The Substation revealed its first full-scale theme and programme since the announcement of future directions under new Artistic Director, Alan Oei. Is That All There Is? is comprised of three month-long chapters: a takeover by Post-Museum in September, a playful shifting of spaces and functions in November, and a programme of activities designed by a co-op in February.
The catalyst for the programme was the multiple open sessions leading up to The Substation Town Hall (March 2016) where issues such as discourse, transparency, plurality, and experimentation were intensely debated. For Oei, the discussions revealed more than a deep sense of ownership of The Substation by the arts community; they also exposed a general anxiety about art in Singapore.
“While the government has heavily invested in the arts and culture in promoting Singapore as a global city for the arts, the investment has naturally come with strings attached. We fear the arts are instrumentalised, and the ways in which the public engage with art have become more limited, rather than expanded. We also fear The Substation is losing its unique identity within this cultural landscape. These perfectly valid concerns shouldn’t be papered over,” ~ Alan Oei, Artistic Director, The Substation
Is That All There Is? is fuelled not only by the arts community’s questions, but also by all of our expectations and ambitions for the arts. How do we negotiate the rhetoric and values of the global city? Why and how do we make art? How should art spaces be run? What good are the arts? These questions are not easily answered, and it’s our hope that with this programme, these questions will loom even larger.
CHAPTER I: SURVEY: Space, Sharing, Haunting by Post-Museum
Date: 1 – 30 September 2016, mostly free, prior registration required.
Opening hours: Daily except Mondays and Public Holidays. Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday: 12pm - 9pm, Friday to Saturday: 12pm - 12am
Arts collective Post-Museum will take over The Substation, occupying its premises to present their own programme SURVEY: Space, Sharing, Haunting. Through over 30 talks, workshops, exhibitions and activity stations, SURVEY invites audiences to examine and reflect upon the state of the arts and culture in Singapore.
CHAPTER II: A Home for the Arts
Date: 1 – 30 November 2016, free to attend
Taking a playful approach to space, venue, and function, we are reimagining what our 25-year-old tagline, ‘A Home for the Arts’, might represent in today’s cultural economy. Inevitably, this experiment also asks how we value, engage and participate in the arts.
CHAPTER III: The Co-op
Date: 1 – 28 February 2017, free to attend
A research inquiry into the co-operative model, The Co-op tests if an arts centre can tangibly embody the values of openness and plurality by inviting a diverse range of participants to be stakeholders and co-authors of the site for one month.
Venue: The Substation, 45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936