We need more international blockbuster shows, local art superstars and hype to take our visual art scene to the next level.

On the surface, our local visual arts scene seems to have most things down pat. Our local museums are some of the most active in the region (if not the world), with the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) putting on an average of 10 mid-sized shows and one blockbuster show annually; there are a slew of major international art fairs and exciting exhibitions like the Singapore Biennale 2011, Art Stage Singapore and Affordable Art Fair coming up over the next couple of months (see page 8 for full lineup), we have an abundance of commercial art spaces that are doing fairly well with some fantastic periodic exhibitions like the Art Beyond Limits show at Opera Gallery featuring original of-the-moment works by international art stars like Mr. Brainwash (who’s being touted as the new street art star after Banksy) and Damien Hirst; heck we even have quite a few underground indie art spaces in the mix. So just what are we not doing right?
In a crowded and competitive scene such as ours, perhaps it is not enough just to have a few good shows taking place periodically. We need to have big blockbuster shows on a more regular basis to build a more sustained hype and buzz for the scene. For the recent Artists’ Editions for PARKETT show which took place in May at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI), for example, and featured works by international art stars such as Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Maurizio Cattelan and Richard Prince—the gallery reported a record 12,000 visitors, “the highest number of visitors for a summer exhibition in the history of STPI,” according to its curator Nor Jumaiyah. “Though the show was a very unconventional format featuring contemporary artists’ editions as interactive sound pieces, installations, videos and objects, the numbers are indicative of the appetite for more interesting contemporary artworks.”

Which is why we welcome blockbuster international art events like Art Stage, which will take place at the Marina Bay Sands in January next year under the artistic direction of fair director Lorenzo Rudolf, who previously helmed Art Miami and Art Basel. One of the highlights will be the photographic artworks by American photographer David LaChapelle (see main picture above) which will certainly draw not just regular artgoers, but trendsetters, design students, fashion followers, photographers and even curious passersby with its striking yet accessible images. “The arts scenes in Europe and the US are more open and function as an integrated community; while Asia might be developing very fast, the market remains fragmented with many individuals doing their own things, especially in Japan, Australia and much of Southeast Asia,” says Rudolf. “Singapore especially, is still conservative and a bit hesitant compared to cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai or even Jakarta. The local market has to be opened up and brought together, and this is only possible through top international art fairs like Art Stage. During my tenure at Art Basel for example, the fair transformed from what had been a normal trade show into a template of what art fairs are today, which includes sponsorships, special marketing initiatives targeted at VIPs, and of course, lots of glitz and glamour with social events built around the fair. With globalization, the art world should become a lifestyle.”

Learn more about the city's most interesting and promising visual artists and arts collectives.

The upcoming Singapore Biennale will be the next big art event to look out for, although compared to the last two editions which featured more well known names like Jenny Holzer and Shigeru Ban, the 2011 edition seems a tad tepid and obscure with no major artists headlining.

“There is no one common thread that runs through the selected artists for the Biennale show,” says Tan Boon Hui, director of the SAM, which is organizing the Biennale. “Instead, there will be an eclectic mix of artists and works that the curatorial team, led by Matthew Ngui, hopes will engage the public on a much broader level. When selecting artists, they are interested in looking at the entire process of art-making; from sowing the seeds of thought, to negotiations with the curatorial team, to the artists’ own research and practice and the use of the spaces available; the curatorial intention is to assist the artists in pushing boundaries and in germinating ideas.”

While we’re all for generating and building more new content for the local art scene, we wonder if such a curatorial process might actually inspire further insularity among our artists, artsgoers and the art scene overall. After all, to create a more sustained and tangible scene, it is as important to appeal and cater to the masses as it is to assist the artist. One of the other alternatives might then be for us to build more local art superstars whom we can call our own from the ground level up. See previous page for a list of our most interesting artists. Some, including art-design collective :Phunk Studio, multi-disciplinary artists Ming Wong and Zai Kuning, and performance artist Lee Wen, are already lauded in their various fields in cities such as Venice, New York and Berlin. But they are few and far between and remain mostly on the periphery of a segmented or targeted art market and out of the (local) mainstream scene. Hands up if you’ve actually heard of Lee Wen, a Cultural Medallion recipient who’s well regarded for his Yellow Man performance works—thought so.

