Fringe 2012: Art & Faith

”Faith... is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods."
- C.S. Lewis

The Festival had initially chosen Art & Religion as the 2012 theme. However, in light of the applications received as well as in view of our desire to be as inclusive as we can in terms of the Festival's offerings, we have decided to broaden the scope of the theme to Art & Faith.

Faith is not unlike religion, the latter which is defined as "the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or a set of beliefs concerning the origin and purpose of the universe." Faith encompasses that same definition, but goes beyond to include the same belief and confidence entrusted in a set of doctrines, tenets, systems, theories or individuals. In short, our firm and fervent belief in anything - from a religious order, to our culture, to our dietary preferences, to our favourite brand of clothing - could well be akin to our faith in them, depending on the sphere of pertinence these have (religious, cultural, social, personal).

How we define faith - and conversely, how it defines us - is part of how we construct our world view and react on them. The symbols, rites and rituals we develop based on our faith affect the external world, and are themselves defined, constrained and morphed according to the limits of this same world.

”I have a firm faith in art, a firm confidence in its being a powerful stream which carries a man to a harbor, though he himself must do his bit too."
- Vincent Van Gogh

In considering the notion of faith, we must not ignore its relevance and meaning in religion, and political ideologies which are often consumed and acknowledged as institutions. In doing so, the human tendency is to use institutionalised faith for our own purposes, at times with disregard to differing opinions and minority voices. Institutions often lead to empowered positions, which can in turn bring about arrogance and judgemental behaviour. Yet, it is folly to believe that our faith should dictate the manner which others should live by. Should our faith in specific institutions limit our faith in human engagement and connection, in compassion and inclusion? Can art serve to bridge these gaps of difference and/or indifference? Can art provide that hope that we need so much in our contemporary times? How can art remain relevant and heal burning contemporary concerns?

Artists have, for centuries, defended the freedom to question and critique, immunizing art and advocating its integrity. Yet the notion of respecting differences, the notion of recognising the "other", may conflict with this freedom of expression. Is there a way then to question and/or critique without disrespect or does art (at its fundamental core) own the right to comment in whatever way it wishes? Is there such a thing as a fundamentalist approach to the faith in art?

”Faith is the pierless bridge supporting what we see unto the scene that we do not."
- Emily Dickinson

Art is not staid. It moves and is constantly probed and queried, affirmed and deconstructed with time. Art, in its essence, must strive to engender tolerance, acceptance and promote negotiation, because art encourages interaction and negotiation, to create new worlds, bridges and understanding. Can faith provide a similar platform, since it requires confidence and belief in present-day tenets to create an unseen and better future for one and all?

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival invites one and all to participate in another exciting installment as we interrogate and reflect on the explosive relationships between art and faith. 15 - 26 February 2012. Get involved.