Fringe 2018: Let's Walk
M1 SINGAPORE FRINGE FESTIVAL 2018: LET'S WALK
Let's Walk is the first in a series of Fringe instalments themed around iconic Singaporean artists and their signature works. Each year we will nominate an artist and a selected work, and invite artists from a range of disciplines from Singapore and around the world to respond to them with their own new or existing works. Through the borrowing of their work, we aim to honour the artist and recognise and build on the lasting universal significance and resonance of his or her work.
The 2018 theme Let's Walk comes from the title of a series of striking street performances by eminent Singaporean contemporary artist, Amanda Heng.
For Fringe 2018, we invite you to consider this culturally significant work by one of our most important artists. Amanda began this series in 1999 and peformed the work in Singapore, Japan, France, Poland, Indonesia, Sweden and Spain.
Amanda Heng has worked in a range of mediums, and perhaps her most notable works such as Let's Walk are so immediately engaging and participatory. While charmingly simple in form, they are arresting and deeply effective in drawing much needed attention to some of the most important social concerns of our times.
Let's Walk is one of a series of walking performances that she has created over the years. The walks are designed and carried out with spectacular simplicity and intimacy, managing to carry both the potent provocation of a protest, and the peaceful contemplation of a walking meditation. From the title itself, Amanda clearly signals her invitation to engage, connect, collaborate and move forward.
Let's Walk invited us all to think about the beauty business, and the lack of progress for women in society. In her performance, she had members of the public join her in walking backwards along the streets with high-heeled shoes in their mouths, while trying to guide themselves with handheld mirrors.
Amanda created the work in response to a range of worrying trends she was concerned about in the late 1990s, and are still concerns to this day. In 1997, Asia had been hit hard with a financial crisis. Many people lost their jobs and businesses, but women seemed to be the first to get retrenched.
Curiously and disturbingly, the beauty business did especially well at this time, as women were pressured to look better than their natural best. In Amanda's own words, "A lot of Singaporean women were 'upgrading' themselves, going to beauty salons, having plastic surgery and so on to keep their jobs. A woman's looks are still worth more than her abilities."
So in tribute to Amanda's work, to this work in particular, and to the many important ideas and questions it evokes, we have invited Singapore and international artists to propose their own works, to build on the provocations in Let's Walk.
Fringe 2018 will be presenting a series of progressive works that voice the concerns of today. These explore themes of gender, beauty, inequality, injustice, economics, and more, in a variety of disciplines.
Look out for a range of stimuli that we will be sharing at Fringe 2018 that can build on the spirit of concern and creation inherent in Amanda Heng's Let's Walk.
So, let’s walk.
Sean Tobin Artistic Director M1 Singapore Fringe Festival