Incidentally conceived in China, raised in Singapore, Wayne Wang-Jie Lim is an art practitioner working and living in Amsterdam. Since 2009, he had exhibited and presented in shows at various venues, from the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICAS), Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (CCA), to the Singapore Art Museum. He was awarded the Winston Oh Travel Research Award in 2013 for a research in Hong Kong, a writer-in-residence at maumau Art Space in Istanbul, Turkey in 2015 and most recently part of a research-residency project co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the EU, called “Understanding Territoriality” at Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, Italy.
He is currently pursuing his MA at the Dutch Art Institute as a recipient of the Non-EU scholarship grant from ArtEZ Institute of the Arts. His current inquiry focuses on geopolitics, language, philosophy and history in relation to art and hence, experiments with formats that are not the conventional, such as, travelogues, thinking and the writerly.
During his BA studies, Wayne was drafted into the army for mandatory military service that brought a two-year halt to his “practice” — he practically made/produced nothing, and participated in a few minor exhibitions for which he only showed old works he had done in school. Instead, he read a lot, and in retrospect, “prepared” for his final year after his obligatory service ended. This was the first time he questioned what an “artistic practice” meant.
When he returned to finish his degree, he could no longer make art in the way he used to, and his production shifted to a focus on researching and writing, making strategic plans on practicing at the fringe of what can be called “art” before spending only a short couple months at actually producing the “artworks”. Though a national arts body has funded his projects and exhibitions, he is not recognized officially as an artist under the institutions’ national framework of what constitutes artistic practice. This simultaneously “insider / outsider” state has further led him to his current research.
As Wayne begins his hiatus, he will also be working towards his graduate degree, where his thesis-research explores the notion of “non-position/location”. He feels that this timing will prompt him to really ask himself how he could “nourish” himself and re-strategize his artistic practice in order to benefit from the artworld’s infrastructure/institutions but not be subsumed into the wider agenda of neoliberalism and nationalistic rhetoric as a contemporary art producer or a cultural and knowledge producer. He hopes to investigate alternative modes of art production with an ultimate goal of infiltrating the arts market from the peripherals while being completely non-positional and ambiguous. Or practically, what he has to do in order to survive as an artist in a way that will also afford him a comfortable living -- and not like a "poor artist".
During his residency at RFAOH, he primarily wants to spend time on brooding over the function of his “art” and his “practice”. He plans to use the stipend “for nourishment” by purchasing books and organizing a reading group, putting food on his table, paying for his website domain, buying a hashtag on his Instagram account, paying an exorbitant amount for a VIP ticket to an art fair to look at art-for-sale, etc. He also plans to routinely write and perhaps finally learn how to use Instagram to “market” his non-art/borderline art activities.
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.
The past week has been an awful battle with myself (and perhaps with you) again and it’s not over. But what is this, really? This struggle and discontent that I’m facing now; post-breakup, the artist’s condition, the effects of capitalism, the state… Or just, thinking too much? 2016 took a huge toll on my mental health. Since my last episode in Madrid, I have been relatively okay until last week. I want to cry every time I talk to someone about my problems/issues because it hurts so much inside. My thoughts are so quick and far and I cannot keep up. I admit that I have known my problems for a few years now but only recently being confronted by them because I lost the person whom I love very much and could connect with me on this level, guiding me and holding me through. For the past two years, I’ve been trying to understand (and trying at the same time) to just, stay afloat, alone.
Most of the time, it’s the problem of being unable to channel out my thoughts (those big ones — philosophical ones — in relation to art and politics, life, people, etc.) and being disenchanted and desolated by things and the state of order around me. This has caused me my ability to even grasp simple things in life and I want to grasp simpleness of life, I do.
Last night, my friend said that I’m always in either the past or too far in the future — never here and now. She continues to say that for the time that she has known me, she never saw me happy and I lack emotional intelligence despite being an emotional person. She had said so much more, although not as a critique on my personality. I can’t help feeling a certain degree of helplessness and a need to seek for support from friends and family from time to time. It is certainly okay to be not okay.
“Nocturnes, Op. 55: No. 1 in F Minor” from Chopin: Nocturnes by Arthur Rubinstein.
