SIFA 2022: The Anatomy of Performance – Ritual

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Returning from 20 May to 5 June with the title The Anatomy of Performance – Ritual, SIFA 2022 features new commissioned works by a mix of local and international artists. 

Image credits Arts House Limited

Last updated: 28 Mar 2022

Venue: Online and Onsite
Date: 20 May - 5 Jun 2022 [virtual programmes - ongoing]
Fee: Free and paid (early bird sales extended till 10 Apr 2022)

The 2022 edition of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA),  titled The Anatomy of Performance – Ritual, will take place in both physical and virtual spaces. 

Organised by Arts House Limited (AHL) and commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC)SIFA 2022 marks the start of a three-year arc under new Festival Director Natalie Hennedige. Each festival edition comes into focus with a subtitle accompanying the recurring title 'The Anatomy of Performance'. This year’s focus is “Ritual”.

The Anatomy of Performance - Ritual invites audiences to consider our shared social rituals which are echoed in performance as both adhere to the conditions of time (duration), artefact (costume, installation, symbolic objects, clothing), and gesture (expressive movement, charged stillness). These conditions thus become passageways to discover the anatomy, or structural inner-workings, of each performance expressed in the nuanced language of art to convey varied narratives and perspectives.

The festival has three layers of programming.

Firstly, there is 'Creation', a platform for SIFA’s prime offerings encompassing new commissions, fresh iterations of works by local and international artists in both the physical and online space, and the invitation and presentation of works by outstanding international artists.

Next is 'Life Profusion' - SIFA’s virtual stage which runs parallel to the live festival. Under Life Profusion are five unique content portals: +DREAM, +EAT, +READ, +GROW and +DISCUSS, designed to expand, organise and deepen the profusion of ideas and artistry radiating from each festival edition’s line of thought.

Thirdly, there is 'SIFA X'. SIFA X marks the spot for more alternative performance offerings at Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, allowing for more diverse and eclectic programming.

From today, audiences may begin their SIFA 2022 journey journey through the new virtual venue, Life Profusion. 

Life Profusion programmes begin with +EAT – a series of seasonal capsules curated by local tastemakers Syndicate that deliver digital content across music, moving images and digital arts. Scheduled to be released regularly, +EAT will feature new inter-disciplinary collaborations, experimentations and a cross-pollination between artists, designers and creatives of various disciplines and backgrounds.

Here is a peak at some of the programmes you can expect at SIFA 2022.



Image credits Sean Lee

Venue: Pasir Panjang Power Station
Date: 20 - 22 May 2022
Time: 8 pm (1 hr 15 mins)
Fee: $58

MEPAAN - meaning always in the Kayan language of the indigenous Kayan people of Borneo - is a breathtaking performance evoking the sublime rituals of Southeast Asia and its native people by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Tuyang Initiative - a Sarawak-based creative agency focused on Borneo indigenous cultural heritage.

Stirring strains of indigenous music and vocal tradition from Southeast Asia’s island nations are woven into a fabric of powerful orchestral compositions, evoking grand ritual and ceremony to transport the mind into the pristine rainforests of Southeast Asia.


Venue: The Arts House
Date: 20 May – 5 June 2022
Time: 10 am - 7 pm
Fee: Free

In tandem with SIFA 2022’s opening performance, MEPAAN, acclaimed Singaporean photographer Sean Lee showcases a selection of his works depicting of a kaleidoscopic universe of flora and fauna. Originally captured and featured in festival commission MEPAAN at the Pasir Panjang Power Station, this companion photographic exhibition offers an alternative encounter with Lee’s sensuous nature imagery.

Ceremonial Enactments

Source: Arts House Limited

Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Date: 21 - 22 May 2022
Time: 7.30 pm (2 hrs)
Fee: $58 (Cat 1), $48 (Cat 2), $38 (Cat 3)

In Ceremonial Enactments, three Singaporean companies imagine a resplendent tapestry of local customary rituals, told with a contemporary twist.

Drawing from customs and rites within Singapore’s diverse cultures, Ceremonial Enactments features three festival commissions, woven into one seamless performance experience.


Source: Arts House Limited

Venue: Changi Point Ferry Terminal (Meeting point)
Date: 25 May - 29 May & 1 Jun - 5 Jun 2022
Time: 6.15 pm
Fee: $58 (includes round-trip ferry to/from Pulau Ubin) - Ticket

Part theatre, part collective experience, ubin by Singapore theatre company Drama Box invites you to an immersive walking tour uncovering the stories and sites of Pulau Ubin – and share in a moment to reimagine the island’s future.