Save the date: Check out the city's best ongoing and upcoming art shows.

“Hype is manufactured by the media and market, but it’s a concrete manifestation of the things happening on the ground,” says Mayo Uno Martin, arts reporter for TODAY. “You can’t create excitement out of nothing, but you can magnify. The allure of contemporary Chinese art is not just about the art per se but everything that surrounds it. Even Jap art star Takashi Murakami’s Superflat works came at a time when there was a growing obsession with Japanese pop culture,” he adds.

So perhaps generating more buzz for our local visual artists and championing them on the same pedestal as bigger international art stars might just be the next big step forwards. “I think there are really good Singaporean artists, but they can only grow if they’re put in competition with the rest of the international artists and not overly protected,” says Art Stage’s Lorenzo Rudolf. “Singapore has artists who absolutely have the talent to go onto the international level, but the city also has to open doors for international artists and galleries to bring them into a dialogue. Singapore has a habit of over-protecting its artists, and I don’t think that it helps them in the long run.”




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Strike out on your own, with customized kit.

It happens to the best of us. You’re at a party and you spot another dude on the dancefloor wearing the exact same T-shirt or pair of sneakers as you. It’s too late to head home and change clothes because the party has already started and you’d miss out on all the fun. So do yourself a favor and get yourself some customized sneakers or accessory before you head out next time. That way, you can stand out from the crowd and make new friends (customized goodies always generate interesting party conversations) while you’re at it. We clue you in on where to get in on the one-off action—from sneakers and jewelry to jeans and even home décor.

Royalefam’s creative director and designer Mark Ong aka SBTG needs no introduction. His customized sneakers have been highly sought after by international artistes and scenesters including James Lavelle, Q-tip and Kobe Bryant, and his 2006 collaboration with Nike on the one-off SBTG SB Dunk project was sold out within an hour. Since then, Ong has been invited to commission designs for other brands including DC shoes and New Balance, and even customizes signboards today. “We accept most jobs if it excites both parties and if it falls within our aesthetic radar and values,” says Ong. “We will not accept a job that we can’t take ownership of as we believe that we have to base our work on truth and honesty. For example, we will not accept a job if the client requests for his pet to be painted on!” he quips. For US$500-750, you can get your hands on a pair of sneakers which take between three days and three weeks to customize; or if you feel like splurging, go for the exclusive 1-of-1 custom orders range featuring more exclusive designs which cost US$700-1,000. Yes, it pays to look this good.

The multimedia art experiment Mojoko, headed by creative director Steve Lawler, whose portfolio includes the cult Colors magazine and international brands like Red Cross, Benetton, Diesel, Nokia, Tiger and Feiyue, specializes in all things customized. From jeans and T-shirts to digital print artworks and even lamps and vases, the company “prides itself on creating unique powerful graphics which blend modern pop culture with historic Asian heritage,” says Lawler. “But our main focus is to recycle used clothing and give it a new lease of life. Our ‘denim renovation’ line, for example, has been a great success so far with people sending jeans or other items to be revitalized with Mojoko’s bold, often quirky prints.” Indeed, it is Mojoko’s eye-catching prints, which meld kitsch Asian pop culture elements with more modern street sensibilities, that make their work such a hit. Highlights from the crew recently include the Mojoko customized vases ($48), Star Wars-inspired lamp ($250) and limited-edition numbered silkscreens ($250)—all which will certainly add a new lease of life to any living space. “I approach most projects with a sense of humor and a desire to create something genuinely new and interesting. People are beginning to demand products which are not simply off the racks, and I’ve had requests to customize suits, artwork, walls, furniture and even life jackets, so there is definitely a growing market for this. People are always looking for something different to reflect their personalities.”

