Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 #1
2016 - 2017

During the 7th lunar month the cityscape of Singapore is lit by the brilliant lights of the getai, and its ancestor the opera stage. Appearing for only a few nights before disappearing, in their short presence they become the centre of attraction, drawing fans and audiences from all over. Any space can be the location of a getai. The structures serve different uses, some are the traditional Chinese opera stages, worship altar tents, auction tents, dining tents and the true getai. Here I document some of them, and their peculiar settings.

Artists statement:
Originating as Chinese opera shows, the getai is a dazzling performance of singing and dancing, not to entertain human audiences but for the spirits during the Hungry Ghost Festival, typically around July - Sept in the Gregorian calendar. The Hungry Ghost Festival runs parallel to the Ullambana and the Bon festivals from the Ti

Getai is a carnivalesque dazzle of lights, pop music and performances; artistes covering Mandarin, Hokkien, and Cantonese pop songs, risque and sexy dancing and off-colour humour. The pop entertainment in Singapore mainstream media is dominated by English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil languages, with the Chinese dialects being suppressed in the mainsteam media. Getai is one of the rare occasions where Chinese dialects cross into the mainstream.

Staged in fields, empty plots of lands or existing public plazas and sports grounds, Getai would be set up for a performance and dismantled when performance nights end. I first observed getai as an architecture in 2014, where the tents light up at night, showing its form clearly contrasted in the nighttime darkness.

Getai as an architecture is a series of temporary structure such as performance stages, dining tents, auction tents, storage tents, portable toilets, generators, etc. Set up with clearly defined functional roles and hierarchy but little rules of stylistic and programmatic composition, such a typology results in infinite possible forms depending on the site context and scale of performance.

I thought of the typical representations of architecture as a building plan drawing. Typically drawn for planning permission application, submission drawings are the birth of built architecture. In taking elevation photographs, I sought to make a link to the portrayal of architecture in elevations, and justifying the organic getai stages as architecture.

In the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, the built environment are cataloged in meticulously executed photographs of seemingly inconsequential and 'non-architecture' structures. When viewed as a collective, it forms an clear language of typology. Instead of having a clear, consistent mechanical visual narrative, the getai is shown in its relation with its setting.

Ang Mo Kio Ave 3
Bishan Street 22
Sam Leong Road
Toa Payoh Central
Upper Thompson Road
Arumugam Road
Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 #2
Pipit Road