Today, KRC catches up with NUS FASS undergraduate, Lee Wei Fen, and finds out about her literary and cultural-entrepreneurial activities in our local arts scene. This UpFront article is second in a series of interviews of NUS students aimed at finding out what exactly our peers are up to these days.
I first met Wei Fen at my Introduction to Indian Philosophy tutorial class in 2008; she was the sole South Asian Studies major of her batch, and I was just another Philosophy major. I soon came to regard her as one of my best friends and was sufficiently charmed that I even became a South Asian Studies minor. Fast forward to March 2010 and the launch of Ceriph, a local literary journal which was brought to conception by Wei Fen, Hans and Winnie. KRC covered the launch of Ceriph in this article.
Now, Ceriph is awaiting its third publication, and Wei Fen has also (despite a crazy NUS undergraduate workload with an Honours thesis to top it off) managed to be involved in another literary publication, Coast, (which is an anthology she is co-editing with Darren Shiau), organizing the “Singapore Shophouse Beat Salon”, and is also planning, alongside the other co-founders of Ceriph, a collaborative project with the Substation.
There are many other activities to list but I had to end the sentence somewhere and ask Wei Fen to furnish our readers with details, beginning perhaps with the “Singapore Shophouse Beat Salon”. “Everything started with the Ceriph launch,” she began, “When we started Ceriph, we thought it would be just about the physical book, but never realized that through communicating with writers and having the physical book launches we’d also get to build a network of emerging creative people across different industries.
“At the launch of the second issue, I met Laura, who owns a shophouse in Joo Chiat and is a big supporter of the arts scene, as well as Shiva from Plato’s Cave, another creative venture. We began talking about having a space or evening of cultural chaos — and that resulted in the Shophouse Beat Salon, where we invited writers, jazz musicians, acoustic musicians, slam poets etc to come by for an Open Mic session and just to hang out. The idea was to have a ground-up event, where we didn’t have to “impress” anyone to get funding, or have pressure to network — we were all there to perform and enjoy each other’s art forms.”
“With Ceriph and other projects I’m involved in, the idea is to promote more of these collaborations so that artists can have a better understanding of each other’s craft, and can even be influenced or inspired by each other. For example, at the Shophouse Beat Salon, we had a body contact improv dancer Sharda Harrison using her body for performative means, whilst reciting from “The Conference of the Birds”. As an example of spontaneous collaboration, her brother, Sean Harrison, and his band, got behind on the instruments and began drumming out a hypnotic beat to the performance. At some point, he began singing as well — we were all mesmerized, and it was a wonderful way of understanding how the different art forms could inform each other and create something new.”
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