Lots of cool talks, exhibitions and screenings will be taking place at this year’s edition (organized by The Arts House in conjunction with the Singapore Writers Festival), centered on the themes dreams, folklore and fairytales. We pick three not-to-be-missed events.

Meet the Author: Catherine Breillat
The notorious French filmmaker, who is most well known for pushing the boundaries of sex and femininity through her extreme and explicit films Fat Girl and Romance will be in town for an unflinching discussion on her themes and influences. Not to be missed.
Nov 2, 6pm. Screening Room. Admission by festival pass. $15 from Bytes.sg.

Singapore Writers Festival Fringe Films
Alongside Catherine Breillat’s fairtytale-themed Bluebeard and The Sleeping Beauty (both shown for the first time here), other gems previewing include local filmmaker Tzang Merwyn Tong’s A Wicked Tale and Jean Cocteau’s classic Beauty and the Beast.
Nov 2-6, various times. Screening Room. Admission by festival pass. Check the website for full lineup.

Nocturnal Wanderer
Nobel Prize-winning author Gao Xingjian narrates from his book of the same name about a wanderer who encounters surreal characters through a series of daydreams and love stories.
Nov 2-3, 8pm. Play Den. Nov 8-9, 8pm. Chamber. $10 from Sistic.


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After a two-year hiatus, the Singapore Biennale is back with a vengeance. Not only are the venues better (mostly centered around the Bras Basah vicinity for easier accessibility), the curation itself is tighter than ever, with more installation-based and interactive works. Here are five of our faves.

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World by Zhao Renhui
Local artist Zhao Renhui’s fascination with zoology is well-evidenced in this installation of a miscellany of photographs and objects including man-made frogs and even square-shaped apples.
The Peranakan Museum.

Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations by Ken and Julie Yonetani
As a response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station incident in Japan, the husband and wife duo created a majestic work comprising 31 chandeliers fitted with uranium glasses which illuminate a haunting green tinge.
National Museum of Singapore.

Road to Nirvana by Po Po
This site-specific work covers 1,000 sq. m. of Fort Canning Park, comprising plastic strings, brass bells and iron bars wrapped around various trees, creating a catacomb-like imagery that is at once dreamy and creepy.
Singapore Art Museum.

Sorry for the Inconvenience by Manny Montelibano
A biting political commentary, this. The young Filipino artist through his subversive multi-channel work features a myriad range of public figures like Mao Zedong interspersed with everyday figures like local priests making public apologies—investigating the context of why these apologies were made.
Singapore Art Museum.

Specula by Nguyen Oanh Phi Phi
This installation made from Vietnamese lacquer on epoxy and fibreglass composite covers a whole room. The majesty of the piece is achieved through its spacious layout with cleverly placed mirrors which force visitors to examine themselves as they walk through it.
Singapore Art Museum.

All exhibitions at The Singapore Biennale are on Oct 26-Feb 16, 2014. Various venues, www.singaporebiennale.org. $10.


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Strike a Pose
The much delayed Vogue Club will finally open next month (although the exact date is yet to be confirmed). The 11,000 sq. ft. club will be housed in a two-storey cylindrical glass structure, and boast 360° panoramic views of the city from 200 meters above ground. Far out.

Sonic Youth
Just announced, this. The good guys from Amnesty and Fred Perry are holding a Sub-Sonic 2013 live music gig under the flyover near Thomson on Nov 1, 8pm. There will be three performance areas at the event featuring homegrown acts like Anechois, Sub:Shaman & Horns and These Brittle Bones. Tickets are only available by invite when you sign up at their Facebook page.