You used to tell me to smile more because I’m too dead serious for anyone — too inaccessible and too unapproachable. I must have forgotten to smile lately because I don’t even know how to anymore.
This post was supposed to be a rather lengthy one but I think I lost what I could say because there’s so much to say.
It’s 2017, It’s Going to be Better, and More Dangerous?
2016 year is finally over, but the horrids of 2016 recognize no year?! Since the year, is just a measurement. Today did not feel any more fresher just because it’s a new calendar year; it’s really just another day. So, no, it doesn’t feel like it’s a “new year”. Perhaps, this is just my resentment towards the last week of the year, a week (most of the time longer) of anxiety, compounded stress and the fear of being forgotten. A conversation with a friend recently made me think why don’t I try to treat 2017 differently by making New Years resolutions and so, I did it! Although, she said that my goals are not “quantitative” enough and are too personal/subjective.
Which brings me to a particular subject; how does one calculate risk? I have been pondering about this in relation to my kitchen presentation at the DAI. In retrospect, I must admit that I have lived rather riskily in Singapore; being investigated for using a sensitive word (which I’d rather not use here) on my blog at the age of 15/16, charged in court for 7 counts of vandalism at 19, arrested and charged in court again at 23 for illegal driving. I’ve been rather obedient after the last incident simply because I do not want to give any more reasons for the state to “restrict my freedom” due to my “crimes”, jeopardizing my “artistic practice”. And when I say “restricted freedom”, I really meant being locked up.
I began to analyze what encompasses this risk. Hence, the following “quantifying” questions of; what do I want to do that is so gravely dangerous that I have to think in such a way? Am I already traumatized from that 36 hours lock-up? Have I already lost my fight after being handcuffed in my own home that one time? Is this how much faith I have on Singapore (the state)? Would I put unnecessary attention/shame to my family for challenging the system, or the authority? How do I generate controversial narratives without putting my freedom or identity at risk? How much risks can I take as a citizen/an artist before my personal freedom gets impounded? Does it have to be at the expense of an individual — an “exemplary convict”? How can I talk about the fraud committed through the different state apparatuses? How far of an extent is the exploration of the limits of (il)legality done by utilizing a body or by creating a fictitious one, challenging the rhetorics of state apparatuses and thus, questioning the legitimacy of law, authority and power?
I’m just thinking aloud here. I hope this thought exercise can trigger a larger discourse and perhaps an ongoing writing/propositional work.
Now, happy New Year again, to readers, RFAOH crew, all ex and current residents, wherever you are!
Finding Home, Finding Love and Finding Work: the Proximity Between Us
It’s 8,500km kilometers as I type away (when en route from Singapore to Zurich). This is finally over, I meant my time in Singapore… Pardon my tone but it was hard being there; the anxiety, the panics, the stress and so on. Work was hardly possible — except during my first week — with everything going on at home now.
One would accuse me of being an escapist. Perhaps I am, but I am also very much so trying to face the problems that I (and everyone else) have of; finding home, finding love and finding work. I do not expect these things to magically be resolved and therefore I’m constantly telling myself that it is okay to be in such a state — a state of precarity — I just have a more unconventional approach, that’s all. Moreover, it’s been way past that question of, “why leave, not stay”, it is exactly because of my failure to see and grasp the reality of staying after that trauma. Despite that, my heart is dying to stay but my soul gets sucked dry each time I try.
I’m glad we did not meet (yes, I said it) although we did briefly and coincidentally crossed path. And the reason being because we are just not ready to see each other again, or maybe it is really just me. Being friends is wishful thinking because the moment we fell in love we both knew going back would be impossible (as our history has shown). I am accepting that “we” will become memories we hold dear to. Since all else has failed, my insistence on moving on and letting go came on so strong after that trauma, it is only fair that we both try to let this love go, just like how we held on to it.
Chances are, I’m going to be drifting for a few years but that’s fine as long as I’m doing something. I will naturally “settle” once I find a place that gives me a reason to. The possibilities of moving back to Singapore is high considering the urgency but then, how possible is it for me to maintain life both in Amsterdam and Singapore? In terms of work, at the moment (as I always say at the end of the year) it looks promising. My main task would be completing my masters thesis and graduating from the DAI in June with a kick-ass research on hand. Then, hopefully ending my hiatus and kicking off with a Demasculinized research residency with Andre in Switzerland and then a research (I cannot disclose yet) in Beijing for two months before returning to Singapore for a bit and Amsterdam during late fall.
