Substation to mark 25 years with month-long celebration

Substation to mark 25 years with month-long celebration
The Substation, a 21-year-old arts centre, in Armenian Street.

The Substation, the indie arts space carved out from a disused electric substation in 1990, will mark its 25th anniversary here with a month-long celebration of arts events that kicks off at the end of next month.

Its annual Septfest will fete The Substation's history though a series of music events, film screenings, exhibitions, a conference and a special nocturnal audio tour.

There will be newly commissioned works from practitioners formerly supported by The Substation's programmes, such as visual artist Robert Zhao and performance artist Daniel Kok. Septfest will also screen short regional films as part of the Asian Film Symposium.

The night-time tour, titled Hearing Things: Ghosts Of The Substation, will for the first time grant visitors unprecedented full access to the building on Armenian Street, including restricted areas such as the basement.

At the Central Library, an archival exhibition of The Substation will examine its past, present and future, and is accompanied by a similarly themed arts conference.

This recalls the vision originally set out by its founder, the late theatre giant Kuo Pao Kun, who envisioned it as a home for the arts, where practitioners from the margins and the mainstream could gather to debate and create.

The arts centre's most recent artistic director, Noor Effendy Ibrahim, stepped down in January. Responding to queries from Life, a spokesman for The Substation said that the search for its next artistic director "has taken longer than anticipated" and declined to say when the new candidate would be announced.

At Septfest, the arts centre will also launch an anniversary book of photo and essay contributions from artists, writers, curators and managers who have strong links to The Substation. The book is edited by its former artistic co-director Audrey Wong.

These include submissions from practitioners such as Alvin Tan, artistic director of theatre company The Necessary Stage. Its 1990 play about education, Those Who Can't, Teach, by playwright Haresh Sharma, was the first production to grace The Substation's stage.

Echoing a sentiment in his essay, Tan says: "There was a lot of constant networking at The Substation. But later, as Armenian Street gentrified, the National Library was demolished and some eateries closed down, that spontaneous networking was dismantled."


WHEN: Aug 28 to Sept 27 ADMISSION: Various ticketed events, go to for more information.

This article was first published on July 10, 2015.
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