Inspired by the latest wave of generative AI technology permeating every field, this year’s edition of Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) has put its focus on the existential. Asking critical questions like ‘What is art?’ and ‘What does it mean to be human?’ with its exhibit lineup, SIFA 2023 beckons us to contemplate our place in the world.
Since its launch in 1977, the annual festival has celebrated the performing arts and breathed life into the local art scene. This year will be no different. With a focus on the human experience, the festival will consist of three main segments—Creation, Life Profusion, and SIFA X—that take place across various locations in Singapore’s city centre and online.
‘Creation’ comprises 15 distinctive works from across the globe, including pieces done by notable artists from Belgium, Italy and Taiwan, as well as homegrown talents. Meanwhile, ‘Life Profusion’ is an online-exclusive segment featuring work curated by local creatives, allowing viewers to take part in the festival from the comforts of their homes. Looking for something more avant-garde? SIFA X opens the door to experimentation, providing a platform for alternative expression. The lineup features new works making their debut on the SIFA stage and seeking to tackle contemporary issues.
Running from 19 May to 4 June 2023, you can look forward to a myriad of exceptional productions—everything from dance to theatre—that dive into the peculiar facets of life that make us uniquely human. Not sure where to start? Here, we round up seven festival highlights to look out for.
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Realm of Silk by Sougwen Chung
Chinese-born, Canadian-raised Sougwen Chung has made a name for herself through her exploratory work investigating the relationship between art, humans and technology. She famously employs robots in her projects, painting in tandem with them to create stunning works of art. Accompanied by renowned Singaporean cellist Leslie Tan, Chung weaves a story of metamorphosis—not unlike the titular silkworm.
Visit Realm of Silk on 20 May 2023.
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Abyss by 99 Art Company
Hailing from Korea, 99 Art Company is diving deep into the emotions that are intrinsic to the human experience—sorrow and bitterness—through the medium of dance. And if you’re feeling inspired after watching their piece, you can learn from the experts. Artistic director Hyreim Jang will be hosting a workshop to share elements of traditional Korean dance.
Abyss runs from 19 to 20 May 2023.
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Me, You, Then, Now by Muna Tseng
Muna Tseng is an internationally acclaimed dancer from Hong Kong who has made New York her home for over 40 years. In the ’80s, she pushed artistic boundaries alongside her well-known contemporaries, Keith Haring and Tseng Kwong Chi. Now, at age 70, Tseng presents a retrospective performance as she reflects on her extensive dance journey, spanning countries and cultures through a captivating confluence of dance, music, and theatre.
Visit Me, You, Then, Now on 27 May 2023.
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New-Illusion by Toshiki Okada/chelfitsch
In New-Illusion, Japanese theatre company Chelfitsch presents a time-bending story of a man and woman’s lives. What’s real, and what’s not? That is the question left up to the audience to decipher as they watch the events unfold before them through striking projections.
New-Illusion runs from 3 to 4 June 2023.
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Humans 2.0 by Circa
Award-winning contemporary circus Circa is making a stop in Singapore to deliver a powerful performance of hope and the human spirit in light of the pandemic. Humans 2.0 tells a dynamic story of connection, complete with heart-pumping music and lighting. Kids are sure to relish this breathtaking circus performance, and can even try their hand at acrobatics in a workshop hosted by Circa.
Humans 2.0 runs from 3 to 4 June 2023.
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Privacy by Mojoko
Privacy is one of two virtual exhibitions, highlighting a contemporary dilemma: the right to privacy in modern society. Are we prepared to sacrifice this fundamental human right in our digitalised world? Eight artists from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hungary and the United Kingdom share their pieces through digital art.
Explore the artworks in Privacy from 19th May 2023.
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Love Divine is an arts extravaganza set against the Singapore skyline. Taking place at Cé La Vi, Love Divine begins with a radical rope art performance by Daniel Kok and Luke George, before segueing into a vibrant burlesque spectacle directed by Sukki. Expect anything and everything from this sensational exploration of social issues with a star-studded cast—look out for Nathan Hartono, Grace Kee, Becca D’Bus, The Glamourettes and more.
Love Divine runs from 26 to 27 May 2023.