.
Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited (AHL), shares: “In the last 3 years, The Arts House continues to fulfil one of its key mandates to grow Singapore’s literary arts centre – where literature and its community continue to be celebrated. In this third edition, the festival is led by Lisa Lip, Senior Manager of Programmes and Producer for Textures, and supported by a brilliant team at AHL. For this year, Textures takes on the theme ‘These Storied Walls’, and through a marriage of technology and storytelling, infuses a new sense of energy into The Arts House – an important landmark in the Civic District. Through Textures, we hope to invite readers to be part of the intricately woven tapestry and collectively, strengthen the fabric of our literary landscape”.
Lisa Lip adds: “As our annual festival celebrating Singapore literature, we wanted this edition of Textures to be more immersive by reimagining how visitors can engage and interact with literature beyond adaptive performances. As such, this year’s programming features more installations and participatory activities that require visitors to go a step further — move a bit closer, look a little longer — to get the most out of the experience. The theme ‘These Storied Walls’ reminds us of The Arts House as a heritage building, but more importantly it also alludes to a sense of uncovering the undiscovered. Also, having to listen closely to others as well as ourselves to discover the complex layers behind the works of our authors and artists”.
Discover in Deeper Ways
The Arts House Lawn will play host to two spectacular installations that add another dimension to the fictional worlds created by local illustrators Drewscape and Troy Chin. The illustrator behind popular children’s series Sherlock Sam, Drewscape’s world will be brought to life in a giant lenticular cube that children can enter and explore from within. Surprises can also be found in the form of QR codes embedded in In Universe — the accidental collision of different universes of Troy Chin’s work caused by one of his characters, Phoebe Su. Follow the digital trail through the back of each portal to unravel this curious chaos!
A little exploration might also reveal hidden nooks like House of Cheah. Recreating the studio of local comic artist Cheah Sin Ann who created Singapore’s first English language daily cartoon strip The House of Lim, visitors will get to step into his “office” and see some of his best work displayed around the room. Soak in the atmosphere of his creative space and get the chance to catch him in action or in conversation.
In another corner of The Arts House, you’ll be treated to some Sorta Scary Singapore Stories, a VR installation by Tusitala in collaboration with four local illustrators who have created 360° digital illustrations interpreting extracts of four local horror stories. View the illustrations through VR headsets and listen to the audio recordings of them — the closer you listen, the more details from the stories you’ll recognise in the illustrations. Over the weekend, you can also catch Tusitala’s Christine Chong together with Sing Lit Station’s Charlene Shepherdson and writer Troy Chin in Digital Sing Lit for a discussion on how we can use digital platforms to change the way we experience literature.
Placing a technological spin on supernatural stories is master storyteller Kamini Ramachandran alongside interdisciplinary sound artist FERRY. Ride the O/Aural Waves — Spirited Words in an experiential installation exploring the superstitious within the realms of religion, culture, and spirituality. During the day, the installation will feature storytellers recounting tales in the four national languages. In the evening, Ramachandran herself will tell the stories live accompanied by FERRsingY’s live foley where audiences can create and add their own sounds to the soundscape, joining the artists in the storytelling process.
The Word Around the House
If you're looking for a literary pick-me-up, an appointment at our Book Clinic should do the trick. Whether you’re feeling the weight of your existential angst or drowning in post-breakup blues, some of our local writers and publishers will be there to lend you a listening ear as “book doctors” who will prescribe a Sing Lit book to match your mood. Pick up your prescription just around the corner at the #BuySingLit Book Bazaar featuring your favourite local publishers, and then drop some fan mail off at our Dear Author mailbox to thank the author for the many sleepless nights they’ve spent to soothe your spirit—delivered by us!
As you wander around, you might hear some murmurings in the Film Gallery compelling you to ask “Say What Ah?” In this installation by Our Monster Tongues, put your ears up against the walls of The Arts House as voices from the literary community read you their favourite passages of Sing Lit and whisper secrets of the trade. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch and eavesdrop on a pair of roving performers in a crosstalk style 《相聲》 conversation inspired by Felix Cheong’s popular humour series Singapore Siu Dai. The hilarious musings of the Cross-Talk Siu Dai Pop Ups will crack you up and warm your hearts like a good cup of kopi.
Listen, and Literature Will Come Alive
The traditional melodies of BronzAge Gamelan will set the stage in Panggilan Pulau (An Island’s Call). Inspired by selected poems from Annaliza Bakri’s bilingual anthology Sikit-Sikit Lama-Lama Jadi Bukit, let the sounds of gamelan take you through the fraught journey that some took transitioning from rural to urban spaces. Follow the strains of gamelan back to the rural village of Kukim with The Village Idiot–A Wayang Kulit Performance. An adaptation of Catherine Lim’s short story of the same name, BronzAge Gamelan’s second live performance will be the accompaniment to this story told through the traditional Javanese shadow-puppet form of wayang kulit. On the other hand, Nazry Bahwari takes on a more conceptual mood in Rasa Sarang (라사 사랑) The Translator's Dilemma, a lecture-performance based on his translation of Mohammed Latiff Mohamed’s short story K-Love where modern relationships still risk being lost in translation, both literally and metaphorically.
