What do I think about when I don't think? As I round up my last few beautiful days in the outskirts of Seoul before I have to head off to Beijing to reunite with my family for a well-deserved vacation, a defiant North Korean missile was fired at 6am this morning, and it landed in the sea not far from Hokkaido, Japan. While the US is conducting its 'regular’ — often unapologetic — military exercise with the South Koreans military, I am sitting here opening, closing, and reopening this report, contemplating — or even procrastinating — about I can possibly write.
“What am I doing here?”, is a question I routinely pose myself. I now wonder if my relentless pursuit of the never-ending “here’s” is perhaps too disruptive. In the same vein, I can’t seem to know where I want to be; except knowing where I do not want to be. It’s an excuse I sometimes use to cover up my escapism. On a different note, while noting the political context of the Korean Peninsula (or the nature of conflicts), I have been rethinking the difference between presence and occupation. It questions not just the essentialism of identity and place — if not nationalism, and the rhetorics of the nationstate — how else and what other ways to justify the existence of being/the conception of statehood. Where is the “inside” and/or the “outside”?
A year ago, I applied mainly with the intention to understand my own practice, and perhaps to find a “direction in my life”, in regards to being simultaneously, an "insider" and an "outsider" of where I come from. The combination of my trajectory at the Dutch Art Institute and RFAOH have certainly pushed my practice into a more theoretical, and political direction/place. With that in mind, it is, therefore, important to think, and employ strategies that bring about higher agency in one's (artistic) practice. Although my initial research premise relating to my thesis have changed — from a "non-position/location" to the "hyperrestrained order" — it nevertheless helped me to understand better my position or role (and even the escapism), and my relationship with the state (Singapore), that changes from being a citizen, a soldier, to an "artist" (as an occupation). I have seen this process as a crucial development — as a theoretical inquiry, and the understanding of the previous — in relation to my art practice. During my hiatus, I have learnt to bring research-traveling-writing to the forefront of my practice — not entirely inclined to the notion of producing artworks as the 'only' way of art-making. Ironically, I believe this journey — of art and life — will/can never truly be on a “hiatus”. If one is practicing life (thinking about Tehching Hsieh's talk), can we say or consider art as the medium of life, while life never stops, and art nourishes life?
The “here” now is post-hiatus. I am excited about what Beijing can I offer me, as well as what I can learn from this potential move. “Post-hiatus” is, so to speak, actually getting over an ex-lover, and confronting some fears I had the past couple years; anxieties and insecurities, where I don’t just ask myself the purpose of my existence at a physical location. It is about living through it, making decisions even if I won’t be liking it, whether its on life, art or love.