Aliwal Urban Art Festival 2017: Everything You Missed

The Aliwal Urban Art Festival 2017, held last Saturday, January 14th, was no quiet affair. The annual festival drew a crowd of about 6,000 attendees to the Aliwal Arts Centre and the surrounding Kampong Gelam precinct.

By Deana Zafir
Photos by Hazwan Mohsin (@wanskippy)

Street culture fans gathered at the Aliwal Urban Arts Festival 2017, held Saturday, January 14th, an annual affair that offers the best in Singapore’s urban art scene.

The event kicked off at 5pm and early birds were treated to the sight of talented urban artists, brought together by The Black Studio, working on a massive 12-meter wall. The spectacle made for a perfect impromptu Instagram backdrop, too.

This year’s edition incorporated stations where attendees could get involved in the art. There was Brilliant Corners, an art doodle zone for the whole family, and Sketch Combat, which saw both amateur and established artists engage in a friendly sketch competition. Winners walked away with prizes such as passes to art workshops and art supplies.


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A highlight of the Festival is an installation titled “No Regrets For Our Youth”, located at Music Studio 1 at the Aliwal Arts Centre. Presented by the art collective DXXXXD, the 80s disco-Miami Vice looking installation examines the cult of #gymlife.

Unlike most installations where visitors are told not to touch the displays, the creators of “No Regrets For Our Youth” welcome visitor interaction. Muhammad Izdi, one-sixth of the DXXXXD collective, said, “I feel visitors should be more playful rather than being more careful and unsure whether to interact with the work. The entire installation is a functional gym and built for interaction so I hope visitors continue to experiment with our work however they wish to.”

The installation is on till February 12th, so we recommend checking it out before it’s too late.


While on the topic of sport, skateboarding has also become a mainstay of the Aliwal Urban Art Festival. This year’s competition, titled the Asphalt Challenge II, came in the form of a stretch of carpark on Aliwal Street transformed into a skatepark, filled with numerous obstacles.

The final leg of the competition saw skaters of all ages trying to conquer a ramp, fabricated to resemble a sneaker. Winners of the The Asphalt Challenge II skated off with cash prizes ranging from S$200 to S$400.


Good music has always been a part of the Aliwal Urban Art Festival, and this year was no exception. Attendees were treated to live music performances from DJs Cherry Chan, DJ Anrev, and Night Dives.

Particularly memorable was a collaboration between beat poet Kiat, and poet/performer, Deborah Emmanuel. The segment, which featured the spoken word performed over a beat, was captivating to say the least. Pure hypnosis.

And as if that wasn’t enough of a treat, the jazz/hip-hop antics of the Ant-Men and the rock and roll ballads from TOMGIRL made the night complete.

Since the Aliwal Urban Art Festival was first introduced in 2013, the Festival content has become more unique. The steady rise in the number of attendees year-on-year is testament to this, and is also a sign of an increased interest in urban art.

Because the Aliwal Urban Art Festival only comes around but once a year, and the 2017 edition has left us wanting more, we got Natalie Tan, Senior Manager of Place Making at Aliwal Arts Centre, to give us a sneak preview into what the 2018 edition might have in store for us.

“Am hoping to do a rap karaoke! And also showing off more subcultures in Singapore. Chiptune perhaps? Video gaming?” she proffered.


The Aliwal Urban Art Festival, organized by Aliwal Arts Centre, is also supported by the National Arts Council of Singapore in conjunction with the Singapore Art Week.

Missed out on the Urban Arts Festival? Browse our pictures or check out Aliwal Art Centre’s Instagram for more.

Read More: Here’s What Went Down at the Aliwal Urban Art Festival 2016

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