Socially Engaged Practice. Film. Wearable Art. Performance.
Author: Fié Neo
Fié Neo is an interdisciplinary artist who makes socially engaged works through participatory practice, wearable art and film. She creates spaces and encounters for human connection. She also designs for theatre and films in costume and set. In 2017, she set up INSEP (International Network for Socially Engaged Practitioners) which brings together people around the world in the field of socially engaged practices to share projects and initiatives. Fié has performed and showed her works at Royal Albert Hall, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017, London Design Festival 2016, Gillman Barracks and others. She also hosts a podcast called Onions Talk.
Funded by KACES (Korea Arts and Culture Education Service) as part of Asia Teaching Artist Exchange
Four artists and five participants came together to explore and exchange the personal experiences of Asian females. Over a process of eight months, artist facilitators work with the participants to create a script of their personal experiences. The scripts were then passed to another participant to be read aloud. The participants also had the opportunity to meet each other through online sessions that we organised.
An experimental film was made by Fié Neo to weave together the experiences of the participants.
Team Members: Fie Neo (Singapore), Ohkyoung Noh (South Korea), Yongse An (South Korea), Chetna Mehtrotra (India)
Scampia is a neighbourhood near Naples that used to be Europe’s largest open air drug market. I was invited to participate in this year’s symposium, organised annually by an association called CasArcobaleno. Its literal translation means Rainbow House.
I’ve not seen anything quite like Scampia. So much chaos, pain and frustration yet in between all that, so much love and patience from the people who chose to dedicate their time to support the community.
My heart goes out to the kids who’ve been hurt by adults, who didn’t receive the care or attention that they deserve, who have to grow up in this battle zone between police and camorra where cigarettes and drugs are the norm. During my stay at CasArcobaleno, I realised that this place is a safe haven for these children and teenagers who have no where else to go.
I’ve been told that many of the children here don’t have dreams, which is why one of the workshops that Hugo and I designed was to get them to think a little about the possibilities out there.
The adults here are cynical about change, especially after all those years of drug war, strong presence of the mafias and deep corruption. But the hope is in the children and that’s also why this art symposium was prepared for the children and youths in the neighbourhood.
Ladies! Have you been feeling angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed by these recent high profile cases we see on the news – stalking, illegal peeping cameras, sexual harassment on public transport, domestic violence… If yes, we hear you!
Ladies’ night: Our time to talk is a participatory theatre project that runs for 3 months. Every week, we will come together and hold a safe space for participants to voice their concerns. This is an intergenerational project meant to offer a platform for exchange – what did women have to go through in the 70s? Is there a glass ceiling for women? How do you tackle workplace harassment? How do you navigate unwanted sexual advances or online sexual harassment? We know it’s difficult to have all the answers so this project is meant to tap upon the collective intelligence of women in the group to support one another and create a safe space to address these entangled feelings and emotions.
I remember talking to Aunty Lalitha on the streets about my project and Aunty Theresa who was walking her dog back then overheard bits of our conversation on Opera Estate’s history. She started joining our conversation and animatedly shared her stories growing up in this estate back in the 60s.
I thought what was interesting about my public intervention at Siglap Linear Park were the organic and unexpected connections I made. I grew up here but never felt that rooted or connected to the local community. Doing this project was like going down Alice’s rabbit hole – there were so many interesting stories when I dug deeper.
I hope this project would be a starting point for more local connections to be made in this neighbourhood, beyond me and my project.
Do you know the story of Jalan Tua Kong’s famous chicken rice store? Bet you didn’t know that Uncle Chin grew up in this neighbourhood or that he does guitar jam sessions at his store every Friday and weekend. Hear his story and remember to say hi to him next time you get your chicken rice!
This temple holds many of my childhood memories. My late grandmother used to volunteer at the temple every year. This was a place of community gathering for me – lots of free food and aunties, uncles who all seemed to know my grandmother. I loved their vegetable buns and the annual event where there’d be a huge paper marché dragon boat engulfed in flames in the sea at East Coast Park.
What would socially engaged art processes look like in business, tech and the entrepreneurial space? What could sustainability be for socially engaged art practitioners?
Anchoring the session is socially engaged artist, Fié Neo. In her journey across UK, France, Canada and Singapore, Fié has graduated art school, worked in a non-profit organisation on European projects, established INSEP (International Network for Socially Engaged Practitioners), worked with the homeless and refugees, dabbled with social entrepreneurship. Currently exploring the possibility of socially engaged art as a service in different sectors to open up different income streams for practitioners. Fié will be sharing her multifarious experience and her arresting journey as an artist, which will be followed by a Q&A discussion.
The session will be on Zoom, but we’ll do our best to keep it warm and alive Bring your dinner and unwind with us after work!
This is the estate I grew up in. Returning after six years abroad left me feeling detached from my local neighbourhood. Houses changed, people changed. I started to question what’s left of memories and nostalgia – where do I go when I want to reminisce my childhood? The places don’t look the same anymore. Thus this project, Oppy to try and understand this neighbourhood and its inhabitants.
A resident shared that back in the days, people borrowed things from one another in kampungs. When you run out of salt, you borrow from your neighbour and you need to build those relationships with the people around you. 🧂Nowadays, we have the supermarket everywhere nearby. 🏪
It made me think if we are becoming more isolated the more self sufficient we are? People helped and depended on one another in older days. They might have had less materially but the interdependence builds the social bonds and relationships needed for healthy communities. Nowadays it’s so ingrained in us to have to figure out our own problems, that people are busy, that we should be independent – we inevitably find it difficult approaching others for help.
That’s why I started my public interventions – to create social situations in which these connections and relationships could be formed.
Yesterday was the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline. The Americans have left the country. All other foreign country troops left over the weekend or on Friday. For many Afghans, this would mean the loss of a precious route out.
The Taliban is still hunting down journalists, activists, former local staff and their families. Some have already been killed over the past weeks. People want to leave and live.
This painting sums up how I’ve been feeling over the past weeks – trying to help some families there while physically being in a country of privilege and comfort. Life went on as per normal here, the news of Afghanistan just a tragedy worthy of maybe five minutes of attention for many people here. Over there it’s life and death, trauma and fear.
My midnights spent researching and writing emails to embassies received no response. Over there, it’s a privilege to have a passport, to be educated, to understand a different language, to have worked for international organisations. Many people don’t have that privilege and without that, not even a shot at making it to the evacuation list.
As of now, if you are on the Taliban’s black list, there’s no legal way out. In fact, for most Afghans there’s no way out that’s not dangerous or life threatening.
I’m writing this so that the Afghans left behind will not be forgotten. I’m writing this so that more of us will care enough to try and do something or influence our governments. I’m writing this so that precious lives won’t be forgotten and swept away as just another tragedy we cannot do anything about so we pretend nothing happened.