This a multidimensional project invites audiences to ponder the future of life and culture for the dwindling number of residents on Pulau Ubin. Starting from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, audiences may immerse themselves in stories of the island as they depart on an extraordinary journey through Pulau Ubin where sound installation, theatre, dance, and exhibition come together to form a performance from dock to island.

Recommended for audiences aged 13 and above. Multilingual with English translations.

project SALOME

Image credits Ceren Saner

Venue: Victoria Theatre
Date & Time: 27 May - 8 pm | 29 May: 2 pm & 8 pm
Fee: $48, $58
Admission only for audiences age 18 and above. 

From internationally renowned Singapore performance director and Cultural Medallion recipient Ong Keng Sen comes project SALOME, starring Singaporean actor Janice Koh and Berlin-based performance artist Michael(a) Daoud. Referring to Oscar Wilde’s Salome as a point of departure, Ong adopts documentary filmmaking as his approach to reflect upon the ritual of social projection and self-mythologising.

Life Profusion

Little Histories of Big Topics

Venue: Online
Released from Feb 2022

Ahead of the festival, check out a series of essays that bring contextual colour to SIFA 2022’s performance offerings.

Authors include singer-songwriter Alena Murang, the first professional female Sape’ musician in Malaysia and Borneo; writer, researcher and curator Marcus Ng, who explores the natural and human histories of Singapore's islands and shores; and the Malay Heritage Centre’s Jamal Mohamad, who will share more about the unique place of Bangsawan in Singapore’s performing arts.

Delicate Spells of Mind

Source: Arts House Limited

Venue: Online
Date: 20 May - 5 Jun 2022 (Fri - Sun)
Fee: $15

SIFA commissions renowned British-born, Australian science fiction artist, body architect, film maker and TED fellow Lucy McRae to create a world premiering performance film for Life Profusion.

Delicate Spells of Mind is an intriguing performance film by Lucy McRae that dissects the operating system of the mind – where a Seeker contends with ego, the inherited artificial intelligence.

Delicate Spells of Mind occupies two worlds: that of a ‘Seeker’ and ‘Other’. The Seeker’s self-invented ‘practice’, appearing as acts of care and game, are her sincere attempts to flee from pain and error. With a dashboard of gadgets and controllers to calculate outcome, the Seeker attempts to pre-meditate the best outcome – anything to circumnavigate the incessant thoughts she doesn’t
choose, but drives her.

Simultaneously, the ‘Other’s’ world is populated with a procession of dancers costumed in inoperable mocap suits, a committee, an organism, traveling and prostrating in search. Switching between worlds, the Seeker and the Other are caught in a tug of war, grappling with a riddle of a rope – the ‘lifeline’ contraption. They eventually come to share the same plain of existence, emptying through movement, shape and ritual, to invite healing, where both Seeker and Other co-exist.

An existential voyage into psyche, Delicate Spells of Mind is an attempt to invite acceptance, belonging and learning to fit in as we are, rather than rooting out ego once and for all.



Venue & Date: 

  • Goodman Arts Centre: 21 – 28 May 2022
  • Aliwal Arts Centre: 27 May – 4 June 2022

Fee: Free - refundable deposit of $10/ticket required

SAtheCollective presents oneirism [ō-nī′rĭz′əm ], a chance to access an irregular state of consciousness, in which dreamlike illusions are experienced – all while wide awake. Discover the enchanting duality of oneirism at Ceremony, Goodman Arts Centre, as well as Rituals, Aliwal Arts Centre, this May.

SIFA on Demand

Source: Arts House Limited

Venue: Online
Date: 20 May - 10 Jul 2022
Fee: $15 per show | $25 for bundle of 4 - Ticket

Keeping the festival momentum going are digital commissions on-demand via SIFA on Demand on SIFA’s website. SIFA On Demand blends the arc of the performance with key moments from each work, selected interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

The following commissioned programmes will be available digitally on 20 June for a three-week run:

  • Delicate Spells of Mind 
    Screening from 20 May - 5 Jun 2022

    Screening from 20 Jun – 10 Jul 2022

  • Ceremonial Enactments 
    Screening from 20 Jun – 10 Jul 2022
  • Bangsawan Gemala Malam 
    Screening from 20 Jun – 10 Jul 2022

For a full list of programmes and tickets, please visit



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This article is prepared by

Malini Pannirselvam
Dedicated writer by day, avid reader by night, language fanatic all the time, and aunt to nieces and nephews every day

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