It’s so important to have an arts festival for artists, by the artists. Most of the arts festivals are for consumers, so there’s a certain kind of constraint.
Danny Yung, Artistic Director of Zuni Icosahedron (Hong Kong)
Many arts festivals in the region seem to focus on bringing the highly acclaimed works from around the world and oftentimes from outside the Southeast Asian region, and at the same time, presenting the local works on the same “international platform”. The more works are being presented, however, the less time remains for the audience members to talk to the artists, or even among the former and the latter themselves. Evidently and fortunately, “Southernmost” has been on the opposite direction. The focus is more on local and regional artists–or those who would also have time and opportunity outside the festival to talk to one another again. Besides, as ample time is allowed in each session for true conversation, “Southernmost” clearly emphasize progress, not product. Moreover, as it has been well connected to relevant platforms and festivals in, for example, mainland China, Hong Kong and Indonesia from the beginning, Southernmost is never a lone wolf.
Pawit Mahasarinand (President, International Association of Theatre Critics, Bangkok)
I am very grateful to Emergency Stairs for their generosity in inviting and allowing me to be “critic-in-residence” at their Southernmost festival in 2018. I was a witness to artistic director Liu Xiaoyi and seven invited artists from across Asia as they created and developed the performance Journey to Nowhere. Through this process, the team interrogated modes of knowledge production and transmission, of what happens when bodies learn the vocabularies of other bodies, of new pedagogical approaches for the various performance forms, of the different and similar challenges each cultural, national and political context poses. In that sense, Southernmost 2018 has acted also like a performance incubator or an intensive academic programme, with workshops, masterclasses, small-group discussions, showcases, and a symposium-style forum – dedicated to the artists who have been invited to participate in this festival. I hope that Emergency Stairs will continue to wrestle with these difficult but necessary questions of intercultural art-making, and how it can transcend the initial intercultural encounters broached in the 1990s into something both rigorous and ground-breaking.
Corrie Tan, theatre critics (Singapore)
My experience in Southernmost seeps into my practice for sure, since it raises issues so relevant to my and the other participants’ practices. But it also pushes the bar further, raising more questions than it seeks to answer, and I will have to actively seek them out in the process of my PhD, in talking to my fellow field-mates about grant applications and work creation, as well as, on a wider scale, pushing for longer (and deeper) creative processes that seek to connect human beings from different cultures and value systems, instead of always foregrounding efficiency, ticket sales, audience numbers and other common (capitalistic) indicators of success.
Elizabeth Chan, Chinese, Modern Dance and Choreography Lecturer (Singapore)
I have been with Southernmost for two years and I must say that I have been very enriched and transformed by how the experience of involving in a collaboration is not merely just engaging the collaborating artists as talents in a show but also the feasibility of seeing each of us as leaders in the institutions that we wish to create… I believe more artists or festivals can be created in a way in which artists are able to acknowledge their empowered value as agents of change and initiating discourse. This of course most important for “Traditional artists” who have been brought up in circumstances in which they might not value their own personal voices regarding contemporary issues which are necessary for discourse.
Amin Farid, choreographer, arts educator and researcher (Singapore)