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The NUS Arts Festival to Return for Its 15th Edition

13 January 2020


The NUS Arts Festival to Return for Its 15th Edition

From 13 to 28 March 2020, NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) will present ‘Ways of Seeing’, an arts festival of dance, music, theatre, film and related dialogues. The theme takes its inspiration from poet-painter and art critic John Berger’s book of the same name, which suggests that the message of an art piece may not be as intended by the artist, but by the shifting perspectives of the viewer. Consequently, the array of works presented at the Festival engages our audience to reassess how we “see” the world around us, why we “see” in the way we do, and perhaps question how we can “see” more clearly.

From being able to unravel the coded images in a painting, to a deeper understanding of the impact of new media and technologies on our perceptions, to how we view the world through different lenses; be it physical, social, psychological or cultural, this Festival stretches our students’ abilities to take on a broad range of compelling issues in relation to the theme, and represent these through their chosen art forms.

With the support and partnership of our academic collaborators from the Departments of Chinese Studies, Communications and New Media, Geography, Malay Studies and Japanese Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, the Festival promises to entertain, as much as spur our audience to re-examine the multiplicity of shifting perspectives that constantly define and redefine their realities.

“It is this spirit of openness and willingness to engage across disciplinary boundaries that the academics involved in this year’s festival and the team at CFA embrace ‘Ways of Seeing’, to share an exciting programme which will possibly entreat us to consider how we view the world”, shares Dr. Kamalini Ramdas, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore and NUS Arts Festival Academic Advisor.
Artworks from the NUS Museum inspire the Festival’s opening performance Mindscapes from NUS Chinese Dance. Through this visually stunning performance, Artistic Director Ding Hong and guest choreographer Wang Cheng, together with the students, weave the universal values of truth, beauty and goodness into diverse Chinese dance styles.

As a fitting close to both their 40th Anniversary celebrations and the NUS Arts Festival, the NUS Symphony Orchestra presents A Night At The Gallery, where paintings will come alive through the music. In Foxconn Frequency (no. 3) – for three visibly Chinese performers (by Hong Kong Exile) and A Grand Design, A Work-In-Progress (by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips with Checkpoint Theatre), cold technology and economic progress are questioned over the self and heritage preservation. The fine balance between preconceptions and connecting with our instinctive nature is the story told in Dreamtalk (by Ranice Tay and Ang Gey Pin) , while societal and cultural expectations are at the heart of the performance Rantau: Layaran Sukma (Explorations: Voyage of the Soul) by Malay dance group, NUS Ilsa Tari. In Blindspot, the students from NUS Chinese Drama, explore the social perceptions faced by the marginalised and the visually impaired community.

The essence of the Festival’s theme is encapsulated in Jo Bannon’s Exposure where in an intimate setting of one actor and one audience, differing conclusions can be drawn, depending on what is seen.
Finally, to connect the Festival’s theme to the contemporary issues confronting us, Critical Conversations will invite the audience to dialogue with practitioners and academics.

“My hope is that our audience will enjoy the performances put up by all the student and professional artists alike. Everyone has worked very hard practicing and thinking through the issues in relation to ‘Ways of Seeing’, and every show is a composite, like a kaleidoscope, which shows you different patterns as you turn the dial. If a show connects with our audience and gives them deeper insights; that is excellent because we have engaged and given them a meaningful experience.” Ms, Mary Loh, Festival Director, NUS Centre for the Arts.

Tickets for NUS Arts Festival: Ways of Seeing are priced at $15 for all students and Friends of CFA (a complimentary members programme), and $28 for adults. Tickets are available from Monday, 13 January. Registration for free events is also available at the festival’s official website. The 15th NUS Arts Festival is generously supported by Bowen Enterprises Pte Ltd, the Cultural Matching Fund, and the Kewalram Chennai Group.