More Than Art to Wear
Relative newcomers More Than Art to Wear are a design collective who will customize everything and anything from sneakers and jeans to T-shirts and caps. “The process of customization starts with a blank canvas; and, in our case, mostly a pair of plain sneakers,” says designer Tan Yuhui. “We communicate closely with our customers to gather specific details such as their feet size, preference for sneakers’ model, theme, design and color. Thereafter we will do up a draft drawing for their approval. Once the customer is pleased with it, the actual design work will commence, which may take between three weeks to a month to complete.” Get your fix of the crew’s hip designs (we especially dig the Nike Air Force 1 “Dynasty Treasure” pair, see picture above) from $250-400, and more generic ranges from $200 which can be ordered from the website.

More Than Diamonds
Jewelry stalwart More Than Diamonds has been around since 1946, but the brand recently took a hipper turn when younger designers Chris Lim and Sara Ooi joined the team, focusing on customized jewelry, particularly wedding rings and specially-cut diamonds available from $280 onwards. “My grandfather started the business and my parents have been running it for more than 20 years,” says Lim. “Even though I pretty much grew up in my parent’s jewelry shop, I was never interested in their business. I started my own graphic design practice, and after a few years, I realized that I could combine my creativity with the family business.” Indeed, it is Lim’s edgier design background which results in some of the rings’ more contemporary designs, such as the Solitaire ring range. “Every person is different, each relationship different,” says Lim. “So why would you want your wedding or engagement rings to look like everybody else’s?”


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Tired of staple shirts and pants? These local menswear labels will keep the guys ahead of the style curve.

Preferring lean silhouettes over experimentation, Antebellum designer Chia Wei Choong’s latest collection, Axiom, reworks classic menswear styles to sporty effect. Look out for pieces that reference soccer jerseys, sharpened with high performance fit-lines, as well as more suggestive tone-on-tone colors with topstitched details that mirror the lines of the athletic male form to set the heart racing.
Available from Front Row, #02-08/09 Raffles Hotel Arcade,
328 North Bridge Rd., 6224-5501

Playing with versatile zipper functions and detailing, the designers behind Bedlamite—Terry Yeo and Joe Kee—have come up with trendy reversible shirts to go with the theme “Schizophrenia: Split Personality.” But there’s nothing schizophrenic about the collection—the pieces are consistently well-made, especially the checkered shirts that draw elements from more established labels like Comme des GarÇons.
Available from Parco next NEXT, #P2-31 Parco, Millenia Walk,
9 Raffles Blvd., 6595-9118.

For something a little bit safer, try Coupe-Couso by Xie Shangqian and Alex Yeo. Inspired by urban travelers working in concrete jungles (read: PMEBs), the duo use specially-dyed Japanese fabrics in muted colors of khaki, camel, indigo, brown and camouflage to create cool staples with a rugged sensibility and a hint of romanticism that will take you through day to night.
Available from Parco next NEXT, #P2-31 Parco, Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Blvd., 6595-9118.

One for the cutting-edge crowd, the always innovative Tan Qiuwen has come up with yet another inspired collection. Drawing influences from British Indian Army troops (but with a twist), Tan presents eye-catching pieces like the cotton twill jodhpurs with curved saddle bag seam lines and pop-out pockets, and oversized over-shirts with utilitarian details such as drawstring elastic ropes and workman pockets on the sleeves (very nice). It’s Tan’s always acute sensitivity to the unpredictable that has kept her designs so interesting since starting out in 2007.
Available from Front Row, #02-08/09 Raffles Hotel Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd., 6224-5501.

If you’re a fan of Nordic fashion (think clean, minimal design with dashes of cute details), the fairly new local label Sunday by Larry Lam will do the trick. Inspired by the Nordic way of life (think Arctic winds, mountain and valleys), Lam has come up with a very wearable range of vests, sweaters and T-shirts in subtle hues of white, grey and blue—whoever says you need to be loud to look this cool?
Available from Parco next NEXT, #P2-31 Parco, Millenia Walk,
9 Raffles Blvd., 6595-9118; and Beluga, #02-05 The Cathay, 2 Handy Rd., 6735-3573.

Also very wearable is WanderWonder, which takes on more traditional menswear shapes and designs in the form of functional and evergreen shirts, pants and T-shirts that you’ll want to wear time and again. Simple lines and cuts, playing with a different mix of fabrics from cotton to polyester, make this essential for the modern man on the go.
Available from Blackmarket, 19 Jalan Pisang, 6296-8512.