Energies run high in performance series Goddesses of Words which returns with Angry Indian Women, an incisive double-bill theatre performance by Grace Kalaiselvi, Pramila Krishnasamy, Mumtaz Maricar, and A Yagnya. Gnawing at the seams of identity politics through the voices of a frustrated minority, these actresses respond to poems by Pooja Nansi and Deborah Emmanuel in what promises to be a fiercely unapologetic showcase.
Marc Nair’s Handbook of Daily Movement weaves together various disciplines in an intriguing combination of music, spoken word, and movement. Reinterpreting Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this performance choreographed by Sudhee Liao with music by Mantravine crunches psychology into physical expression as dancers explore our modern motivations and anxieties. Also listen as they peel back the layers of their work in a combined film screening of the dance film of the same name and panel discussion.
The third edition of our poetry in music series Sollum Swaramum — சொல்லும் ஸ்வரமும takes a contemporary turn as poems are read aloud alongside classic songs from Tamil cinema of the 1930s to the present. Featuring Harini V, Alahappan Meyappan, and Ayilisha Manthira, listen to these local poets read poems of their own as well as works by other Singaporean poets.
Up-and-coming literary groups Kelana Pantun Temasek (KPT) and MatterLess (所谓诗社) will also be presenting poetry in two dynamic stages. A pantun performance by the youths from KPT, Penghulu Di Kota Batu retells Suratman Markasan‘s story of Pak Suleh and Mak Timun who were forced to relocate from their beloved island of Pulau Sebidang to a modern HDB estate. In re:VERSE 4.0, MatterLess’ dramatised poetry reading takes a trip through the inter-translated and multilingual as their verses undulate in both English and Mandarin.
Let’s Get in Conversation
Join authors and artists in conversation through workshops, talks and panel discussions. Meet the author of Kite in the Evening Sky in Talk with Mr Shaik Kadir as he discusses how personal stories and autobiographies can carve out a space for memories amidst Singapore’s changing landscape. In《一段旅程，一段故事》 Story of A Journey, Chinese travel writers share their experience of documenting their adventures abroad and the fascination with stories that depict travelling. Finally, transcend the boundaries of genre with the help of local authors Desmond Kon, Gwee Li Sui, and Yeow Kai Chai in their panel discussion Crossing Writing Genres: The Demands of Craft.
Things get a little more personal in the workshop, Contemplating Mortality: Writing About Illness & Death. Author of the quasi-memoir The Good Day I Died, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé guides you on a writing journey through the range of emotions that surface in the universal experiences of death and illness. As you unearth personal stories of your own, take notes from filmmaker and bilingual writer Saleem Hadi in Creating Characters — Tamil Writing Workshop, which will give aspiring writers the tools to create interesting and authentic characters for both stage and film.
Hands-On Family Fun
This school holidays, get the whole family involved in fun for the little ones with a variety of kids’ programmes that bring worlds of stories to life. Giving children a glimpse into the past, Adventures of a Kampung Boy takes us back to simpler times in this story about a kampung boy named Kadir, an adaptation of Shaik Kadir’s memoir. Let your children experience your childhood as they learn about old-fashioned games and Malay traditions like ketupat-making in this participatory performance by BronzAge Gamelan.
Kids can have fun recreating the past by dressing up in costumes representing 1950s Chinatown in The Story of the Redscarf 《辛苦了，红头巾》(Chinese storytelling for Kids), a storytelling session that will have illustrator and author Patrick Yee captivating children with his latest picture book. Parents can join in the fun too in Patrick Yee’s Magical World of Illustration, a hands-on workshop where parents and children can create and draw their own books together. Yee will also share tips on drawing and how he created his truly magical world of characters.
For the complete list of programmes for Textures 2020, please refer to the accompanying programme booklet. More information is also available at https://www.theartshouse.sg/programmes/textures2020. Members of the public can also join the conversation at www.facebook.com/theartshouse and www.instagram.com/theartshouse.
Textures: A Weekend with Words
Venue: The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
Dates: 13 to 22 March 2020
Time: 10am – 10pm
Admission to the festival grounds is free. All programmes are free unless otherwise stated.
For more information, please contact:
About The Arts House
Occupying the almost 200-year-old building that was home to Singapore’s first parliament, The Arts House continues in the distinguished tradition of this gazetted national monument and now plays a key role in the country's arts and creative scene. The Arts House at the Old Parliament, as it is affectionately referred to, promotes and presents multidisciplinary programmes and festivals within its elegant spaces. It focuses in particular on the literary arts, celebrating the works of written and spoken word artists from Singapore and beyond.
The Arts House is run and managed by Arts House Limited. For more information, visit www.theartshouse.sg.
About Arts House Limited
Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL runs The Arts House, a multidisciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming located in the heart of Singapore's Civic District; manages Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses; and presents festivals through the arts centres. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performing arts in Singapore commissioned by National Arts Council.
AHL was set up in 11 December 2002 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) under NAC and was formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House Limited on 19 March 2014.