Conceived & Directed by Ong Keng Sen
Organized by TheatreWorks (Singapore)

The Black Box, Fort Canning Centre, Singapore
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NFA) Galleries 2 & 3
3-18 December 2004

Welcome to the 10th Anniversary of the Flying Circus Project (FCP): ‘seeing with foreign eyes’. For the first time, the FCP will see Asian artists interacting with artists from Europe and the Arab world. Come to the thinking person’s arts festival. This year, the fcp opens its doors to audiences, art students and artists by increasing the public events of this well-known artist workshop. In the continuing tradition of the FCP, all events are free.

The focus for the fifth FCP includes the literary arts, philosophy and visual art. Over 50 participants, mostly artists, thinkers and cultural workers, will gather in Singapore for two weeks to meet and dialogue. This sharing of practice will involve performances, talks, conversations, discussions, exhibitions and screenings.

Imagining Indonesia from Java
The opening conversation between rising star of islamic philosophy Ulil Abshar-Abdalla and literary doyen, public intellectual Goenawan Mohamed is not to be missed. Ulil is especially well known for his provocative interventions into public media, be it radio talk shows and full-page discussions syndicated to 40 major newspapers of Indonesia. Ulil, respected for a profound knowledge of Islamic teachings and his search for a new language to talk to clerics about liberal islam, will also host two platforms highlighting the discourse of islam. Goenawan Mohd, founder of Tempo and Utan Kayu is one of the most instrumental figures of the Indonesian creative scene. An epic figure who has fought ferocious battles for media freedom, who remains deeply convicted to the power of words. In a searing conversation touching on pluralism of islam, public morality and nationalism, they pave the way to openly discuss creativity in relation to religion, society, culture and every day life in our region. The ‘Imagining Indonesia from Java’ series is focussed on examining one specific site from different directions. It acts as a trigger to consider locality and its complex network of issues. Ayu Utami, indonesian literary sensation, famous for her books detailing the personal desires of four women, talks of her work. Her books which have been likened to the sex in the city tv series have sold like hotcakes. With record print runs, she hosts a radio show, demonstrating the media's role in the battle for a new indonesia. Nukila Amal, another lauded novelist, talks about her new book “Cala Ibi” praised for its delicious revelry of language to her female protagonist’s inner journey. In an unsurpassed chapter entitled ‘The Land’s Spell’, she parallels Indonesia’s landscape, the ethnic conflicts in the moluccas, with the restless search to understand self in Maya: “Because tonight its blackness gapes. Unlike the nights before. My entire room, ceiling wall door window, dissolve into a patch of black, like the blackness of eyes shut. It is a darkness so bright, gripping and threatening, as if wanting to swallow me into its depths...” Come enjoy the dramatised readings of both novelists by Singapore theatre pioneers Lim Kay Tong, Nora Samosir, Lok Meng Chue and the bright lights of Singapore stage, Janice Koh, Noorlinah Mohd and Serene Chen.

Identity and Pop-culture sensibility
Prominent director Jan Ritsema – “It is not how one says something, or how one does something, which is important, but rather the finding of an attitude, a reason for wanting to play this piece. Theatre happens in that unique moment where thinking and acting coincide”; the brat pack of european dance and theatre Jerome Bel, Benoit Lachambre, Fanny and Alexander; live arts pioneers Lois Keidan and the intriguing la Ribot; up and coming Barbara Kraus (since 1997 this artist has worked solely on improvisation. There have been numerous performances in the frame of "Yelling at Your Boots", a cycle of improvisation), Frederic Seguette and Otobong Nkanga descend on Singapore. Fresh from legendary Berlin Volksbuhne, Brussel PARTS, Pompidou Centre Paris, London Tate Modern, Amsterdam Rijks Academy, Vienna Tanzquartier. Emerging dancer Alexandra Bachzetsis, as part of her post graduate studies will collaborate with Singapore make “Secret Instructions”. This workshop presentation explores the concept of instruction; how it is understood, transformed; how language is coded; and how cultural background affects the interpretation by the individual.

The brilliant Paris-based, French choreographer Jerome Bel premieres his work in Asia for the first time including his newest work from Paris Opera Ballet “The Show Must Go On 2”. His “Shirtology” leaves the role of storyteller to T-shirts. It is proof that ‘less’ can mean ‘more’. It is a game with shirts and sentences, spiced with a mouthful of French humour. Bel skillfully mixes his inspirations from semiotics with minimal movements, the result being a strange course in the language of symbols and signs that may be named ‘metamorphic dance’. Using language and images, Bel speaks about identity and its place in culture. How it exists and then disappears – to exist and disappear again. Bel’s themes are as eternal as the changing seasons or surging seas. He has earned a reputation as a provocateur. Routinely challenging traditional notions of dance and theatre, his works – philosophical explorations of life through movement – have been controversial and confounding. Audiences throughout Europe have had violent reactions to his work: People have rushed the stage, angrily walked out of the theatre, or thrown crumpled programs at his dancers. But Bel’s work can also be full of charm and wit, he’s able to push audiences to ponder some heady ideas while making them accessible and entertaining through a sharply ironic pop-culture sensibility.

OPEN LAB 101204-181204
Participants of the Flying Circus, both established and promising artists, present samples of their work in a no-fuss manner at one physical site (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Gallery 2 & 3). This process showing has lines of work such as urban poetics, alienation, politics of the popular, historicisation, local transcending the global, mapping new perceptions, mythologising, travel diaires, future homelands. FCP artists include Ho Tze Nyen, Gustaff Harriman, Santiphap Inhong-nam, Forum Lenteng (Hafiz), Kill Your TV (KYTV), Nindityo Adipurnomo, Charles Lim of, Kata Sangkhae, Low Kee Hong, Mella Jarsma, Tan Khai Syng, Ariani Dharmawan, Nadiah Bamadhaj and Tin Tin Wu Lia.