Writing from Yogyakarta airport! I survived the presentation with a jetlag! I think I started out really scared and awkward, reading directly from my paper without giving a proper introduction. I had to break it down further as someone from the audience commented that my paper was too abstract and “poetic”. There were more questions later on, so I’d like to think that it went okay as I answered those questions. Most importantly, people came to speak to me afterwards about my concept. I guess my only complaint is that the presentation just wasn’t horizontal enough. I was nice to see support from some of the audience.
After the symposium, it has been mostly hanging out with people, going to art spaces, dinners, etc. in a very relaxed mode. Unfortunately, I caught a cold, a series of headaches after more than two weeks of traveling; Brussels, Eindhoven, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Singapore and now here in Yogyakarta.
Thoughts about moving here are getting stronger and the possibilities are higher than ever. While chatting with Gesya, I’ve been thinking how ridiculous it has been to go all the way to the Netherlands to be closer to a network so close to home and untouchable from Singapore. This totally reminds me of my response when Sidd Perez’s mentioned the “circuit” after her presentation. When is one considered to be outside of the “art circuit”? What kind of works or production allows one to stay in such a “circuit”? Who makes the decision for the kind of works to represent a certain nationstate? These are questions to be asked
Thank you Equator Symposium! Everyone I’ve met and just met this semi-work trip; Enin, Grace, Riksa, Ratna, Tamara, Tepu, Nindit, Gesya, Charles, Sidd, Edwina, Sanne, Malcolm and many others! Although I really hate to present, I must say that I also learnt and know what I am truly uncomfortable about doing, hence, making it a really valuable experience!
I am not panicking about going back to Singapore, so that’s a good thing. Although I know the panic attack will come at some point but I can’t afford to anticipate when it will happen. I just need to be busy; working for money, writing, making plans, etc. Even Time Capsule reminds me how long I have not been ‘home’. ‘Home’, because we fell apart. ‘Home’, because I used to have a room that I cannot enter anymore for my own sake. ‘Home’, because my parents might want to get a divorce which potentially means this ‘home’ might just mean nothing at the end. ‘Home’, because I do not long to be back here or be present here anymore…
How timely. I need to work on a piece of writing for a publication for the research residency I participated in Biella. I hope being in Singapore temporarily can help me in some ways on that essay.
This is going to be somewhat a ranty post because I’ve been rather stressed lately because of the symposium I’m about to deliver in Yogyakarta.
I started my DAI week pretty good as I’ve been hired as a freelance craftsman at a leather designer bag brand called Maria Jobse. The ‘interview’ went really well, we immediately hit off, Maria and I think quite similarly in terms of worldview, work ethics, life patterns and so on. I would be able to start working around January which is great because that is about the time I would really hit the bottom of my bank account. So the job part is settled.
The following day went completely haywire. I don’t know how to describe it and it was also beyond comprehensible. I had sufficient sleep but I woke up uneasy and super intense knowing I’ve yet to finish my paper. I was pondering over comments on my paper made by Moonis and also discussions surrounding topics of art and social change, decoloniality and modernity in class, headed by Nick Aikens, Charles Esche and guest, Will Bradley.
The story began when I left my phone on the hostel bed that morning, I returned to find my phone untouched. Then, I thought I might be too late for class, so I decided to take a bus to the center. I checked out of the bus when I got off and headed towards Van Abbemuseum. When I arrived, I realized that my wallet was missing. Panicking, because the class was about to begin, I thought I must have just misplaced it. When the class ended, I tried to trace back the route I took early that morning but I had to just accept that I have lost my wallet. Aldo (a DAI schoolmate) helped me to purchase a new ov chipkart (the transport card in the Netherlands).
Back in Arnhem, I went to the bank and they told me that I cannot take out any money because I don’t have my passport with me. The ov chipkart office did not allow me to block my card because I could not provide the address that my card was initially sent to, which is the address of a graduated DAI student, Sebastian who had moved to the U.S. While trying to contact him on Facebook realizing that it was still early in the morning on the east coast. I saw a message containing a picture of the cards from my wallet!! And it was sent at 9am in the morning but filtered because I have no connections with this person, Talal Fayez, a Palestinian.
