Art writing is normally regarded as a solitary activity. A writer first puts his/her words on paper, then he/she engages in thinking and providing feedback to him/herself, before putting words back onto the paper again. This process of rethinking, rewriting, retyping informs a writer that reflection is ever so important in the process of working out a piece of effective communique. For the public needs information on the processes of art-making, the aesthetics in appreciating an artist’s intention, and the social impact an art-work has on the very location they are working in. Art critic Lee Weng Choy, in his writing 5 Entries(1), summarised, cogently, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s questioning on the attributing thinking to the head(2), where two questions were raised, “Where does thinking actually take place? And what exactly is “thinking”? He was interested in how “we have been manipulating signs with meanings” (Lee). Besides locating thinking in our heads, according to Lee Weng Choy, it might be less misleading to say that thinking takes place with pen or paper.
Daniel K — A Young Artist Award recipient in 2008 and among The Straits Times’ “Faces to Watch” in 2007 — works with lighting designer Fujimoto Takayuki (aka Kinsei) from Dumb Type and sound artist Chong Li-Chuan for this multi-media dance performance.
The never-ending debate on whether design and art could co-exist is still going on; mainly in the struggle between the definition of the terminologies in creation, for one focuses on the function of the creative piece of work, while the other the creator’s relationship with the world around him/her. I initiated this conversation with fellow colleague in the Lasalle College of the Arts Edith Podesta on her most recent art-work (I deliberately chose this term against “drama”, “play” and “production”) Eurydice running from 6 to 8 September 2010 in the flexible performance space in the college campus we both worked in. In the lift travelling down to the cafe downstairs, I posited the question, “Using a highly designed theatre space adds aesthetic value to the piece, but it will also draw criticism, with the main charge being “become overly pretentious”. Again, whether the piece of theatre is pretentious or not, lies in the experience it generates for the audience, put aptly by director Edith Podesta: audience experience should go back to the days of Shakespearean theatre where they should be moved by what they are seeing on stage, where the human experience is at its full.
Velocity, where narratives are non-existent, leaving a concept of speed in movement in the dance space. In Taiwanese dance writer Zhou Zhi-Mu’s ( 鄒之牧) words in her nomination statement for the group in the 2008 Taishin Arts Award (as translated): the work has departed from the traditional narrative structure of dance, boldly using a concept as a hinge to creation, through the use of theatre design, fusing with concept and body, formulating a feast of abstract and realistic images.
There is no fair review in this world, for it is written by a biased individual, with his/her own aesthetic taste. To review Singapore theatre company Theatreworks Artistic Director Ong Keng Sen’s newest work-in-progress Red Ballerina as a non-event is in itself an uneventful endeavour. For I would be totally missing the point by going on to talk about the execution of the work by actors Karen Tan and Lim Kay Tong. How could I review a work-in-progress? It is not even completed yet. But the performance was presented to an audience, quite many of us actually, not to mention a performance run over the next one or two days. The work spoke to us. To respond to it seems fair.