Art Beat
Sick of stuffy art galleries? Head over to pop-up art show Frames by famed Tokyo-based product designer Shigeki Fujishiro, who presents a series of sculptures influenced by Marcel Duchamp at a temporary space at Gillman Barracks. The works, made from cypress wood, appear to levitate from the ground out of nowhere and are certainly one of the most interesting works we’ve seen this year. On through Nov 15 at the ad-hoc space Gallery 38, Gillman Barracks

At the Fringe
More good news for arts enthusiasts. The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2014, which takes place Jan 18-19, will boast affordable tickets from just $19, down from this year’s $30. It will also feature 15 new works, including commissioned pieces by Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Sunairi and Portuguese theater company Mundo Perfeito.


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The prolific Indian art gallerist, who is based in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, talks to Terry Ong about art-making and the state of the modern world.

I’ve been busy travelling recently, starting from England to Finland, Estonia, Naples, Greece and Hong Kong before coming back here. What hit me was that the world has shrunk so tremendously that we can occupy multiple spaces at any one time.

We’ve advanced so significantly in terms of science and bio-technology, but when it comes to human interaction and politics, it seems like we’ve frozen in time. So there is this sense of dislocation that I find dynamic yet problematic.

The Internet and cellphones have changed everything. On the plus side, it has given us physical freedom and more opportunities, but it has also created dissolution among the media, especially for print and magazines.

How do you create context? Everyone in the industry is telling me about the same problem; and now we have emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the list goes on and on.

We don’t pay attention to nature or causes that are more enduring as everyone is seeking instant gratification. We need to change our values system and seek a return to beauty.

Life is about the moment when you wake up and you’re able to feel the heat of the sun and you know you’re in it.

The world now is totally eclectic and fragmented.

With art and the gallery, I wanted to create an inter-cultural dialog between artists who are dealing with those issues today.

Singapore was not a player in the art world. When you’re in Europe, the first thing that comes to mind is Paris, and for Asia probably Tokyo. Today, everyone wants to be seen as an arts capital.

Someone once asked me if art should be an investment. I said “no”. She was baffled. I do not like to promote that idea because art has been a necessity form of commodity for expression and the creative process since the caveman. Artworks created then are still right there in front of us. There was no economy or trade then, yet they continued to produce, grow and move forward. Art, after all, comes directly from inner feelings and the interior.

Hollywood films sell like crazy because they’re made for 16-year-olds. Arthouse films like those by Truffaut, Tarkovsky, Rossellini, Godard and Wong Kar Wai still have a very small following. My point is that things that sell are not great art.

I started making films around 2002. I enrolled at the New York Film Academy for adults who are not advanced in the art of filmmaking, but who really wanted to learn the craft.

The tough part about filmmaking is that it requires a lot of money. The cumulative amount is a serious commitment.

Making film is like giving birth. That child is like a style and I would want to have a signature style. My first film was called Poets of Color, a non-fiction tale about an Indian artist living in Soho featuring the likes of Mark Rothko and artists in the scene. I am currently working on Louis Kahn: City of the Tiger about the American architect and why architecture matters. Space certainly dictates behaviour.

The thing about being in New York is that you’re constantly engaged. It may be dense but everyone walks there. No one walks in LA. Singapore is like being in the Botanic Gardens. Unfortunately, the whole world is beginning to look like New York.

I read just about everything; recent reads include Dave Eggers’ best-selling A Hologram for the King. Books that interest me are usually about history, culture, philosophy or globalization, which also explains why I do things in a certain way.

We keep on making the same mistakes over and over again as that is the essential part of the human race. But we’re extremely adaptable too. Human beings are very resilient by nature.

We do not inherit wisdom and experience—we gain it.


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Just what is it that you love about living here? (Apart from reading I-S, of course.)


