Night festivals are a chance for cities to showcase their prowess in a way that glitters. The Singapore Night Festival(SNF) is always evolving and in its tenth year they pulled out all the stops. For 10 balmy nights young and old were out of the house and hitting the streets in what was a celebration of art, performance and culture at one of Singapore’s largest outdoor festivals. Much like Vivid Sydney or Melbourne’s White Night, SNF creates a hub for art to thrive.
Five zones were set out amidst the Bras Basah.Bugis neighbourhood with exhibitions, installations and street parties offering up free entry. I think this is one of the most important factors in putting on an event like this. It needs to be accessible to and include everyone. While it is next to impossible to see everything, I think the point of this kind of festival is to just immerse yourself in the crowds and follow the stream of people. Nothing like going with the flow and traipsing the streets with the locals of an exotic city.
It was a sensory experience around the National Museum of Singapore and I loved it. Convolutions saw the building’s facade turned into a technological ballet linking architecture, projection mapping, lights, laser and music. Aesop also had a scent based experience where your nose was encouraged to navigate the space. There were baths of oils with intense lighting to heat the pools of delicious and in a way very calming pods. The Flower of Life and the Infinite Self was also very cool. It was a giant dome with a wall made of mirrors and beaming colourful lights. It was interesting to see yourself in a way you never had before. Plus, there was a DJ so it was a party in a dome! My favourite of the whole festival however was The Tree That Blinked. It was amazing in so many ways, but the symbolism behind it was subjective which meant different meanings could come from this animated projection.
Walking throughArmenian Street was one hell of a street party. In the distance you could hear latin music and feel the heat from the dance floor. Then as you approached, it was a culmination of live music, laughter, roving performers and dance. This was definitely my kind of fiesta and I have no doubt they partied until the wee hours of the morning. One of the most entrancing installations was Les Hommes Debout (The Standing Men) outside the Singapore Art Museum. A collective of 16 glow in the dark human-sized figurines stood together illuminated and ready for a chat. Passers by were encouraged to initiate a dialogue with them and it was kind of freaky because it felt very lifelike and almost indicative of where our technology is going. I’m not sure I’m ready for a world with robots yet, but this was a bit of a taste test.
The draw card of the SNF was an act from the Netherlands called Close-Act Theatre and with them they brought Globe. It was physically impossible to get a position at all for one of the most hyped acts and it clearly drew the largest crowds. It was as if a Beyonce was in town! Their huge spherical structure in the centre was the focus of the performance with circus, pyrotechnics and video projection used to create an electrifying spectacle. If I ever come across this in my travels again at least I know I need to get in early.
The Festival Village was an interesting one for me. In Australia, we are a country run by foodies and so my expectations were a lot higher. The vibe wasn’t great and the food stalls didn’t present very well. And, even though there was a DJ busting out some bangers, no one was dancing. Either I was there too early or people just don’t dance in Singapore? I’m going to go with the first because in my previous years of living in Singapore, people hit the clubs hard. Maybe I’m just starting to lose my stamina and can’t seem to stay up until the early hours of the morning!
Exciting news though! You’ll be able to experience Singapore’s arts and culture scene at Singapore: Inside Out this November at the Chippendale Creative Precinct in Sydney. It’s certainly an exciting time for South East Asia and Australia to begin artistic collaborations. For tickets and more info, head here.
The author visited Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board. While in Singapore she stayed at the Rendezvous Hotel and travelled from Melbourne with Qantas.
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