SUPERINTENSE 111204-121204
Starting from late morning 11 dec to early morning 12 dec, on a rigorous schedule in two different venues, the fcp presents an amazing spectrum of attitudes, perspectives and approaches. Po Po from Myanmar (Burma) talks about contemporary art in the last fifteen years of his country. Living in Yangon (Rangoon), he continues to find dignity and courage through simply surviving and continuing to work. Born in Nigeria, Otobong Nkanga studied in Paris and Amsterdam. She will perform with giant needles, “I am interesting in showing its duality, its aspects of destruction and construction. Humanity is based on this, we are constantly destroying and building at the same time, (birth and death, destruction through war and construction after war) the traces are left behind and the waters wash them away. What remain are fragmented ruins and a failing memory of what it really was.” Architect, urban planner and activist Marco Kusumawijaya presents “Imagining Jakarta” a stimulating remapping of reality through desire and fantasy. Founders of Fanny & Alexander, Luigi de Angelis (director) and Chiara Lagani (writer) present their theatre which is based on absolute fiction, on a language inclined to lyrical forcings and never abandoned to everyday words, transfiguring literature in a theatrical ultra-world. Fanny & Alexander give theatre a hallucinogenic, literary and monumental edge, like an extreme game; adding a sort of tenderness from the funeral imaginary and a constant courtship of childhood as a myth. Navin Rawanchaikul emerged as a co-organiser of “Chiang Mai Social Installation” held in temples and cemeteries. He began using a taxicab as a space to exhibit artworks, the idea being 'to overcome the gap between contemporary art and our daily life'. For Rawanchaikul, the challenge was therefore to 'put art directly into the community'. From their fascinating collaborations at the Tate Modern in London, Lois Keidan and La Ribot present separate work in Singapore. Lois concentrates on a new education resource about performance called “The Performance Pack” and La Ribot on her new performance research. La Ribot has created award winning funny pieces that exist at the intersection of contemporary dance, live art, performance and video. Experienced live, her work creates a paradox of exact uncertainty. This paradox enthralls and draws the viewer into the intensive experience that is La Ribot! Close to midnight the programme continues with stunningly original movements theatricalized by French-Canadian dancer and choreographer Benoit LaChambre. He has managed to create a highly personal and emotional body language. Lexy Jr is an Indonesian documentary-‘no frills’-maker who has directed “Mass Grave: Indonesia” which is the first documentary to cover the 1965-66 Red massacre, “Indonesian Student Revolt. Don’t Follow Leaders” in 2003 and recently a moving documentary about the widows of Ambon who have lost their husbands in the civil war in Aceh.

My Neck is Thinner than My Hair
The arab world has dominated our news headlines for the last five years but in Singapore, we have hardly encountered artists from this region. With two major productions from Beirut and the unprecedented invitation to three individuals from East Jersualem, Palestine; the fcp hopes to redress this unbalance. Jack Pesekian, curator of the Sharjah (the Emirates) Biennale, director of El Ma’mal Foundation, gives an overview of contemporary expression in the Arab World with his “Diary of Disorientation”. Raeda Saadeh, a visual artist who performs her specific position as a Palestinian woman and Jumana Abboud, a painter and video artist, will talk about their work. Jumana’s work has ached with the exiled Palestinian’s desire to return to the homeland. Stills from her video “Arabic Pins and Swiss Caps” about pleasure and pain were splashed all around Berlin as a poster last year. The final two productions have taken contemporary art centres by storm throughout Europe, the US and back home in Beirut; making art stars of the creators. “Biokhraphia” performed by Lina Saneh is about the positioning of theatre, sexuality, and censorship. It questions and confronts the role of certain social and political taboos rooted in Lebanese society, without any pretence to answer questions put forth. “Biokhraphia” manipulates eternal and sacred truths, and stands at the edge of the abyss of doubt, ambiguity, uncertainty. It procreates images of the artist that accumulate infinitely into layers, superimposing themselves upon themselves, obscuring the thin line between reality and fiction. As indicated by its title, “Biokhraphia” is a pun on biography and the Arabic term ‘kharaphia’ signifying delirium, legends, senility, and shit. Her co-creator Rabih Mroue will make a special talk about his latest work “Looking for a Missing Employee”. He is interested in using documents of actuality to understand how rumours, public accusations, national political conflicts and scandals, as shaped by print media, act on the public sphere. In this work, actuality acquires a timeless value; it is stripped of its informative value to emphasise its cultural and political significance. The Atlas Group, led by Walid Ra’ad shot to fame at Documenta 11 curated by Okwui Enwelzor. Since then it has not looked back. Their most recent work makes its Asian premiere in Singapore. Created in collaboration with architect Tony Chakar and editor Bilal Khbeiz it is the culmination of the 10th anniversary fcp: “My Neck Is Thinner Than My Hair: A history of car bombs in the Lebanese Wars (1975-1991)”. Between 1975 and 1991, 245 car bombs exploded in Lebanon killing thousands, injuring tens of thousands and causing unspeakable darnage in the neighbourhoods of Lebanon’s major cities. With this project, The Atlas Group produces a history of the events, experience, stories and knowledge that surround the car bombs. Through research and study, The Atlas Group will present what was being said, believed, known and made public about each of the 245 car bombs.

Ong Keng Sen


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