• Taking on the theme “Invisible Cities”, the Festival’s line-up is inspired by four commissioned sonnets by local writers who reimagined the precinct through its stories
  • Visitors can look forward to programmes and artworks that evolve from day to night, which encourage contemplation beyond experiencing the convivial joy of a festival

Light To Night Festival 2020

Spearheaded by National Gallery Singapore with precinct partners The Arts House, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Light to Night Festival returns from 10 to 19 January 2020 as a marquee event of Singapore Art Week. Besides enthralling with playful artistic interventions which take over the precinct, the fourth Festival edition also partners artists and creative talents to enrich visitors through interdisciplinary programmes, meaningful engagements and innovative ideas that invigorate and reimagine the Civic District.

Themed Invisible Cities, Light to Night Festival 2020 draws inspiration from the postmodern literature by Italian writer Italo Calvino, where Marco Polo describes a series of wondrous, surreal cities with an interplay of reality and imagination. This prompted us to reimagine the Civic District through creative collaboration and intervention to reclaim the once-colonial precinct to its present-day identity as a precinct which houses the artistic and historical gems of Singapore and the region. Some other themes that were surfaced such as alternative histories, fictional worlds, and our perception of a place also informed numerous interdisciplinary artworks subsequently.

In the same vein, four local writers – Desmond Kon, Kevin Martens Wong, Marc Nair, and Nuraliah Norasid – were commissioned to compose four sonnets that articulate their thoughtful meditations and imagination of the precinct and relationships we cultivate, while extending the conversation of the distinct history and personal stories of the Civic District. The poems with their multiple layers of narratives then guided the festival programming.

Ms. Suenne Megan Tan, Festival Director and Director of Audience Development & Engagement at National Gallery Singapore said, “Cities may be metaphors, but they are also living organisms that draw their shape and energy from people who live and work in them. Like a kaleidoscope, our experience of the city is always shifting, providing a sense of estrangement and yet wonder. By inviting artists across different disciplines to reimagine our city with art, this Festival edition explores the invisible and complex geographies of the historic Civic District, and how our perceptions of place are shaped by personal influence, such as memory, desire, loss as well as cultural forces, including history and media.”

Ms Tan continues, “Every artwork at the Festival adds elements of realism and abstraction to our perception of the Civic District and our city, which differs from the daily experience. Collectively, they reveal both the idiosyncrasies of our built environment and heterogeneity of the human experience. Cognisant that art is meant for everyone, we create opportunities for visitors and artists from all walks of life to connect and have dialogues with each other, extending the experience beyond walls of institutions for greater accessibility to everyone.”

Experiencing art from day to night

Light to Night Festival 2020, which uses play, innovation and ideas to bridge connections between the past and present, will deepen visitor engagement beyond exploring the sensory experiences. Festival-goers are invited to partake in discussions, behind-the-scenes dialogues and workshops with artists and subject specialists at the inaugural EN(LIGHT)EN forum and TEDxSingapore Salon, with the latter examining leading ideas and inspirations on why art matters now.

Woven into select artworks for the first time are dual experiences triggered by the shift from day to night. For example, inspired by Anthony Poon’s artwork¹, Optical Maze at the Padang welcomes festival-goers into its colourful pavilion by day to find a moment of wonder and respite in the bustling city, before transforming into a maze with playful labyrinthine walkways changing with the beat of the lights at night.

Floating City and Optical Maze Light to Night Festival 2020Artist impressions of Floating City and Optical Maze

Floating City, which is suspended at the Gallery’s Padang Atrium, visualises a dream-like city where visitors explore the ‘skyscrapers’ by walking through the clusters of ethereal towers from the level three sky bridge. It will then take on a new life in the evenings as its colours and intensity respond to the music performances that engulf the space. Shadows of Dust and Clouds at the ACM features a mirror that reveals hidden messages at night, blurring the distinction between dreams and memories. Over at Esplanade Park, Light Lane transports visitors to invisible ‘cities’ with whimsical gobo shadows in the day and colourful bike lanes at night as they ride on stationary bicycles and immerse in distinct city soundscapes.

Actively participating in art experiences

Visitors will also go beyond being spectators to become active participants of their own art experiences, including being in the thick of action in games with high interactivity, thus transforming the Civic District into a true recreational space for the people.

On Fridays and Saturdays across the two weeks, a live-action large-scale escape game experience – True Lies: Secrets of the Gallery² awaits at the Gallery for the first time. Working in teams, participants will beat the clock to uncover the mysteries and secrets behind its art collection and the architecture of the Former Supreme Court.

With a few taps on their mobile phones, they can interact with and paint the City Hall façade with customisable city-life objects, culminating in a living mural at Art Skins on Monuments.

Art Skins on Monuments Light to Night Festival 2020

One can also peer into a ‘new’ Civic District with the play of mirrors and reflections as they navigate around Between Two Worlds at the Esplanade Park, or reminisce the good times from the past by playing with the large-scale inflatable Five Stones at Empress Place.

An inclusive Festival for everyone

The 2020 edition will also offer opportunities for young talents to experiment with the blank canvases around the Civic District. This includes a new mentorship programme with tertiary design students to present light projection works on the Parliament Place facade, and an annual 3D light installation of the Festival namesake – a collaboration between tech-artist and projection mapping designer Daryl Goh and Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive and Digital Media this year.

To engage a diverse community, a promenade/site-specific performance Something About Home by disability arts specialist and theatre practitioner, Peter Sau and 6 disabled artists will be situated around the Gallery, while visitors take refuge from the cacophony of multi-sensory stimuli at the Clement Space by researcher and multi-disciplinary artist, Dawn-joy Leong. Guides with disabilities will lead an interactive, multi-sensory tour in the dark at ACM too.

A cultural immersion of food, drinks and entertainment

For quality bonding time, festival-goers can gather over delectable delights from Singapore and Southeast Asia at Art x Social on Empress Lawn, St Andrew’s Road and Connaught Drive. They can then immerse in fantasy fiction and colourful visual dioramas with the return of open books at The Arts House or enjoy a good laugh at Funny Fridays with local comedians Suhaimi Yusof and Stephanie Chan. Music lovers will have a treat at Symphonic Saturdays featuring the likes of Tabitha Nauser with a new acoustic music arrangement of her latest album at the Gallery’s Padang Atrium, or enjoy music-making with Indian jazz-fusion band Varsha at The Arts House, or sway along to the cross-genre performance by NUS Electronic Music Lab and visually-impaired erhu player Stephanie Ow at Victoria Concert Hall.

Admission to the Festival is free, commencing from 10am until midnight. Certain programme timings and admission charges may vary. Details of the festival will be available on here.

¹ Poon’s works are largely influenced by Western genres such as Optical Art and colour field theory, which he adapted to create his signature style of abstraction in Singapore. Embedded in many of his geometric-styled paintings are the artist’s examination of the relations between colour, form, line, space and surface.
² Ticket sales will be available in December 2019.

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