This January, the Civic District, where modern Singapore started, invites you to embark on experiential journeys to gain deeper insights into who we are and the world around us. Spearheaded by National Gallery Singapore together with its precinct partners, Light to Night Festival returns for its third year with a bumper edition across an extended six weeks from 18 January to 24 February. With close to 50 programmes, the Festival promises to immerse you in an adventure filled with thought- provoking art and historical encounters from day to night.
Responding to the theme Traces and Echoes, you are invited to go beyond the role of a visual spectator to one who interprets art and history with their five senses. This Festival experience spans two unique editions. The first, as a marquee event of Singapore Art Week (18 to 27 January), presents works of art inspired by personal stories and memories. The second kickstarts the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration (28 January to 24 February) by inviting site-specific responses and reflections from artists, writers, performers who reimagine our past and offer fresh perspectives on significant historical moments in the last 700 years.
Kickstarting with art encounters that activate all five senses during Singapore Art Week
For the first two weekends of the Festival, you can expect your five senses to be delighted by the installations and programmes within and around National Gallery Singapore, The Arts House, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and Esplanade Park.
The biggest façade light show in Singapore, Art Skins on Monuments, will return with a new commission, The Odyssey. It is based on an original storyline co-developed with Brandon Tay and Safuan Johari, together with multimedia illustrations and digital content by 14 other artists. Viewers will follow the artistic voyage of an Explorer who traverses across seven façades of cultural institutions and sojourns the worlds of duality in search of his identity. At the same time, his experience inspires the audience to gain a deeper understanding of self.
You can also be immersed in this journey by activating an interactive wall using sound and movement at the Gallery’s Padang Atrium.
Sensorial Trail, a commissioned series of intimate art encounters with smell, sound and touch, will challenge new forms of sensory relationships at National Gallery Singapore. Internationally-renowned scent researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas seeks to highlight the power of smell in revealing one’s unique identity, alike fingerprints, through a new scentscape eau d’you Who Am I, reminiscent of the youth of Singapore.
This investigation of a collective scent belonging to a population segment is unlocked through the heat emitted when one touches the wall surfaces. Singapore composer-musician Andy Chia invites visitors to discover connections between the sounds heard and the corresponding images triggered with his two-part installation Voices of Time.
Participants will encounter a variety of natural and digitally-composed soundscapes that seem similar to each other, thus blurring reality and fiction. At the same time, visitor-created music compositions will also come to life as wall visuals.
Finally, French artist Tal Isaac Hadad will showcase two works where the body and voice are brought into mutual resonance to produce an astounding form of synesthesia – a signature of his practice.
Esplanade Park will welcome site-specific audio and environmental installation Under the Five Trees. Conceptualised by performance-maker Kaylene Tan and screenwriter Ben Slater, this project brings together an interdisciplinary team of 14 literary and sound artists, musicians, performers and architect- landscape designers, including renowned writers, Boey Kim Cheng and Amanda Lee Koe. They have drawn on the precinct’s rich stories to weave five creations that combine sound, music, poetry, narrative and landscape design. You can experience the work on-site with mobile phones and headphones.
On the lawn of Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), Singapore designer Sebastian Chun creates outdoor art installation Sticks, inspired by the transformation of the city skyline along the Singapore River. His fascination with the bakau pile construction technique and memories of popular childhood game ‘Pick Up Sticks’ are translated in his art to revive a way of life from the past, while creating space for personal and often-untold stories to unfold.
The Arts House Lawn will feature commissioned outdoor installations titled Open Books by creative collective Tell Your Children, and illustrator MESSYMSXI that interprets works of fantasy into life-sized installations. Entering the Victoria Concert Hall, audiences will be in for a treat with Pitch Black, a multi-sensorial music experience that takes place in the dark. Young musicians from Singapore National Youth Orchestra will use parts of their body as percussion and explore sound and silence with movement, LED lights and mime – all without a conductor directing the performance.
Other Festival highlights include a reimagined immersive “garden” digitally composed with printed images of five botanical gardens in Southeast Asia titled The Regency Made Me Blind by Gary Carsley and Jeremy Chu en-route to the Gallery’s Padang Deck; Resonance by students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts at ACM which bridges the past, present, and future through a two-part installation; Common Life by artist Ho Chee Lick and poet Anne Lee Tzu Pheng at The Arts House that brings visitors on a visual and poetic journey with the pairing of original sketches of life in Singapore neighbourhoods with poems created in response.
You can also tantalise your taste buds while bonding over art, food and music over at Art x Social on Empress Lawn, Comedy Fridays with Kumar and Hirzi, and Music Saturdays with The Sam Willows and Charlie Lim at National Gallery Singapore.
In the subsequent four weeks beginning 28 January, the festival will provide a brand-new experience for visitors by incorporating a historical narrative for the very first time. The façades will transform into a multimedia showcase depicting 7 Stories in 700 Years, which gathers anecdotes found across the iconic buildings and sites in the Civic District. These reimagined historical tales offer a fresh perspective on key figures and moments of Singapore, including trade activities at Singapore River, law and justice, performing arts, and our journey towards cultural convergence.
Admission to the Festival is free, commencing from 5pm until midnight.