The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) successfully concludes its 45th year, marking the first year of Natalie Hennedige’s tenure as Festival Director, and the beginning of her three-year arc for the Festival with an overarching title of The Anatomy of Performance.
SIFA 2022 celebrates the imagination and possibility of vibrant creativity and planning during the thick of the pandemic with both live and digital creations and experiences which had been imagined, developed and delivered during the course of the past two years. Over 430 local and international artists were involved in this year’s SIFA programming across over 70 performances and activities in-person and online, including 17 physical programmes, with a record number of 11 commissioned works for this year’s Festival.
Commissioned by the National Arts Council and organised by Arts House Limited, the Festival ran for three weeks from 20 May to 5 June, with an extended SIFA on Demand period from 20 June to 10 July.
Returning to Ritual in a period of instability
SIFA 2022 is unique with its beginnings rooted in the budding stages of the pandemic, and its emerging to the public amidst the shifting sands of the current world.
This year’s works draw out a dichotomy of new experimentation by artists who have adapted to the ever-changing pandemic measures and restrictions, while paying homage to the familiar yet under-studied subject of “Ritual”.
Drawing out unique multi-disciplinary characteristics of shows and venues
This year, Natalie took the unconventional approach of involving key designers across various disciplines for several productions, for aesthetic consistency and adding to the creative vitality of the festival shows. This includes:
- Brian Gothong Tan as the multimedia artist for shows MEPAAN and Ceremonial Enactments
- Max Tan as costume designer for MEPAAN and Ceremonial Enactments
- Andy Lim as the lighting designer for MEPAAN, Ceremonial Enactments and Devil’s Cherry
- Wong Chee Wai to conceptualize the set for MEPAAN and Devil’s Cherry
- Randy Chan as set designer for Ceremonial Enactments as well as the spatial and set designer of all festival productions taking place at the Pasir Panjang Power Station, including MEPAAN and Devil’s Cherry.
Drama Box and Teater Ekamatra also collaborated with Max Tan for their respective festival commissions.
Apart from iconic performance venues such as The Arts House, Victoria Theatre, Esplanade Theatre and Goodman Arts Centre, historic and idyllic venues including Pasir Panjang Power Station and Pulau Ubin also served as sites for key SIFA commissions, with these destinations holding as much charm and meaning as the actual performances.
Expanded possibilities of performance
In her first year as Festival Director, Natalie also drew out multiple dimensions to the Festival, providing an opportunity to showcase the versatility of local and international performing artists, who in the last two years have emerged with new forms of artistic expression through alternative means.
SIFA 2022 saw the first iteration of its virtual venue, Life Profusion, which ran in parallel with the actual festival and provided an expanded platform for experimentation with digital as a key performance medium.
Life Profusion is home to digital-exclusive works, including the world premiere of Delicate Spells of Mind by world-renowned body architect and science fiction artist, Lucy McRae.
Life Profusion extends beyond the festival proper, and will continue to be a key digital venue for the next two editions of the Festival. The SIFA 2022 experience continues on Life Profusion with five portals featuring over 50 artists to deepen audiences engagement with new ideas and new creations.
From now till 10 July, audiences may still catch four commissioned programmes MEPAAN, Ceremonial Enactments, Bangsawan Gemala Malam and Delicate Spells of Mind via SIFA On Demand on SIFA website.
The 2022 edition also saw the inaugural edition of SIFA X: oneirism curated by Andy Chia, adding a third layer to the Festival with alternative performance offerings at the landmark Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre.
Tickets can be purchased here at S$15 per show or S$25 for bundle of 4.
Looking ahead to two more editions
With SIFA 2022 having set the stage for Natalie’s three-year trajectory, you may look forward to the coming two years under her wing. SIFA 2023, The Anatomy of Performance – Some People, explores a means of sharing each other’s perspectives, and lived or inherited experiences in the open space that art defines. The 2023 edition will be held from 19 May to 4 June 2023 (subjected to changes).
SIFA 2024, The Anatomy of Performance – Confession, will explore confessions, or truths, which are embedded at the heart of great art.