Channeling American literature of the 50 and 60s from the likes of Robert Frank & Alfred Leslie, specifically from the short film Pull My Daisy, the always leftfield Jonathan Seow (Woods & Woods) brings forth work-shirts, Henley-style inspired knit-tops, dockers-styled trousers and bermudas, and parka-jackets through his diffusion label W/A. There is a dash of cerebral quality in these pieces that are sure to be a hit among the thinking fashion set.
Available from Front Row, #02-08/09 Raffles Hotel Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd., 6224-5501.


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He ain’t heavy, he’s a freeloader

First, let me say this: I’m a simple guy with simple needs. Give me a kopi-o-kosong and I’ll be happy for a couple of hours. But when you’re an editor for a lifestyle magazine and get (mostly unsolicited) gifts thrown at you every now and then for whatever reason (mainly for publicity purposes), your vision of the world gets distorted a little bit. After all, a free cup of espresso from a newly opened boutique café is not quite the same as the 60 cents version that you actually have to pay for from a rundown local mama store, now is it?

Terry Ong
Issue Date: 
2010 Oct 28 - 23:00

First, let me say this: I’m a simple guy with simple needs. Give me a kopi-o-kosong and I’ll be happy for a couple of hours.

The Town

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Ben Affleck
Rebecca Hall
Jeremy Renner
Jon Hamm
Blake Lively
Pete Postlethwaite
Directed By: 
Ben Affleck

A word of advice for Ben Affleck: Quit acting, and concentrate on directing. After the success of his gritty crime drama Gone Baby Gone in 2007, Affleck heads to the streets of Charlestown (which apparently reports the highest bank heist rates in the world) for The Town—a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable film adapted from Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves.Affleck casts himself as Doug MacRay, the leader of a group of bank robbers along with his lifelong buddy James (the always brilliant Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker).

Opening Date: 
Wed, 2010-10-27
Terry Ong

The Social Network

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Jesse Eisenberg
Andrew Garfield
Armie Hammer
Justin Timberlake
Directed By: 
David Fincher

Ex-MTV stalwart David Fincher (Zodiac, Se7en) goes back to his frat boy roots with this spiffily-edited, entertaining yet thoughtful buddy drama about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Unless you’ve been living under a rock reading first edition books and disconnected from the rest of the (real) world, you’ve most probably heard of Facebook—the biggest social networking site in the world with over 500 million members (“Facebook me” is our common buzz phase too)—and its impact on the way the modern world communicates.

Opening Date: 
Wed, 2010-10-27
Terry Ong
To celebrate our 15th birthday, we rallied some of the city’s most prominent and outspoken movers and shakers for a little reality check.

In our 15 years covering the scene in Singapore, the city has changed almost beyond recognition. It’d be hard to overstate just how much we love the place right now. But that’s not to say it’s perfect, and few people know that better than the folks out there pushing the creative boundaries. To take the nation’s pulse, we sat down with some of the city’s most prominent industry players—social and lifestyle entrepreneurs Elim Chew (77th Street), Chris Lee (Asylum) and Christopher John Fussner (Sifr); acclaimed filmmakers Royston Tan (15) and Eric Khoo (My Magic); award-winning playwright Alfian Sa’at (Corridor); author-musician X’ho (Skew Me You Rebel Meh?); comedian Irene Ang (Fly Entertainment); and PR specialist Tracy Phillips (Present Purpose)—for a frank and honest discussion about the state we’re all in.

Who has the best job in Singapore these days?
Elim Chew: I think the president has a wonderful job. Generally, the person who is able to do what they want to do, waking up when they want to wake up, and managing their own timeline and perhaps being able to go on a sabbatical for six months [laughs]—that person has the best job, even if it’s the toughest.
Eric Khoo: The president—definitely.
X’ho: State Ministers.
Christopher John Fussner: Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
Irene Ang: I think taxi drivers have the best job. Their time is flexible, they know where to get the best food, they hear the juiciest stories and always have an audience when they want to tell their stories! You cannot run or jump out of the car when they are talking!

I-S 15th Anniversary Round Table Discussion from IS Video on Vimeo.

