100 FALL/WINTER 2013
When street style is becoming as influential as what’s on the runways, the most important catwalk trends are the ones that introduce change.
REBELS, ARTISTS, INNOVATORS, PARTY PLANNERS, COLLABORATORS AND EVERYONE GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN – WE COULD ALL USE A BIT MORE CRAZY.
One is more likely to become an astronaut than a winner at the world’s most famous film festival. It certainly helps if you’re able to make – in director Chen’s words – “a sincere and truthful film”.
Female featured the filmmaker 18 months ago on the back of his other short film triumphs: a Golden Bear nomination for Haze (not about you-know-what), and a special distinction award for Ah Ma at Cannes in 2007. But this latest win for Ilo Ilo is, of course, the big enchilada.
“I think there was an honesty and universality to the film that moved the selectors and, eventually, the jury. I set out to make as good and sincere a film as I could, so it wasn’t like, let’s make a film for a festival or to win awards,” he told Female recently.
It’s often the most personal films that resonate the most, and something about Ilo Ilo – a story about a family of three and their Filipino maid, set during the 1997 Asian financial crisis – touched a chord with many. According to Chen: “[During the private formal dinner] one of the jury members came up to me discreetly and said, ‘I’m not supposed to speak to you, but I have to tell you how much I really love your film.’ That made my night!”
Chen, who is now based in London, is travelling the world promoting Ilo Ilo before returning for its Singapore premiere on Aug 29. Then, it’s our turn to show him love.
Ruben Pang, 23, leads a double life. By day, he is a full-time national serviceman; by night, he is a painter with a rising reputation. It’s been a good year for Pang: His abstract technicolor paintings have already caught the attention of galleries overseas. In February, he made his first international solo debut at an exhibition held at Primae Noctis Art Gallery in Lugano, Switzerland.
More recently, he sold a painting for more than $10,000 at regional auction house 33 Auction – a record price for the Lasalle College of the Arts graduate who left school just three years ago with a diploma in fine art.
There is no doubt about Pang’s talent: In 2009, he received the National Arts Council’s Georgette Chen Arts Scholarship, and in 2011, held his first solo exhibition at Chan Hampe Galleries at Raffles Hotel. In 2012, the Singapore Art Museum featured his paintings in an exhibition titled The Singapore Show: Future Proof.
Despite the accolades, this son of a sculptor father and lecturer mother only started painting in 2007, and has remained humble. “I’m just lucky, I guess,” Pang says with a boyish smile.
Luck aside, Pang’s success can perhaps be attributed to his approach of keeping his paintings cohesive. “There is no secret to making it big, you just have to keep your work intact because people want to get an idea of your practice as a whole,” he explains.
Pang’s works can be seen at Chan Hampe Galleries at Raffles Hotel and Primo Marella Gallery in Milan.
Artists ought to do a few things. They should defy logic (“How did you do this?”); they must challenge perceptions (“Hmm, I’ve never thought of it like that…”); and they should raise questions (“What’s with all the dead fish?!”).
In Cheok’s resin art, he’s done all this and more. A glance at this former graphic designer’s painstaking but persuasive artwork prompts gasps of bafflement and wonder. What you’re looking at are incredibly lifelike animals swimming in water, yet seemingly frozen – all rendered by days of resin layering.
“The water creatures that I draw on resin have to be as close to the real thing as possible – in size, proportion and look – if not, the entire art piece fails. My goal is to create works of art of the highest degree and standard, ” the 49-year-old explains.
He uses a technique created by Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori – a skill Cheok picked up a year ago – and the sensei challenged him to create a better version of the artwork. It is a time-consuming process where acrylic paint and resin are used to create the 3-D work. Each layer (which takes hours to set) has to dry before the next can be painted on. Just a simple piece the size of a rice bowl can take up to five days. Arduous, but so fun to look at.
Cheok’s fame is steadily growing, but he’s still adamant that he won’t sell his work, even though his Facebook page is filled with requests by fans all wanting a piece of his art. Which prompts another question: “Why not?”
He’s the kind of guy you wish was out of a job – this job (like if there were no diseases, we wouldn’t miss doctors). But unfortunately, Ng has his hands full running Acres, the animal protection organisation, which is short-staffed, under-funded, and privy to some crazy animal trafficking that happens here.
“People have tried to smuggle monkeys in suitcases, bring snakes in their carry-ons, sell illegal birds online, and even put tortoises in Tupperware to fool immigration,” says Ng.
Part of his mission is to educate the public, care for abandoned animals, and repatriate the rescued ones, but a lot of time is spent helping government agencies with raids on traffickers.
“What’s scary is that animal trafficking is trending, because the penalties aren’t as severe as drug smuggling – ’cause they only pay a fine.” Legislation is out of his hands, but with what he has, Ng is fighting the good fight.
