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project SALOME

From internationally acclaimed Singapore director Ong Keng Sen, comes an arresting evocation of the enigmatic character Salome from Oscar Wilde’s renowned play. Ong joins the ranks of towering artists throughout history who have re-imagined famous classics to make ground-breaking art. In project SALOME, Ong unveils the rituals of projecting – via social media and creative documentary film-making – to finally recast the idiom "heads will roll”.

“How do we express ourselves, and remain free, during the challenging restrictions of the pandemic? As our bodies are locked down, can we find the imaginative freedom to roam the wildest fantasies in our apartment? This was the beginning of the project to transform my apartment in Berlin into the world of SALOME. Two, juxtapose that with a live performer in Singapore. Three, harness social media as the site of performance which have long superseded our theatre buildings. It’s necessary to assert performance with the limited resources available, as we become debilitated by regulations and our theatres continue to be under threat. The rest as they say is history. We know we are now in a new world of reimposed barriers, in a precarious future where we are struggling to regain our imagination of the possible.” Ong Keng Sen

Salome is a larger-than-life character who has from time immemorial horrified and fascinated all. Who is SALOME in our contemporary times, who attempts to transform their position of no-power into some kind of power?

Based on English playwright Oscar Wilde’s symbolist play from 1891, SALOME fights to be free from the systems of morality and patriarchal power which have imprisoned them. Salome stoked both controversy and acclaim when it was first performed – and today, Ong’s SALOME strikes a provocative and ferocious double portrait of individuals unafraid to pursue their deepest instincts to become emancipated.

Ong collaborates with Berlin-based performance artist Michael(a) Daoud, to navigate the edges of documentary film, and Singaporean actor Janice Koh, to occupy social media with a love at all costs. Set in an unexpected installation by Heman Chong with the energising rhythms of composer Kaffe Matthews, they jointly contemplate the SALOME complex from diverse directions.

In an intriguing pre-performance on social media, The SALOME Complex is performed, even before the audience enters the theatre. Koh embodies her contemporary Salome on Instagram @thesalomecomplex from now till 26 May 2022.

Meanwhile, Daoud performs their mesmerising autobiography on film from Berlin, recounting their perilous journey into the European Union fortress and the shedding of different selves in order to survive en route to freedom.

A meditation on the rituals of projecting, transitioning, becoming and self-mythologising, project SALOME is a startling performance from one of Asia’s most accomplished directors.

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