 “I like the fact that we can go anywhere and have good food in the most casual way. You can step into a three-star restaurant without having to dress up, or at any hawker center for a rocking meal.”
Timothy Kao, lecturer


“Our hidden gems all over the city, including neighbourhoods like Little India and even as far off as Sembawang.”
Eric Yeo, public servant


“We are the only city with an F1 night race, and we can party from dusk till dawn.”
Wendy Shen, consultant


“Singapore has the best airport in the region with lots of restaurants and entertainment options.”
Zarina Joy, IT consultant


“This is a city that has strong external influences but does not compromise on its self-identity.”
Alfean Samad, legal executive




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All the Way
More great live acts are coming to town—but you’ll have to wait till next year to see them. The fourth edition of Singapore's indie music festival St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival (www.singapore.lanewayfestival.com) will feature Daughter, Jamie XX, James Blake and The Jezabels, taking place next year on Jan 25 at The Meadows, Gardens by the Bay. “We're exceptionally proud of this year's line-up,” says Laneway founder Danny Rogers. Other marquee acts in the line-up include Youth Lagoon and Kurt Vile, so log on to the site for the full list and to book tickets, with special packages available for early birds. Also not to be missed, French golden band Phoenix, who perform Jan 15 at The Star Performing Arts Centre (1 Vista Exchange Green, 6636-0055, $68-148 from Sistic).

Nil by Mouth
More indie names, this time in the realm of electronic music, will also play at the second edition of the Super 0 pop-up parties. After taking over Gillman Barracks earlier this year, the organizers are bringing the gig to Annex @ The Mill (5 Jalan Kilang) this time near Redhill and Alexandra every Saturday on Nov 9, 16, 23, 30. Industrial venue aside, the names are some of the most underground and credible in the scene today, including Germany’s Terranova, the UK’s South London Ordnance and the US’ Daniel Bell. $25-35 at www.supero.sg. Want more? The brilliant DJ-producer Four Tet is also slated to play a live set on Nov 28 at Zouk (17 Jiak Kim St., 6738-2988, $40-50 from www.zoukclub.com).

The Bookie
The first Singapore Art Book Affair, spearheaded by Books Actually’s Kenny Leck with the assistance from the Singapore Tourism Board’s new Kickstart Fund will take place Nov 28-Dec 1 at Gillman Barracks (9 Lock Rd., www.gillmanbarracks.com). The fair will be dedicated to local art and design literature, featuring artist talks, film screenings and book sales and launches—definitely a must for bookworms.


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The pop-up art exhibition The Art of Collecting, Masterpieces from the Pinacothèque de Paris is a comprehensive preview spanning 500 years of art history featuring 20 masterpieces by legendary artists Botticelli, Rembrandt, Renoir, Modigliani and Picasso. We talk to director Marc Restellini about his curatorial process.

How did you narrow down the collection?
The idea is to curate a collector’s cabinet of sorts. Unlike most museums today where curators work with fixed classifications (and hence the exhibitions become too academic), we wanted to evoke a more intimate and spiritual feeling with the space, as if you are visiting the home of a private collector.

What about the placements of the artworks within the gallery space?
It is important that we create some sort of communication between the paintings. For example, I’ve placed a work by Andy Warhol depicting Marilyn Monroe from 1967 with a piece by Hendrick ter Brugghen depicting a singing lute player from 1624. Both works are about entertainers from different eras and I’d like them to speak to one another. And to convey the vast sense of time and space and how it traverses, I’ve placed a work by Max Ernst depicting a city circa 1936-1939 between two portraits—one by Antony Van Dyck from the 1600’s and the other Jacopo Robusti dit Le Tintoret from the 1500’s.

Tell us more about the theme of the exhibition “Transversality”.
“Transversality” is a term that goes some way towards explaining how small, timeless, community of artists, from all periods, from all cultures and origins, are united by a similar way of thinking, of reflecting, and of behaving.

The second part of the exhibition is more spiritual in nature…
Yes, there are works by 20th century masters like Mark Rothko and Chu the-Chun shown alongside the Botticelli’s work of the depiction of Christ. There is a feeling of deep spirituality in these works and they are very much in touch with God. For Rothko’s works, for example, you could even sense the inspiration of light seeping through the painting.

The exhibition is on through Nov 17. Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris, Fort Canning Centre, Cox Terrace, www.pinacotheque.com.sg. $12-15 from Sistic.


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