I called him and thanked him, then he said that he cannot speak English and knows a little Dutch. I passed my phone around to Kim and later he said he speaks Arabic. Mira spoke and arranged a meet up for me and I was beaming at that point because I had also spoken to a staff from the international office on the consequences of losing my Dutch residence permit-ID). The damage would be over €300 to get my card replaced. After much chat, it was finally decided that I would leave to meet him right away, which was in the town of Maarheeze, 45mins south of Eindhoven. This was when the horror began, all my trains were disrupted and/or delayed or simply too full to get in — all of them. I wasn’t the only victim, at least 2 trains full of passengers were waiting to board and most of them were going to Eindhoven airport. Many of them must have missed their flights. I managed to get into one train with an American couple beside me trying to catch their flight, frantically trying to check the next connection from the next destination.
Arnhem to Eindhoven is a simple one-hour journey with a transit in Den Bosch. Due to the disruptions, it took me roughly 3 hours including 20minutes of walking, to Talal’s house in Maarheeze. During my journey, Talal was messaging me asking me where I’m at, making me so anxious and stressed. At some point, I even regretted making this trip because I could very well get my cards replaced but because I’m leaving the Netherlands in 3 days, I had to return to get it. Upon arrival, this kind soul invited me to his house, made me sit down, wanted to charge my phone that was at 1% and wanted me to stay for dinner at his house. He called his friend who was able to speak English to translate what I had to say to him. At that point, I was wanted to return to the DAI. I felt so rude to reject him over and over again and he was very very persistent. Later, he even walked me to the bus stop.
I was tired, battered and hungry. (Again) I could not get on the train I was supposed to when I arrived in Eindhoven so I took the chance to get myself a Burger King meal. I finally managed to fill my stomach, got on the train with the remaining food. Right before the train departed, the American couple whom I stood beside with dashed in and saw me sitting there munching. We looked at each other and started sort-of laughing and exclaimed, “oh god, this is not happening”. They sat down and I offered them fries. We exchanged stories and really started chatting away. They were going back to Nijmegen since they missed their flight and I was returning to Arnhem, which was the stop before. We really exchanged our stories, talked about education, philosophy, economy and American politics and it was such a great conversation. We were so glad to have bumped into each other and kind of mutually comforting each other after such a terrible day.
Without Aldo’s free student subscription ov chipkart, I would have spent more than €60 just to retrieve my wallet, which would have been cheaper to really have my cards remade (€7.5 for bank card, €11.5 for ov chipkart, €15 for gym card). When going towards Maarheeze, I was also illegally using the 40% discount for joint travels, cause I was alone. I used Aldo’s free subscription for the bus ride since the chances of getting caught was slim to none. Of course, whatever it is, I got my wallet back, I’m gonna try to minimize the damage by submitting a refund request from the train companies for all that disruptions. I left the DAI at 2:30pm and returned at 8:30pm, completely missing the first class of Casco.
I have since returned to my stressed mode, trying to finalize my paper that I have to deliver on 29th in Yogyakarta. In a strange way, I am ‘glad’ to be stressed, as compared to what I had gone through that is still beyond my comprehension.
Signing off from Arnhem, I will report from Yogyakarta next week, after the Equator Symposium!
My curiosity to know is causing me dollars. I’m not the earning moneys like I’m supposed to. Not that I have to but because I’ve been told that way (I believe many people too); going to school equates to privilege, getting higher education guarantees job(s) and financial security/stability. Good news though, I’ve been selected to present a paper at the Equator Symposium in Yogyakarta, Indonesia end of this month and I have decided to also return to Singapore as I figured that I am not going to ‘work for free’, in fact, at my own expense. I admit to feel a bit bitter about not being (fully) funded to go to Indonesia but despite that, there are so many pros for going since I can really spend a bit of time there to do research and network that can really bring about future good. Most important, returning to Singapore to stall my financial difficulties in Amsterdam; I’m going put myself to work while I’m back (like work that actually pays and has nothing to do with my practice).
