Friday, June 08, 2007


Snapshot-5 is about the Singapore Arts Festival that's going on from the 25th May through the 24th of June 2007. The Arts festival is a combination of Dance (various dance forms and fusion), Music and theatre. The festival offers an audio-visual extravaganza for a variety of art connoisseurs. Information about the location, timings, dates and other details can be found on their website:

The padang area in front of the old supreme court and a view of Singapore's finance district

The opening night was actually 3 nights in a row (perhaps I should call it “opening nights”) i.e. the 25-27 of May. The opening nights event was free to everyone and was organized in an open area called the Padang. The Padang is a grassy field opposite some of Singapore famous landmark buildings such as the old Supreme Court, which I learn, is going to be a new Art Museum. I cannot think of a better use for the elegant colonial building.

The pre-show crowd

The opening nights featured an event called “Dreams in Flight” performed by La Fura dels Baus from Spain. A similar aerial performance was conducted by the same group at the last Barcelona Olympic Games opening ceremony. The show featured Artists suspended in a rotating huge steel disk that was maneuvered on top of the heads of spectators, to the accompaniment of music. The sound system and the visual background screens with projections were excellent.

The hospitality tent

I observed Singaporeans from all walks of life and in all age groups including older people in wheel chairs, had turned up to watch the event. It is great to know that so many people back an Arts Festival here. We were sitting/standing next to a group of somewhat elderly group who were enjoying themselves quite a bit. There were kiosks offering free water (called Newater) and brochures for the various events on offer during the entire Arts Festival month. Singapore has few reservoirs and few rivers and has to rely on neighboring Malaysia for potable water before they are treated here for public supply. Anyway, the older people were joking about the origins of Newater and that’s why no one bought these and hence distributed at most events for free! Testing has proved that Newater is indeed potable.

Wheel in the skies with artists performing while it was rolling and rotating over the crowds

The older couple next to us remarked that the water on offer was “Newater” and wanted to know if we knew anything about it. Sure we did, being nosy characters and wanting to know about everything. And for those who do not know what Newater is, here’s a small digression from the main topic- New Water is actually recycled water, treated water from waste water etc. The PUB (a Government body) has brought in technology that has previously been in use in the US, UK and Australia to supplement the potable water supply in Singapore.

La Fura dels Baus (Spain), the artists who were in the giant wheel

Aerial dancers

Fire works with Aerial dancers

Back to the Arts festival now and the aerial event included, a group of Singaporean volunteers who had undergone training recently, being suspended 40 feet in the air from a crane, strapped to a net, performing aerial dances. Various lights were focused on them and during the last part of their act, massive fireworks were launched, lighting up the skies. It was meant to project optimism about the event and about life itself in the years to come. I am sure that the theme for such an opening was also to give art a fun image, art is fun, art is bold, art is interactive, brings people together and is an expression of hope.


Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Quick update on the Arts Festival that is underway. It has attracted 300,000 people to the different shows during the first two weeks of the festival. This was on channel News Asia tonight June 15th, 2007. Good news indeed.

Athul said...

hey that old couple and what they thought about NEWATER was funny ....

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

The funny thing was that the older gent was taking sips from the Newater bottle himself but when he made the comment, he was looking at my bottle like I had drawn the water from the toilet! As the evening went by, it was evident that this older gent had a good sense of humor and we were thoroughly entertained by his constant comments. This was all in the hour prior to the show. Once the show got underway, the audience had to be very mobile because the giant wheel with the performers inside and the huge net carrying the suspended artists were made to move low and among the crowds. It was, in a way, an audience participation event although all we did was to dodge the wheel and generally have a laugh. Thats what made this a fun event, and an event that makes art so tangible, that one could almost physically reach out and feel the atmosphere.