State of Singapore discussion. Participants: Elim Chew, Tracy Phillips, Royston Tan, Alfian Sa'at and Chris Lee.
Moderated by Terry Ong, I-S Associate Editor. Hosted at The White Rabbit.

Who has the crappiest job then?
Alfian Sa’at: Journalists. I wouldn’t want to be in their position ...especially if you’re kind of independent minded and have opinions of your own, [given] the kind of compromises that you have to make along the way and the kind of editorial contortions that you have to put up with.
Chris Lee: I have a very mainstream view about life, especially about the immigrants who built this city; and how we still don’t want them to live near us, and how we think that having their quarters near our homes devalues our land, which is really sad. They probably have the crappiest job.
Irene Ang: Yeah, just look at the jobs that Singaporeans don’t pick up!
Eric Khoo: The hangman, because he literally gets peanuts for the executions and there is so much work involved like calculating the drop, the length of rope and the weight of the condemned. And it could be a bloody mess if done wrong. And I don’t fancy killing.
X’ho: Maids and cab drivers.
Christopher John Fussner: The Courtesy Lion.
Royston Tan: Filmmakers have the crappiest job. We’re all unemployed!

Is it just us, or is the city getting way too expensive?
Elim Chew: For someone like me who started a business in the past; I used to pay single digits for per sq. ft., but rental today is $40-50 per sq. ft. It’s now three times the price, but one third the size…
Tracy Phillips: It’s true. Singapore is even more expensive now than New York, which is ridiculous. Per sq. ft., we are now triple the price of downtown Manhattan.
Irene Ang: If I were to tell my late grandmother how much I pay for parking and ERP these days, I think she [would] faint...
Alfian Sa’at: A very peculiar thing about Singapore is that it’s a city state, but at the same time, it’s also a heartland. The kind of tension that we have which exists when the idea of the suburb and city is mixed together might have indirectly influenced the state of things now…
Royston Tan: Which is why I suggest that the government bring down the GST back to three percent. If one day, if we could only get all the decision makers to stay in a HDB flat, take public transport and experience what normal people go through … they’d really understand how expensive this city is.
Christopher John Fussner: That said, a 60-cent kopi here is still more do-able than an eight dollar latte elsewhere…

Is it because we’re over-ambitious? Does Singapore take itself way too seriously?
Alfian Sa’at: I remember (ex-Prime Minister) Goh Chok Tong once saying that “we take our fun seriously,” which is the equivalent of throwing a big giant wet blanket over the whole island. I can’t think of a worse party-pooping statement, really. As for being over ambitious, I think there’s nothing wrong with that, except that it’s a very singular form of ambition, which can’t see beyond economic imperatives.
X’ho: You bet. Earnest is our middle name.
Tracy Phillips: It sometimes feels that way, especially whenever I hear another announcement that we’re going to be the next “hub” of something. We shouldn’t forget there’s beauty in letting things grow organically, or that at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding, not the press releases. You can’t fake it to make it. It has to be organic.
Irene Ang: The government, yes! The people, not really. In fact Singaporeans really need to work harder and smarter or our foreign friends will really beat us in this game.
Eric Khoo: Although sometimes I think that we do not take ourselves seriously enough—we have massive inferiority complexes in too many areas...
Elim Chew: Taking oneself too seriously or being ambitious is a personal choice. We have the freedom to choose what we want. To a carefree person, we are too serious. To a serious person, the carefree guy has a lousy attitude. So it’s all a choice and individual perception. Thank god I can still choose.
Chris Lee: I think ambition is fine if we know our own DNA. Like we know that we’re really organized and efficient. [Being sexy] requires more than just a Grand Prix. We’re still a little too uptight.

So how sexy are we then?
Eric Khoo: Well, Singapore may not be sexy to foreigners, but Singaporean chicks certainly are.
Royston Tan: Well that depends on how we perform in bed. Some people can be extremely charismatic behind closed doors, but obviously only a few as you can see from our declining birth rates [laughs].
Chris Lee: We’re definitely not sexy. We do our work well and we are trustworthy but we’re definitely lacking in the sex department.
Christopher John Fussner: Singapore is sexy, but there are varying degrees of sexiness; we’re not floating everyone’s boat just yet.
X’ho: Sexy, no. Nouveau hip, yes—insecure to the hilt, like our government.

