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French Festival Singapore Voilah! Returns

By Edric  /  05 Apr 2018 (Thursday)

Voilah! is set to return this April with an exciting line-up of over 20 arts and cultural programmes at Voilah! French Festival Singapore 2018, as France and Singapore pay homage to 10 years of cultural cooperation and exchange this year. The highly-anticipated festival returns from 1st April to 5th May, highlighting the best of French-Singapore partnerships and innovation in the arts, culture, and science. From exploring visual arts, film, and music through new technologies and techniques, to thought-provoking showcases spotlighting issues of our time, this year's festival offers something for everyone.

"Voilah! has become a veritable annual celebration of the long-standing friendship that France and Singapore share." Said HE Marc Abensour, the French Ambassador to Singapore, "Beyond a colourful display of creative expressions, the festival is, more importantly, a key platform for knowledge-sharing and collaboration between both communities, especially towards issues that matter. Voilah! 2018 invites everyone to join in its spirit of discovery and breaking boundaries, and it is my hope that each festival-goer leaves inspired and emboldened to effect change for the future."

First Singapore Patron for French Culture
Reflective of the briding of two communities, Voilah! has named respected local thespian and personality, Hossen Leong, its first Singaporean Patron for French Culture. An artistic tour de force, Hossan helped to bring French arts and culture closer to home for many Singaporean through his works, and in 2010, was conferred the Chevalier de I'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

Unique French-Singapore collaborations
Leong opened this year's festival last Sunday with his first-ever collaboration with French artist Jean Lambert-Wild and juggler Martin Palisse. The Rock's Clown is an outdoor visual mixing poetry and humour with circus antics and a dash of Greek mythology, as the character of Sisyphus is brought to life in and around the Gardens by the Bay's Dragonfly Lake. The one-night-only performance will be the last of Jean's Clown Parleur (The Talking Clown) trilogy.

Sound artist and composer Tarek Atoui is also in Singapore to present his first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia, The Ground: From the Land to the Sea. His presentation - a spatial composition that comprises various sounds, instruments, music, and new technologies - includes an aural collection with unique Singapore sounds, recorded at local harbours and waterfronts. At the core of Atoui's practice is an on-going process of inviting composers and artists to collaborate on his pieces, in search of new ideas, gestures, and experiences. He joins local sound artists and musicians, Vivian Wang and Yuen Chee Wai, music curator Mark Wong, and French drummer and electro-acoustic composer, Uriel Barthélémi, to interact and create their own interpretations of his composition within the exhibition.

Inspiring a new generation of young local performers, acclaimed French choreographers Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet (Les gens d'Uterpan) have worked with the graduating dance students from LASALLE College of the Arts (School of Dance and Theatre) to present Prologue - a newly-commissioned work premiering on 6th April. A poignant piece reflecting the serendipity of the crossing of paths, the performance will be showcased as part of the students' graduation showcase.

A Spotlight on Innovation

Voilah! 2018 also turns the spotlight towards today's issues, presenting different perspectives through new techniques and technologies. 

In an age of rapidly-developing technologies, there is a constant discussion on the limitless possibilities of innovation. Yves Gellie confronts festival-goers with an inside look at the development of humanoid technology. He presents the world premiere of Human Version, a photo exhibition that dives into the world of scientific research laboratories dedicated to the development of robots, or humanoids. The exhibition ponders the fate of humankind, yet is also an unnerving ode to the increasingly-close relationship shared by man and robots today.

Going a step further, Mathieu Briand will bring the laboratory into the National Design Centre, making science fiction a reality in his debut performance exhibition, A-DROYX. Over the 12 days, the artist will create his very own child-like humanoids from scratch, and visitors are invited to watch and interact as he designs, models, and programmes his creations to life.

A Spotlight on Our Environment

As a nod towards Singapore's Year of Climate Action this year, Michel Rawick's photo exhibition, Touched by the Cold, will steer the conversation on climate change. The impassioned French photographer spent the last 20 years documenting the plight of wildlife in the poles - a region that bears the brunt of current environmental concerns. Festival -goers will be transported to the depths of the Arctic by the retrospective photograph series, all in the artist's hopes of igniting climate change discussions and a greater awareness on the importance of conserving nature's beauty.

Botanist Francis Halle, on the other hand, has spent close to 50 years documenting the flora and fauna of rainforests and gardens around the world through detailed hand-drawn sketches. Botanical Notes is an exposition of Francis's life's work, reflecting the importance and impact that his drawings have had on the fragile, fast-changing natural landscapes of the world.

A Spotlight on Asian Arts and Civilisations

For the first time, a selection of masterpieces from the collection of Paris' Musee Guimet - Europe's leading museum of Asian art - will be traveling out of France to be showcased as part of Asian Civilisation's Museum's blockbuster exhibition, Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City. Masterpieces of the Musee national des arts asiatiques-Guimet. The exhibition is part of the on-goingVoilah! French Festival Singapore 2018has also worked with the museum to gather international thought leaders from France Cambodia, USA, Australia, and Singapore, for a symposium discussing the legacy, present-day challenges and future plans of the world heritage site.

The cultural and musical traditions of Southeast Asia take the stage too, as part of ROOTS - a musical walk through the years 1870 - 1915, also known in Europe as the Belle Epoque or the Golden Age. Helmed by a multi-national cast led by artistic director Sabrina Zuber, the performance will twin the works of some of Southeast Asia and Europe's greatest composers and the popular melodies of those times.

An Eclectic French line-up for Singapore

Partnering different local organisations, Voilah! 2018 presents a medley of multi-sensory experiences for festival-goers, introducing Singapore to the French heavyweights across different genres.

For the food lovers, learn how to make Bordeaux's famed caneles; get a taste of oysters flown in from the South-West of France; or discover the secrets behind French butter in a butter making class. Little ones will also be able to pick up the art of chocolate making from Valrhona Master Pastry Chef trainer, Brice Konnan-Ferrand, and Executive Master Pastry Chef, Fabrice David - famed creator of the world's first circular chocolate-making technique - in an exclusive chocolate workshop for children.


Party-goers will be in for a treat as three French personalities make their way to Singapore as part of the Festival. Meet French pop artist Charles-Baptiste who will perform in Singapore for the first time at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, with an impressive repertoire showcasing his musical experimentations. Sofitel's world-renowned signature party La Nuit makes its debut here and will feature a collaborative beat of French DJ Stephane Pompougnac and Singapore's very own DJ Kaylova.

HE Abensour concluded, "Voilah! 2018's strong line-up of arts and cultural programmes is reflective of the many passions and perspectives of both Singapore and France, and we welcome all to discover the world and its intricacies. With 2018 as the France-Singapore Year of Innovation, the team and our partners have pushed the boundaries to present an accessible and immersive festival experience for all festival-goers. With the strong support of over 50 artists and partners, we hope to engage everyone meaningfully over these five weeks."

Find out more about the festival at www.voilah.sg.
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