November 2022

kavadi bearer dancing

Sistrum presents Vel Vel: The Burden Dance at the Asian Civilisations Museum from 25 November 2022 to 26 March 2023

Every year, the streets from Serangoon Road to Tank Road are infused with the sounds, colours, and dance of Thaipusam. One of the most important festivals in Singapore, it is celebrated primarily by the Tamil Hindu community on the full moon of the Tamil month of Thai, in January or February. During Thaipusam, devotees make offerings to the Hindu deity Murugan by observing penances. Some take part in a ceremonial procession involving elaborate structures known as kavadi (“burden” in Tamil). Believers carry the kavadi to fulfil their vows, and as an expression of gratitude to Murugan.

This showcase, presented alongside Body & Spirit: The Human Body in Thought and Practice, brings together conversations on the practice of kavadi, which is a mechanism of spiritual transformation and communal sharing. The different forms of kavadi presented here are richly crafted, with a significance and beauty that shows their makers' creativity. The intricate design of a kavadi is also an expression of the close-knit collaboration of the community who take part in this constantly evolving tradition and its essential relationship with dance and music.

Curation and design: Ramesh Krishnan, Lim Shu Min, Laura Miotto

Thank you to the Asian Civilisations Museum for commissioning this special showcase, and to the following people who supported the project.

Lenders and interviewees: Arumugam Karuppiah, Balachander Muthu Bharathi, Kunasegaran Vasu, Mahendran P Raju, Moti Lal Parsad, Ramesh Krishnan, Suppiah Tamilchelvan

Researcher: V Vimal Kumar

Video editor: Ang Siew Ching

Illustrator: Esther Parn

3D drawings: Daniel Laster

Lighting: Ahmadi Eri Rushadie bin Jumadi

Tamil translation: Antāti

Art handlers: Global Specialised Services

Fabricator: AE Models

Media installation: Joytech Solutions

Photograph: KC Eng

November 2022

Sistrum launches the site-specific audio experience Sonic Walks: Relak with the support of the DesignSingapore Council's Good Design Research grant.

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November 2022

Sistrum presents the audio-visual installation If We Paused in Mid Thought... at the Singapore Writers Festival 2022. Find out more here or visit the microsite.

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January 2022

Sistrum is currently the artist-in-residence at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Listen to their new work Nature Remixed: Where are the borders of our paradise? which just launched as part of Singapore Art Week 2022.

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A sonic project by Sistrum (Ramesh Krishnan, Lim Shu Min and Laura Miotto), Nature remixed: Where are the borders of our paradise? experiments using voices, space, text, and soundscapes to reveal threads that tie us to the plants of Singapore Botanic Gardens.

How does the Gardens sound at different hours of the day? Conceived as a ‘botanic dub’, this sonic project samples and layers site-specific conversations and atmospheres, while using a polyvocal approach to trace and imagine our relationship with nature.

While the sonic project can be accessed online here, you can listen while exploring the Singapore Botanic Gardens for a richer experience.


Sistrum is an interdisciplinary collective composed by sound designer Ramesh Krishnan, architect Laura Miotto and graphic designer Lim Shu Min. Their work involves the creation of installations, exhibitions, and digital platforms enquiring on the narrative quality of sound and the environment.