My recent obsessions of certain subjects of interest have also led me to obsessively looking for money on the internet; scholarships, research grants, project grants and travel funds. One inevitably starts realizing how much knowledge production is dictated by granting institutions through a set of frameworks (from god knows where).
Lately, I am really interested in China’s new Economic Silk Road, where I see it as China’s attempt to return to its former glory. The ancient Silk Road was what connects between the East and the West through the harsh and inhospitable plains of Eurasia. The pioneering innovations such as the printing press and gunpowder found their way to Renaissance Europe. Western academics and scholars (especially the Americans and British) have been particularly critical of China’s new plans. Let’s call them Sinoskeptics. The unjust and biasedness of these Westerncentric academics and scholars are truly disgusting. I’m not siding China here (and you’ll see what is the main gist of this post). Some Sinoskeptics think that this is China’s blatant attack on the world order established by the United States through imperial motives and dominations, without considering the intrusiveness of current world order that is currently in place.
Yang Rui in this interview was speaking to Wang Gungwu, a prominent scholar from Malaysia currently teaching in Singapore and Australia and has been an ‘expert’ on the Overseas Chinese diaspora. With the way Yang frames his questions, allowed Wang Gungwu to immediately point out the inequalities of global institutions such as, the IMF, United Nations and so on, suggesting how China is continuously sidelined and oppressed by these institutions that have never thrived to be equal in their conception. And of course, this is what CCTV wants their viewers to hear. Yang, being an extremely prominent and popular TV host in China on the state-own channel, he often highlights the unjustness of the West. Furthermore, using a very particular set of vocabulary and language to constantly perpetuate notions of Sinocentrism and attack Sinoskeptics that is now becoming excessively propagandistic.
Shifting the focus a bit, but still on and in China, this is the “Third World 60 Years: The 60th Anniversary of Bandung Conference”, Hangzhou Forum, moderated by Chen Kuan-Hsing and Gao Shiming, organized by the Inter-Asia School. The reason why I’m drawn to this is because having met Hilmar Farid last year, I learnt a lot more about Indonesia’s history and the legacy of the Bandung Conference. Now the Director General of Culture at the Ministry of Education and Culture, Farid (in his presentation segment) came with a rather unique point of view; calling for the redefinition of the ‘nation-state’, promotion of transnational collectivity conversation. Although he did not explicitly drop the idea that we should ‘forget about Bandung’ but he did put forth the more urgent questions regarding the state affairs and the role of the state.
Through the roundtable talk, we can see that the ‘Bandung Effect’ did fail; the interactions between the speakers were not profoundly engaging, although all of them made valid points in respect of the interconnectivity between Asian, African and Latin countries 60 years after the Bandung Conference in 1955.
So I’m thinking about starting off my paper/presentation, A Political Grey Space: Decolonizing after Dewesternization, with what Farid (and many other critiques) had mentioned about the ‘failure’ of Bandung. How is dewesternization and decolonization taking place at the moment. And finally introducing notions of ‘ambivalence’ and ‘ambiguity’ as a method and transition to post-state thinking/imagination in the context of decoloniality. The ideas of ‘ambivalence’ and ‘ambiguity’ here is extremely applicable and already happening in Indonesia and is something countries around the region should learn from.
I think it is inevitable that I often delve into this ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, or ‘local’ and ‘foreigner’ topic since I’m living in Amsterdam right now. However, it was only recent that I have accepted that I am a moving body and I have un/subconsciously ‘performed’ this displacement over the last years residing in Singapore.
I was hit hard with this confrontation while in Bandung with the DAI last October. Later on, I wrote an essay titled, #ILEFTMYPDFSOMEWHEREBETWEENSINGAPOREANDINDONESIA: Locating Geopolitical Identity Displacement and the Act of Locating, uncovering my own doings and trying to understand my position from this displacement. Moreover, this oxymoronic title illustrates the missing point pretty darn well; as arts and cultural producer, our work is still very much location-bounded — despite the supposed convenience brought by technology — and this only means that time and space will be redefined over and over again.
