In Spite Of the pandemic, popular public arts festival ARTWALK Little India (ARTWALK) returns to celebrate the rich heritage of the precinct from 22 January to 6 February 2021, demonstrating how art continues to fuel and inspire even in challenging times. Held in conjunction with Singapore Art Week, this year’s festival will be presented in a hybrid format for the first time, featuring both digital and on-site programmes.
“As our country moves into a gradual reopening, the vibrant stories, sights and sounds of the festival will be uplifting for many after close to a year of isolation. We hope that through this shared experience of ARTWALK, people can find comfort, understanding and remain connected to one another as a community,” said Milenko Prvački, Senior Fellow, LASALLE College of the Arts. He was the impetus for the festival’s inaugural showing in 2015 and has seen the festival through many editions. Together with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), with the support of Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, they guide a group of 12 BA(Hons) Arts Management students in organising the festival.
Ms Serene Tan, Director, Arts & Cultural Precincts, Singapore Tourism Board said: “We are pleased to welcome ARTWALK Little India for the seventh year running, this time with a new hybrid format. Aptly themed ‘In Spite Of’, this year’s festival will continue to enliven Little India through rich storytelling and vibrant artwork, and allow locals to rediscover Little India. There is something for everyone, and we encourage visitors to explore the festival’s diverse offerings.”
Kicking things off for ARTWALK 2021 is pioneering Bhangra company Jigri Yaar Bhangra, which commemorates its 35th year in the industry with a special performance. Filmed around iconic spots in Little India, viewers will witness the powerful energy of this dance reverberating through their screens when they tune in via Facebook. Carrying this same vitality is Bollywood Zumba with Theeya, a live Zoom class that promises an intense workout to popular Bollywood tunes. For child-friendly fun, a workshop not to be missed is Spiced Up Motifs. Through an activity kit that includes stencils and cooking spices, families will create motifs used in Indian textiles in this sensory play.
Other online offerings include festival favourites such as master storyteller Kamini Ramachandran who will recount tales tied to the old cattle industry at Serangoon Road and the Thaipusam procession of Little India, and Monster Day Tours who will take audiences on a virtual walk to discover the many murals and places of interest in the precinct.
For those who prefer to stretch their legs, visitors can take a walk to view six new artworks in the heritage precinct, including a community wall along Upper Dickson Road. Artist Khairulddin Wahab weaves reflections submitted by residents and migrant workers who frequent the area into a large-scale mural. Also on display along Clive Street are several life-sized frames in the shape of human figures. This fixed installation by Milenko Prvački invites visitors to take photos while engaging with the socially distanced frames.
This year also sees ARTWALK’s first international collaboration between Indian artist Bhajju Shyam, a recipient of the Padma Shri (one of India’s highest civilian awards), and Singaporean urban artist Sam Lo. Brought together by the St+art India Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in India that works on public art projects, this fusion of traditional Indian art form Gond with contemporary lines stands boldly at seven storeys tall on the façade of Broadway Hotel (195 Serangoon Road).
Full details of programmes and on-site artworks can be found at http://artwalklittleindia.sg, which also includes a retrospective showcase of all past festivals, capturing the scale of which the festival has grown over the years since its first edition in 2015.