This September, Singaporeans will be invited to settle their disputes through a favourite local pastime – by facing off in a karaoke contest.
Karaoke Court, by London-based Singaporean artist Jack Tan, will take place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts. It is part of his first major solo exhibition, titled How to do things with rules – an immersive multimedia, performative and participatory experience that challenges our understanding of rules and their construction, socially, emotionally and legally.
Inspired by the Arctic Eskimo and Inuit tradition of Song Duels, where litigants presented grievances to the entire community for judgment in the form of humorous and satirical song, participants in Karaoke Court resolve their cases by singing karaoke in front of an audience who will decide who wins. The processes and decision of the Karaoke Court are made legally binding via the participants’ signing of an arbitration contract.
In the lead-up to Karaoke Court, the Earl Lu Gallery at ICA Singapore will be transformed into a Clerk’s office, where litigants may file their cases, complete with a resource area containing books and information about singing and law. Singing lessons will be provided to participants in advance, and they will be decked out in costumes and accessories produced specially for Karaoke Court by LASALLE Level 2 BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles students.
Karaoke Court was first produced at The Gowlett Pub in Peckham, South London, in March 2014, and will make its Singapore debut at the ICA Singapore on 5 September. Litigants include a pair of best friends who disagree on each other’s taste in jazz and hip-hop music, and a music teacher and her student in dispute on how often she needs to practice.
“We usually perceive litigation as a negative experience – one which corrodes relationships and goodwill, one which divides rather than unites. Karaoke Court turns that on its head. It is constructive, not destructive; through humour and performance, it encourages cohesion,” said Tan, who will play the role of the Clerk. “The work is embedded within community practices and spaces, and does not simply attempt to make new art but rather, to create new social norms. I’m excited to be back here presenting Karaoke Court to a home crowd.”
Other highlights of How to do things with rules include Art School Surgery, a life coaching session for individuals and small groups that adopts the rules of art as an approach to life, and Conference, a bookable conference table with unique decision making aids. Using the gallery as a social and exhibition space, Tan presents new and recent performance, performatives, sculpture, video, participatory works that reimagine social customs and rituals.
The exhibition will open on Friday 14 August at 6.30pm with A kiss is just a kiss, a performance in which the artist “blesses” the gallery through various acts of kissing. It runs through to 29 September at the ICA Singapore.
Exhibition: How to do things with rules
Exhibition Opening: Fri 14 Aug, 6.30pm
Karaoke Court: Sat 5 Sep, 6.30pm, Amphitheatre
Venue: Earl Lu Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940
Opening Hours: 12pm – 7pm, Tue to Sun (Closed on Mondays and public holidays)