Burning Questions: Can Critics Criticise during a Pandemic?

As the work of artists evolve with the restrictions of COVID-19, do critics also need to reassess how they look at performance? Four critics, Loo Zihan, Teo Xiao Ting, Jocelyn Chng and Germaine Cheng discuss their responses as more and more performances go online, and whether it has led to a recalibration or softening of their critical eye. What really is the role of the critic during a crisis? Do we put criticality on pause, in favour of a more empathic, care-centred approach as other pressing issues loom large? This panel is moderated by Nabilah Said.

About Burning Questions
In a matter of just months, the making, distribution and audiences’ experience of arts has undergone rapid changes. From abrupt cancellations of major festivals, to shuttering of galleries and theatres, new online avenues emerged to make and share arts.

At the same time, COVID-19 has exposed the extreme precarity of the arts sector. As arts workers face a real existential threat, it is society at large that will be impoverished if artists can no longer make and present their work. Now more than ever, we need artists to challenge assumptions and imagine new futures.

This series of four talks, organised by ArtsEquator, attempts to ask some big questions. Being in the middle of an unpredictable global crisis precludes easy answers. Burning Questions offers a space for regional voices to dialogue and discuss some of the unasked questions facing the arts community.


Loo Zihan
Loo Zihan is an artist and academic working at the intersections of critical theory, performance, and the moving-image. His work emphasises the malleability of memory through various representational strategies that include performance re-enactments and essay films. He received his MFA in Studio Practice from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MA in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is pursuing his PhD in Performance Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded the Young Artist Award (2015) and an Arts Postgraduate Scholarship (2017) by the National Arts Council of Singapore.

Jocelyn Chng
Jocelyn Chng is a practitioner, writer and educator in dance and theatre, with a keen interest in issues of culture and history. She holds a double Masters in Theatre Studies/Research from the Universities of Amsterdam and Tampere, a BA(Hons) in Theatre Studies from the National University of Singapore, and a PG Dip in Education (Dance Teaching) from the University of Bath. Jocelyn has written since 2013 for several platforms, including Centre 42, Arts Equator, The Straits Times and The Flying Inkpot. She is an Associate Member of Dance Nucleus and a part-time lecturer at LASALLE College of The Arts.

Teo Xiao Ting
Lately (as in for the past two years), Xiao Ting’s preoccupations have been swirling around intimacy and criticism. She’s currently based in Singapore, and her writing practice started out with poetry. Now, it has mutated into a whole other thing that she’s still trying to understand. For a more formalised introduction, head over to https://txting.space

Germaine Cheng
Germaine Cheng is a freelance dance artist, educator and writer. She is making strides into dramaturgy and her movement practice centres around discovering personal groove. Her reviews have been published on various arts websites and dance magazines globally, and she has authored and edited commemorative publications for Singapore Dance Theatre and T.H.E Dance Company.


Nabilah Said
Nabilah Said is a playwright, poet, and editor of ArtsEquator. She has presented plays in Singapore and London and her play ANGKAT: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative of a Native (2019, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival) won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. She is the founder of playwright collective Main Tulis Group. As a former arts correspondent with The Straits Times, she covered the theatre and dance scene and reviewed performances. She has an MA in Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Burning Questions by ArtsEquator is supported by Splice Lights On, with Livestream supported by HowlRound TV. Watch the archive recording of the other panels here.

ArtsEquator needs your support. Please visit our fundraising page to find out more about Project Ctrl+S ArtsEquator. ArtsEquator Ltd. is a Singapore-registered charity.

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