If you’ve never viewed any Ted.com videos, and are not familiar with its mission to “spread ideas”, then think of the brand’s worldwide talks – described by Geri Kan, one of Singapore’s curators for the annual TedxSingapore (Tedx is anything designed at a local level, like TedxBroadway, even TedxKatong if you like) conference – “as one big, global kampung. You go to an event not knowing 90 per cent of the people, but it’s amazing how ever yone wants to know more, and figure out how others are making a difference and how they can too.”
A Ted talk is in essence authentic storytelling, and its 1,400-plus clips of amazing talks have been viewed more than a billion times.
Since 2010, these women (all volunteers) have helped platform 23 Ted x Singapore women speakers and artists over three events, giving voice to women from myriad disciplines: design, architecture, martial arts, dance and more. They have even featured a Mount Everest climber, and the world’s oldest Tedx speaker – 113-year-old Teresa Hsu, who spoke about the need to always be active, cheerful, and to give back to the community.
Grace Clapham, a brand consultant, adds: “We (curators) are able to shed new light on the speaker’s topics. When you’re used to working in your field, you sometimes can’t see things from a new perspective, so that’s where we help. This gives the speakers a new burst of energy and sparks ideas.”
We are in an era of relentless sharing (watch your friends with their smartphones during dinner), but a Tedx event is where the best ideas are being spread to inspire all of us (seriously, go watch).
They’re keeping the kampung spirit alive – one stor y at a time – but hauling it up by its bootstraps into the 21st centur y through technology, innovation and imagination.
The 23-year-old NUS undergrad is happy to be a talent broker who uses his website to help creatives collaborate – hooking up poets, musicians, bagmakers and pastry chefs. Through networking and astute research, he creates a directory of indie talents from different backgrounds and professions on his website (Collab)² (say “collab square”).
Those that make the cut – “they have to be really great at what they do or simply unique” – are featured in profile interviews. And if anyone is keen to kick off a project with the names he spotlights, Chien will set up a meet. What’s more impressive is that Chien does all the interviews, shoots the portraits and designs the website.
He has featured more than 40 names since February 2012, but treats the project more as a hobby than anything else. “I’ve always been a curious person and I love to start conversations with others. I want to take it a step further by sparking new ideas,” he says.
The three-week-long event Displacements last June that comprised art exhibitions, house parties and a movie screening was his most memorable gig to date. He hooked up four music acts for the event, held at a 77-year-old bungalow at Wilkie Terrace. “It was a oncein-a-lifetime experience. To be surrounded by art students, established artists and performers for a project – I can’t ask for anything better.”
Who’s behind it: Two guys behind a local trend consulting firm who prefer to remain unnamed, but have such a rep for hosting out-of-the-box parties that names like whiskey brand Glenmorangie and the Singapore Art Museum have approached them to co-organise events. What you’re in for: Imagine a house party where the decor is makeshift, drinks are served from paper cups and the DJ decks are helmed by local and international industry insiders, many of whom contribute to Rightclicka’s online magazine Dope.sg. Who goes: The art and fashion crowd. Tracy Phillips, Jasmine Tuan (Blackmarket owner) and model Charmaine Harn have all been spotted at previous events. Why drop by: Rightclicka nights are known for their unexpected locations (past venues have included a Geylang shophouse and office penthouse) and $10 killer cocktails. Did we add that entry is free? The next party: Find out... Be a “friend” of Dope.sg’s Facebook presence, Mrdope Singapore, for details.
Who’s behind it: Alyssa Kokilah and Josaiah Chong, founders of house and techno deejay booking agency Aligned. Between them, they’ve had work experience at nearly every major club in town. Lifestyle mogul/Spa Esprit Group CEO Cynthia Chua joined in this year, handling business and operations. What you’re in for: Electronic dance nights with an industrial feel that showcase under-the-radar DJs from around the globe. The latest edition, Super 0 Season, was a multidisciplinary affair held across four Saturdays in April at Gillman Barracks, and included light installations and a silent disco (where partygoers danced to music broadcast on wireless headphones). Entry fees vary. Who goes: Serious music fans like DJ Brendon P and Keith Colaco (aka DJ KFC) plus the hip set (read: the type of folks you’ll see at Tanjong Beach Club and all the Spa Esprit F&B joints). Why drop by: It’ll make you think that you’re in a (nice) underground club in Berlin. The next party: Slated for November with “a food element and bigger art aspect”. Visit facebook.com/ super0sg for news.
Cirrus (2013), 69 x 99 cm
Metabolic (2013), 128 x 86.5 cm
Pang paints from his living room, which has been converted into a studio.
One of the intricate
designs from Cheok’s debut collection Alive Without Breath