From food to performing arts, Southeast Asia’s intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is an important link to our past and intrinsic to our rich cultural identity. To pay homage to the time-honoured traditions and living expressions that define and connect us across the region, the National Museum of Singapore and the Maybank Foundation will be presenting a series of four original video artworks on the Museum’s LED Wall that showcase creative contemporary responses to the theme of intangible cultural heritage (ICH).
Titled Spinning Connections: Creative Takes on Intangible Cultural Heritage, the commissioned artworks were selected from entries submitted through an Open Call exercise held between April to May last year, to foster collaboration with the artistic community to engage audiences on important contemporary issues. Each artwork highlights an aspect of ICH, namely food, dance, martial arts and storytelling, while drawing connections to the National Museum’s collection. The artworks bring contemporary resonance to the past and invite visitors to understand the present in different ways.
While ICH evolves over generations, it is also facing contemporary challenges such as rapidly changing lifestyles. These videos utilise a mix of artistic styles to inspire reflections on the enduring importance and relevance of ICH today. The four video artworks are:
- Gestures of One by Biome Entertainment that explores Singaporean cultural heritage and its global outreach through cinematic language. Referencing Chinese, Malay and Indian dance forms as an act of communication, dialogue and interaction with one another and the space, this artwork is suggestive of an interconnected heritage and seeks to welcome audiences into a dream-like experience of what unites us, with the intention to inspire harmony, solidarity and hope.
- Highlighting the importance of food as the universal ‘language’ embraced by all,Addpetizer’s Re(union) surveys the ways in which rice is used as a central ingredient across a selection of local and regional dishes. The unifying quality of the humble crop symbolises the coming together of cultures through food heritage, giving rise to a variety of dishes that form part of Singapore’s hawker and food heritage.
- Kilat Kan Silat by Paradise Pictures is driven by the desire to celebrate and bring awareness to the power and beauty of the martial art Silat Tua, which has deep roots in the culture and traditions of Southeast Asia. Inspired by the etymology of the word ‘kilat’, which could be variously read as ‘lightning’, ‘bright’ or ‘shining’, the film showcases Silat Tua as a contemporary art form and endeavours to bring the practice into the spotlight, to inspire others to appreciate and celebrate the cultural richness of Singapore and the Nusantara region.
- Meaning ‘honey' in Malay, Madu by Studio 1914 is a retelling of a fairytale from traditional Southeast Asian honey hunters, which attempts to rejuvenate our connection between our cultural heritage and nature by uncovering living linkages. The synthesised images of Madu were developed by training an artificial intelligence (AI) model on selected datasets from the National Museum of Singapore’s William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.