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11 January 2022 – Time Present, Time Past at DECK

Ever watched a “Wayang”, or traditional Chinese street opera performance? There probably aren’t many of us today who can say we have!

Yet this richly expressive art form was once popular entertainment for the masses. Brought here by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, it was performed on makeshift outdoor stages, often on the grounds of Chinese temples, as part of religious or customary festivals and celebrations.

In more recent times, Chinese street opera has, sadly, waned in favour – the appeal of its distinctive music, elaborate costumes and makeup, stylised gestures and facial expressions lost on contemporary audiences more attuned to K-Pop and waacking.

Time Present, Time Past, part of Singapore Art Week 2022, is an effort by DECK and 5 artists to understand, engage with and, hopefully, interest contemporary audiences in “Wayang”. Through paintings, photographs, installations and sound, they offer fresh perspectives on this traditional art form. Scroll through the pics and captions for more.

The show opens today and runs till 28 January, with interesting weekend programmes offering encounters with the artists as well as Chinese opera troupe performers.

Lai Yu Tong’s 10 hands and a story of the world, a set of photographic sculptures which draw inspiration from the elegant and expressive hand gestures of Chinese opera. Yenting Hsu’s sound work Relisten, Retell envelopes viewers as they walk through the space, lending an additional sensory layer to the experience.