So we’re hip and cool?
Eric Khoo: Very much so. To ourselves that is.
Elim Chew: Of course we are. How else can we be uniquely Singapore if we’re not? We have Integrated Resorts, held the first Youth Olympic Games, hosted the F1, and have a booming night entertainment [scene] earning the name of a city that does not sleep. If these [things] are not being stylish, then what is?
Alfian Sa’at: I’ll tell you three big strikes against cool—caning, hanging and chewing gum. To be hip or cool, we need soft power. It’s one of those things that we need to build domestically first because there’s still a cultural cringe over our own local products, this sense that we’re not at ease in our own skin.
Tracy Phillips: I hardly think of Singapore in these terms because it’s home. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable, it’s efficient. But most visiting friends from overseas think the city has some cool cache, in part because their initial ideas of Singapore were way more stiff and draconian.

So have we gotten rid of the stigma where we’re nothing more than a country that bans chewing gums and cane vandalizers? How far have we opened up over the years?
Christopher John Fussner: I’d say marketing tool rather than stigma. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew laying down on the vandal back in the day was one of the best publicity moves of all time. Some people may have seen that as terrible but rest assured a lot more people saw that as great. The pace has been good … the amount of change that has come—both organic and injected—is a sight to see for anyone. We could use a little more love on the B-side though, but that’s just me.
Tracy Phillips: It’s been gradual. There has been a broader exchange of ideas and people as the Internet, affordable air travel and various government agencies have made Singapore more accessible to companies, visitors and the rest of the world. Some people might say having two casinos is a sign of Singapore opening up. But with film and media censorship laws, it still feels like we have a long way to go.
Alfian Sa’at: I think it’s been one big tedious and frustrating striptease when it comes to liberalization policies in Singapore. They’ll flash a bit of thigh, but then cover up some other spot. So you’re hopeful and tantalized for a moment—yay, there’s a multi-tier film rating system!—and then it stops short of expectations. Ditto with coming up with Speaker’s Corner—oh, finally, legal assembly!—and then telling you that a “cause-related gathering” of ONE person outside its parameters can result in a police officer telling you to “move on.”
Eric Khoo: We have come light years since the 70s and 80s but of course, there’s always room for improvement. But for heaven’s sake, drop the R21 rating because kids can legally f**k by the time they’re 18! I miss bringing my kids to a good fight film these days without any cuts!
Royston Tan: Well, it’s a bit better now. At least now we can have “coffee” with our ministers too [laughs].

If you could change one law here, what would it be?
Irene Ang: The freedom to speak and write, for real.
X’ho: Actually, I like the sexism in Section 377A [which criminalizes sex between mutually consenting adult men], so am not about to call for change!
Royston Tan: I’d declare public holidays every Monday, because people need to recover from clubbing on Sunday.
Elim Chew: $500 fine for anyone who complains for the sake of complaining. Singapore will be the richest nation in the world.
Chris Lee: We should make it easier for buskers to busk in the streets, like punks in Japan where they get to do anything they want without applying for licenses and dance in the street. Forget the license.

Christopher John Fussner: I agree. For some of the zoning laws for construction or setting up of establishments, we need a bigger mix of typologies in urban areas. We should shift the context of city centers, instead of viewing areas as defined segments of the city, put more emphasis on establishing “mini-towns.” Chinatown, Little India, Tiong Bahru and Haji Lane are good examples of this type of scale. I feel our urge to become more “modern” has offset the type of scale that’s workable for us. Everything is moving towards bigger is better, or areas with character and history moving towards a sort of tasteless gentrification.
Tracy Phillips: Relax censorship. I’m tired of watching TV and films and missing the nuances and the sub-text because of scene snips. And ban styrofoam use in hawker centers.
Alfian Sa’at: The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act. We simply need diversity in Singapore. Young people these days are apathetic and cynical because they’re not stupid, lah; they recognize propaganda when they read it and when we have [propaganda], it makes it less livable. Newspapers don’t reflect their reality and aspirations as it’s still very top down and paternalistic. What they’re hearing is not their own voice but issued from a loudspeaker.