But let’s put the ‘art’ aside and talk about how do or should people deal with this transition of time, space and place? Its easy to put a finger on globalization after many places have/had benefitted from this system and these places have since gave rise to forms of ‘localism’ — with some being extremely right-winged and many becoming to be as such. “Our” political system and society is not ready to take on the transnational (cultural) identity that globalization have brought us to. The idea of the nationstate is built based on the fact that it is a body that can keep and protect its people within a border and therefore to ensure the existence and ‘conceptual notion of survival’ of a particular group of people. This modernist project have now of course expanded to be something with a ‘darker side’ and this ‘darker side’ is ensuring the ‘basic needs of survival’.
I was thinking about these issues while having a conversation with a friend/artist-colleague from Singapore about how she only feels happy when she’s away from Singapore. I told her that that feeling or conception is a total misconception because you can also feel unhappy elsewhere. One fact also remains for her, she has never lived anywhere else other than Singapore. If returning to Japan a few times a year and can renew your ‘happiness’, then you can keep doing that and retain your ‘unhappiness’ in Singapore. While I’m not saying that if she’d live in Japan, she’d also feel the ‘unhappiness’, I’m simply saying that we humans constantly pick out good and bad things from the places we live anyway but whether we ultimately can like and choose to live at a place depends very much on our own psychological navigation of a place. Or, it can be deduced to how we choose to psychologically deal with a physical space considering the dynamics and patterns of the city, interaction (both human and spatial) and these factors often changes the personal, psychological and emotional perception drastically.
Truth is, it will always be hard for Singaporeans to live anywhere else (I’d love to elaborate on this at some point because this is altogether another topic itself, dealing with governance and management).
Here I copied part of our conversation:
Me: How do you think in Singapore, we consider a ‘foreigner’ a local?
Friend: When they get a PR (Permanent Resident status) or our citizenship.
Me: Ya but that is state/modern-nationhood rhetorics. I meant on a ground level.
Friend: When they can speak our language?
Me: I bet that there are tons of people who has our citizenship but still retained their culture. Should we allow that? We should, right? Considering that we’re a nation that empathize and ‘tolerate’ such (cultural and religious) differences.
Language (if referring to Singlish) is a very complex tool that Singapore uses but it is also the thing that creates that division of this ‘local’ ‘non-local’ phenomenon. Is Singlish (colloquial Singapore English) our language?
Friend: No la. Not like this — perhaps it’s like we can behave and speak the way that we feel comfortable to one another? I don’t know how should I put it.
Me: Singapore is ‘doing great’ in terms of cultural ’tolerance’ and in fact better than any country on this planet but not transparent enough I think. (I have the impression Canada isn’t too bad given their liberal views on immigration but I haven’t been there or know that much to say).
I think I need to read more otherwise I keep getting these ‘thought blocks’ that’s not helping with my writing. Although rfaoh is really giving me a great reason and space to write and read more.
I decided to also post an extremely rfaoh-appropriate photo of what I did yesterday. I composed most parts of this post the day before, read a bit of Walter Mignolo, drinking, then finally playing Civilization V and drafting a logo for my handmade leather goods business on etsy.
I’m gonna give everyone here the ‘better’ discount code [FRIENDZONE] — 25% off, so show some love if you can? I’m still going through the rebranding phase at the moment and I need help with the logo, and also language translation from English to any of these languages; French, German, Italian, Japanese, Dutch. I’m doing this to support myself because as I mentioned before I’m running low on funds and might have to withdraw myself from the DAI and return to Singapore before end of this year if money doesn’t come into my bank account magically (just kidding). Well, I want to simply avoid taking more loans, especially not from the banking institutions.
It’s been two weeks since Faro. Summer is finally here, or should I say I’ve been chasing after summer? I’m headed towards Budapest from Bratislava as I write. This lonely traversing life is starting to affect my mental health. Although the cold had left but it will come back as soon as I return to Amsterdam. Summer hasn’t exactly made things better. Summer is making me jealous of people taking road trips with their family. Summer is love birds making out in the parks and frolicking the grass. Summer is going nude on the beach and skinny dipping with your friends and lovers.
I’ve always pride about being able to work and travel at the same time. Because of this trip, I have decided that I will avoid traveling for no reason other than for work. Reason being that my remaining funds will not last me until next summer. Even if I were to scrimp and save, I can only stay until the end of winter. I’d probably have to leave before the DAI Roaming Academy in March. I am not entirely keen about staying in Amsterdam neither do I want to really move back to Singapore but I need a job to pay my debt and that’s the cold hard reality. At the same time, there are so much opportunities for me outside of Singapore and I don’t want to miss them.
