Interview: Singularity Festival Cofounder Walka Ng

By Bryan Grogan, August 16, 2018

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Guangzhou’s biggest art festival, Singularity Festival, is coming back for its second run this September, with organizers expecting to exhibit works by 80 artists both domestic and foreign.

Since their first festival last year, founders ETH, Walka Ng, Tony Cheung and Li Mengyu have opened their own gallery and studio – Singularity Gallery – on Jiangtai Lu, and branded both their venue and event under an overarching organization called Singularity Plan. 

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Image via Singularity Plan

As a homegrown illustration and animation festival, Singularity may be one of the most interesting artistic events in Guangzhou now. It is anticipated that 10,000 people will visit the festival at Haizhu District’s Taigucang Wharf between August 31 and September 2. 

We talked to one of the cofounders of Singularity Festival, Walka Ng, about the group’s motivations and the upcoming event. 

Why did Singularity founder ETH want to start this festival?
He founded the art group Brain Balloon in 2013. At that stage, we did a lot of art creation projects and public education projects in Guangdong, and we brought art into the lives of villagers.

In 2014, we opened an art space in Wende Lu and painted its outer wall red, calling it 'Little Red House.' This was the embryonic form of the Singularity Festival. Little Red House had a good reputation, but we couldn’t earn enough money to stay open.

In 2015, ETH founded Transitivity, and we formally started corporatization operations. We began to commercialize independent art, and gave independent art a window for commercial output.

In 2017, it was a coincidence that we received some friends' support. So ETH founded the Singularity Festival and set up the Singularity Plan brand in the same year.

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Image via ETH

How has your experience exhibiting at European festivals like Zapp! in Italy and Tenderete in Spain influence Singularity?
Singularity Festival is based on the spirit of these European arts festivals, combined with the thinking of youth culture in China at this stage. It has the independent creative spirit of a European art festival and the means of display required by Chinese art creators.

For Chinese audiences, this is more like a festival held by art amateurs and art creators. They can find their favorite culture here, and they can communicate with the people who create this culture.

What is it like to hold a large-scale art event in Guangzhou?  
Of course, there are many artistic creators in Guangzhou. They hide in every corner of the city. The appearance of Singularity Festival has enabled creators to discover that an audience enjoys their work. We believe that is the value of Singularity Festival for the region. It unearthed a group of artists with independent creation status, and gathered them together to show their artistic practice.

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Image via Walka Ng 

Your team is emphatic about promoting independent art. What do you feel is the biggest benefit of creating independently in China?
The greatest advantage of being an independent artist in China is that you can do your own work, although this does not always maintain your living expenses. But when there are platforms such as Singularity Plan, you will have the chance to establish your voice. First of all, we must stick to creativity before we find opportunities.

Click here to learn more about Singularity Plan. See event listing

[Cover image via Walka Ng]

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