So are we apathetic or empathetic?
X’ho: We’re apathetic and kiasu; but we can’t help it in a kiasu culture of fear, can we?
Eric Khoo: We’re both, actually.
Alfian Sa’at: We’re definitely apathetic. There are ... values like tolerance and inclusivity which should be taken more seriously; allowing certain people to be who they are. It’s always responsibility-based discourse versus rights-based discourse here … the idea of protecting the public rather than protecting the individual. We need to allow individuals the chance to express themselves.
Royston Tan: It’s important to celebrate differences and originality; just because we think differently, doesn’t mean we’re rebelling against the system. The government operates on a “top down” and “better safe than sorry” approach—but in this time and age, if we’re still so caught up in our comfort or safety zone, we’ll never catch up with the rest of the world.
Christopher John Fussner: In other words, we should also be more “sympathetic.”

What should Singaporeans be more concerned about?
Elim Chew: Things are looking brighter for us. The economy is improving, the bilateral relationship with our neighbor is also improving and major worries are being addressed by the goverment as pointed out by the Prime Minister in his National Day address. Instead of being concerned and being shackled by worries, we should do what we do best by planning ahead, keep on improving and make more money. If we’re struggling all the time, it’s hard for us to create change.
Alfian Sa’at: Demographic shifts due to globalization and immigration and how this chips away at what is a fragile notion of being “Singaporean.” And also for Singaporeans to be able to find our little pockets of freedom. Because at a certain age, we all do feel like we want to do something important like change society through all our little naïve ideals. We should also educate censors really. What I don’t get is the paranoia of a simple depiction of drug-taking or gangsterism to them is deemed as a promotion of a lifestyle. It’s weird…
Christopher John Fussner: Keeping our cultural fabric intact, more nationalism and embracing our own backyard.
Tracy Phillips: Nurturing creative thought. It’s going to take some originality and alternative thinking to stay relevant in the years to come.
X’Ho: Yes, Singaporeans need to stop being so brain-dead!
Chris Lee: Open our eyes and see the world around us. Only when we have an open mind can we excel in this new age. There’s a huge Asian wave in the next decade so it’d be a pity to miss it.
Eric Khoo: A thought or two for the foreign laborers who built this gorgeous metropolis for us to enjoy.
Royston Tan: That we always have a choice and we have rights.

So what about the next generation of Singaporeans? What are we doing about them?
Christopher John Fussner: No clue. Last I heard, we’re still trying to foster more creativity in our school systems.
Elim Chew: We need better education, definitely. For example, Singaporeans don’t know how to drive when they’re overseas because they’ve been so spoon-fed here with road signs (laughs). But at certain levels we need them to rely on their own instincts and gut feel on where they’re going. We lose that because everything is so laid out for us. I think that’s something that we need to educate the young about, including how they can respond more to the arts, films and culture.
Chris Lee: We should ban all the kids from staying at home with their parents. We should force them to move out. Then they can go out partying and have fun without getting nagged.

So what can we still do to have a good time here?
X‘ho: Get the hell away from Singaporeans!
Elim Chew: Read I-S Magazine, and then travel out.
Chris Lee: We need to travel for inspiration…
Royston Tan: I really have to travel out once every three months because I really like the disorganized mess in different countries. Everything is too structured here and very uninspiring.
Christopher John Fussner: A lot of my leisure time is spent eating and drinking … the idea of my own city garden plot has been on my mind for some time now. But yes, we still prefer to look at other people’s grass.
Irene Ang: I think there’s a growing group of us that are out for the experience, probably sick of running the rat race, and just wants to travel the world and be happy. I think this has come about also because we are well-travelled, well-read, and know that there is a lot out there other than chasing the 5Cs which has become a dated concept. But as Asians, it has been drilled in us to work hard and reap the rewards. So I think we are now conflicted between the two.