I admit I’m a little less excited about the next DAI year already because people left, everything that’s no-questions-awesome about it has changed. But of course, my research has to go on and my thesis needs to be written. I want my works/writings to get picked up. There’s going to be Contour Biennale in Mechelen curated by Natasha Ginwala who was my coach, and part of the DAI is going to Brazil next March after visiting Contour. So I should really be looking forward.
Perhaps I am moving on, since I am making plans. I don’t know what’s what anymore. My heart and mind are dislocated and dispersed continentally and I am allowing as such because it’s okay to not be okay. I am preparing my mind to this countdown because returning to Singapore is a really big confrontation for me after what happened. Furthermore, I do think that I have to face this in order to really move on.
A few wants or aims:
Present some of my written works
Get a job (and clear my debt)
Work and collaborate with artists-researchers and philosophers in East Asia and Southeast Asia
How do I capitalize on my situation? How to turn my weakness into strength? How can I share my passion? And back to that issue from/of traveling, yesterday was a rather comforting day when I met a group of travelers (from Italy and Germany) at the bus stop of Devin Castle that is situated outside of Bratislava. We started really talking on the bus and one of the guy shared his experience about being and living in India for 6 months. He later on started complaining about Europeans and their ‘privileged traveler’ syndrome that I somewhat talked about in my first post — that really surprised me. I saluted him for his ‘sensitivity’ towards the unknown and the foreign. He is at a young age of 23, from Milan and studies engineering management. Of course, let’s not point fingers at the Europeans. I think tourists coming from developed societies tend to have this ugly trait (including myself) and sometimes academics seem to be doing this the most often, assuming they are experts of certain knowledge simply because they have a university degree. I have learnt over time and experience to not cast a perception or judgement, or to exercise a certain superiority just over the state of things just because you have the monetary power to do so.
Today, there is a “crisis of knowing”. The questions I posed before on tourism and education (specifically humanities subjects) is to research on how to change the future conception of knowing and cultivate societal receptiveness to the state of unknown? Can trans-border education across continents work? Currently, such networks already exist but are they doing enough? What are the methodologies employed? What can a geolocation, culture and local politics teach people albeit studying something seemingly different? How can we promote knowledge diversity and to learn beyond the self? Universities need to be decolonized, knowledge production as a process needs to be detached from institutional capitalization and had to be understood as such that knowledge cannot and should not be owned. Which had in turn created generations of ‘experts’ in certain fields/industries who are “most certainly qualify” and granting them authority to speak, write and document about ‘the others’.
“By pluriversity, many understand a process of knowledge production that is open to epistemic diversity. It is a process that does not necessarily abandon the notion of universal knowledge for humanity, but which embraces it via a ‘horizontal strategy of openness to dialogue among different epistemic traditions.”
I never ever dreamt about coming to Portugal but I have succumbed to the stories of the southern heat, beach, cheap food and booze. I remember it was just 24 hours ago when I decided to ditch a proposal for a residency in Japan.
My friends left my apartment at 2:30am and I left straight for Schiphol airport, willingly saving my sleep during the 3 hours flight to Faro.
First impression of Faro is that it is surprisingly clean, small and quiet (not that I expected the other way round). Today I spent nearly 3 hours walking along the mildly hot sands and did not enter the ocean. I thought a lot… Mainly about the past year. Many things cross my mind; practice, life, love, and so on.
I’m tired – of traveling, moving or not knowing what’s going to be ahead of me (after I complete my masters program and the end of my ‘on-hiatus’ stint). I realized that I have lesser and lesser patience to travel. Especially seeing bad behaviors, cities in decadence, practicing the unintentional act of (not) knowing, the pretenseand oblivion (of the privileged).
Of course, I know I am reproducing this privilege. Which is why I’m stuck at what I should/could do as an artist. Maybe, I’m just not an artist? I’m thinking if ‘deep tourism’ can transform the current education system and change the mode of knowledge production? Can ‘deep tourism’ eradicate this unintentional act of knowing? (Pardon me for speaking in ‘codes’ right now. Give me some time to unpack these notions.)