BWW Previews: THE O.P.E.N. 2017

"The overall effect of enchantment is a mood of fullness, plenitude, or liveliness, a sense of having had one's nerves or circulation or concentration powers turned up or recharged - a shot in the arm, a fleeting return to childlike excitement about life."

~ Jane Bennett, The Enchantment of Modern Life, 2001

Inaugurated in 1977, Singapore's annual art festival went on a hiatus after 2012. Under the baton of Festival Director Ong Keng Sen, it made its artistically reinvigorated return as Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) in 2014. He too initiated The O.P.E.N., a pre-festival of ideas to Open, Participate, Engage, Negotiate the breadth of issues and perspectives inspired by SIFA's annual festival theme. From 'Legacy and the Expanded Classic', 'Post-Empires' and 'Potentialities', the 2017 edition has selected the theme of 'Enchantment' as a reaction to the disenchanting world events that has plagued the globe.

The O.P.E.N. has inadvertently been regarded as the entrée to the main course of SIFA. While much hype and limelight surrounds the premier national festival of SIFA, the programming of The O.P.E.N. hides in the shadow of its bigger counterpart. In spite of this, The O.P.E.N. has continually offered a slew of engaging programmes each year, co-curated by Ong Keng Sen himself, The O.P.E.N. director Noorlinah Mohamed and producer Tan Bee Thiam (for O.P.E.N. Films) with the access of a single pass. Those who bemoan that the arts are a luxury can look no further than the affordably priced O.P.E.N. pass at SGD45 or its concession pass at SGD25. In fact, this may be the last time The O.P.E.N. will be held. Given that the role of Festival Director will be handed to artistic director of Singapore Repertory Theatre, Gaurav Kriplani, after this year's edition, it remains a question mark if the legacy of The O.P.E.N. would continue on under his direction.

While that remains to be answered, one can still be enchanted by this year's offerings. The following 3 choices are my top editorial picks for your consideration.


BWW Previews: THE O.P.E.N. 2017
Image Courtesy of The O.P.E.N.

28th, 29th June

Opening the festival, ART AS RES PUBLICAE marks a historic moment in Singapore where public discussants will be engaged in an open dialogue on a central question referred to them. ART AS RES PUBLICAE loosely defined as art as public interests poses the question: what is the intangible value of an artwork? Aimed at understanding what an artwork is this public education programme assesses whether an artwork raises our consciousness for living in a republic. By exploring distinct artworks to generate deliberative reflection, civic consciousness will be brought to the fore to help better understand what the artworks are about. This event comes at a prime time as allegedly controversial art works, such as the gold foil staircase by Priyageetha Dia and School of the Art's unsanctioned art installation of paper planes, have been making headlines in Singapore and remain salient in the public's consciousness.


BWW Previews: THE O.P.E.N. 2017
Image Courtesy of Akanga Film Asia

30th June, 1st, 2nd July
Friday & Saturday: 7pm - 10.30pm
Sunday: 2pm - 5.30pm
Secret venue to be disclosed

LIZARD ON THE WALL is a once in a lifetime experience to be part of the work on an internationally award-wining auteur. LIZARD ON THE WALL is the latest film by Singaporean director K. Rajagopal of A Yellow Bird fame, and will be created with The O.P.E.N. audiences. This film is inspired by Balli Kaur Jaswal's celebrated novel "Inheritance" - Amrit's festive wedding celebration in the family house takes an unexpected turn when scandalous secrets come to light and the guests (The O.P.E.N. audiences) are made to confront the shameful truths of a double life. This one-of-a-kind interactive performance, staged and filmed over three nights allows you to participate fully as the cast. Not only will you get to be immersed in the magic of movie-making, you would be a part of a definitive moment for both Singapore literature and cinema. Will this risky artistic gamble have a huge pay off? Be part of it and find out at the red-carpet gala held as the closing event for SIFA 2017.


BWW Previews: THE O.P.E.N. 2017
Image Courtesy of Jeannie Ho

8th - 30th July
Tues, Thursday, Friday: 6.30pm
Saturday: 10.30am, 6.30pm
Sunday: 10.30am, 5pm
Various Locations

When it comes to Singaporeans, regardless of language, race and religion, what binds us as a community is our shared love of food. This is echoed by the philosophy of Lebanese culinary activist Kamal Mouzawak's Make Food Not War (part of O.P.E.N.) and it is this tenet that O.P.E.N. KITCHENS rest on. Collaboratively created by Noorlinah Mohamed and home cooks around Singapore, it offers stories, shared moments and affection for food that is central to our identities as Singaporeans. A delightful spectrum of home cooks scattered around Singapore, from Aljunied to Yishun, will open their kitchens to host a participatory encounter where the audience is invited to join in the cooking of the food. It is a delightful opportunity to come together as a community and make food that is seasoned with memories, salted with tears, spiced with laughter and garnished with love.

The O.P.E.N. and SIFA 2017 is on from 28 June-9 September. The O.P.E.N. Pass ($45) lets you enjoy access to all O.P.E.N. events (conditions apply) and 25% off tickets to SIFA 2017 productions. For ticketing details and the full programme, visit

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From This Author Shannen Tan

Shannen Tan hails from the sunny island city-state of Singapore. She is a soon-to-be graduate and will be armed with a Bachelors in Psychology and (read more...)

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