Finally, if you were making a movie or writing a book about Singapore, what would you call it?
Royston Tan: Disneyland with Capital Punishment.
Eric Khoo: Zombie State.
Tracy Phillips: It Is What It Is.
Christopher John Fussner: Kongsi, something about Singaporean clan wars pre-1965. Throw in a little romance and a struggling protagonist and we’ve got something...
Irene Ang: A period movie set in the 20s through 1996 called Singapore, complete with the dirty Singapore River, chewing gum and all.
Alfian Sa’at: The Boy Who Wore His Songkok to School.
Elim Chew: We Can Create the Change We Want to be directed by Royston Tan.


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As shopping purses continue to shrink, we advise fashion lovers to go b(l)ack to basics.

You don’t have to spend a bomb to look like a million bucks, as A/X (Armani Exchange)’s Fall collection will testify. Its “Speed Style” collection is exactly that, featuring hard-edged characters roaming with a rugged sense of elegance and sexual intrigue (just check out its latest video campaign). The guys can rough it out in tough leather military jackets and blazers, coupled with trooper vests and wool active pants that will take you through season after season, while the girls can look forward to diamond-accented black jackets and glamorous black dresses that won’t look out of the place at work or play.
Available at #B1-03 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard turn, 6304-1369.

Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair
Fusing the best elements of British and Japanese fashion, the autumn collection for Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair is anything but boring. The men’s collection, especially, is inspired by the old gentlemen’s look but with a twist—featuring pieces like double coated college jackets and bowler hats in black—certainly one for aspiring dandys. For the girls, basic tees and cut up gothic dresses (see left) should do the trick.
Available at #02-13/14 Hilton Shopping Gallery, 581 Orchard Rd., 6836-8413.

Always good for well-made basics, the guys behind local menswear label Sifr have upped their ante even further with their latest “Wax Coated Icicles” collection. Nothing cold here, except really cool black coated twill pants and pre-washed shorts that will have you looking like a clued-in man about town in no time.
Available at Know It Nothing, 51 Haji Lane, 6392-5475.

Tsumori Chisato
If you still need to add some playfulness to your collection, the Fall/Winter collection by quirky Jap label Tsumori Chisato should do the trick. Inspired by the planets and certain cartoon characters, black dresses, tops and harem pants come with embellishments like gold embroidery for that luxe factor. Never mind that you’ll look like you just rolled out of bed; these comfortable, evergreen pieces will have come in useful year after year.
Available at Blackjack, #01-10 Forum the Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Rd., 6735-0975.

Twenty 8 Twelve
If you insist on looking fashionably forward, just buy into British actress Sienna Miller’s latest clothing label Twenty8Twelve because the girl certainly has her eye on the pulse. Not one to unnecessarily stray into colors, Miller has come up with a set of reliably chic black pieces for the hipster in you. You can’t go wrong with eye-catching pieces like wool dresses with frilly shoulder trimmings that are all the rage right now, as well as deconstructed blazers and jackets, and well-fitted tights.
Available at Blackjack, #01-10 Forum the Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Rd., 6735-0975.


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Eat Pray Love

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)
Julia Roberts
Javier Bardem
Billy Crudup
James Franco
Directed By: 
Ryan Murphy

What an utter disappointment this supposedly enlightening chick flick turned out to be. After a promising first quarter, Eat Pray Love, based on the best-selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert, becomes just another cloying, annoying and smug globe-trotting drama that could only come from Hollywood. Director Ryan Murphy’s debut feature is laden with the kind of self-help bollocks that only a lunatic Californian (and most self-possessed Singaporeans) would embrace and devour.

Opening Date: 
Thu, 2010-10-07
Terry Ong

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)
Shia LaBeouf
Michael Douglas
Josh Brolin
Directed By: 
Oliver Stone

God bless Oliver Stone. One of America’s most influential filmmakers, he sure knows how to pick his projects. With his treatises on war (Platoon), violence (Natural Born Killers) and politics both Cuban (Comandante) and American (W.), Stone manages to stay on the pulse of what’s relevant in our times. In the wake of the recent financial crisis, Stone revisits his Oscar-winning classic Wall Street to relevant effect here, although it’s hardly his best output of late (or, for that matter, the worst; remember Alexander from 2004?).

Opening Date: 
Fri, 2010-09-24
Terry Ong