Ladies’ Night: Our time to talk

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.

Oppy – Aunty Theresa’s story

Aunty Theresa’s story

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.

Oppy – Uncle Chin’s chicken rice story

Uncle Chin’s story

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!

Oppy – 金山寺

Jin Shan Si – Golden Mountain Temple

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.

𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗘𝗡𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗦𝗘 𝗚𝗔𝗧𝗛𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝟮 with Artswok

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!

Register by 7 Nov, 2359. Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.sg/…/the-greenhouse-gathering-2…

Oppy

What are your opera estate memories?

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.

What connects you to your local community?

#publicintervention #art #community #local #siglap #participatoryart #sociallyengagedart #oppy

Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021

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.

Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021, Fié Neo
Limits, 2021, Fié Neo

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.

I went on a dating app to find out what’s stopping us from systems change.

Systems change

Those who know me will know that I’m a very curious person. I love hearing people’s stories. I’m an artist and my art is essentially one big inquiry of humanity.

My work intersects art, social change and conversations. I’m currently trying to understand the inertia to systems change by listening to people and hearing what stops them from living a purpose driven life or quitting a job that doesn’t serve them. I assumed that people hated their 9 to 6 jobs (often plus overtime) and that many businesses are exploitative of people and environment.

I figured I needed to challenge these assumptions and be open to what might come out from the other side that I don’t understand. I chanced upon a report on a dating app and was curious about how they designed it and their take on what kind of elements create better conversations. Then it struck me that through such platforms, I can reach people from different walks in life, different social classes, different job titles, different industries and in different locations. It offers quite an expansive reach and opportunities to talk to people I wouldn’t usually get to.

Continue reading “I went on a dating app to find out what’s stopping us from systems change.”

In Search of Hope

What hope can you find when everything is fucked?

This is a film project that charts my journey in search of hope during COVID-19.

At the end of February 2020, I left France after a year of learning with climate activists and civic groups, overwhelmed with pessimism and despair. I was prepared to quit the system and find an eco-village to spend the rest of my days before one big disaster wipes us all out.

Prior to that, I spent years researching systems change and regeneration (Theory U, Sacred Economy, post-capitalism, UBI etc), which led me to switch from fashion to socially engaged arts practice and then move from the UK to France (a year of work at an NGO). At the end of the year, I accepted our impending doom and genuinely believed that the only way forward out of this mess is if we all quit cities to live in eco-villages. 

I left for North America in search of innovative practices. It was my last bit of hope in finding something innovative that we can do in cities within this system. And then COVID hit. I ended up staying in Canada a lot longer than expected amidst a whole lot of uncertainty and flight cancellations. I volunteered at people’s homes, was almost homeless at points, worked on organic farms, learned about permaculture, regenerative and restorative agriculture, change networks, co-ops, social innovation networks and various change making initiatives. In July I started a podcast documenting all these interesting conversations with people I met. This is an experimental film with edited snippets of the podcast recordings along with my narrative of this journey. 

It is about this crazy journey during COVID-19, about my search for hope but more importantly, about all these change making initiatives and actions people are taking all over the world. This is a call for action, but also an offering of various responses to our collective search for hope. This film is meant to inspire, empower and rejuvenate all those who care and to collectively take action. 

Film Festivals:

Ecocine – Festival Internacional de Cinema Ambiental e Direitos [Offical Selection]

https://ecocine.eco.br

SEA X SEA: Southeast Asia X Seattle Film Festival [Offical Selection]

Film International Storical & Short Film Festival [Offical Selection]

Zetimpuls Film Festival (Vienna, Austria)

The Lift-Off Sessions [Offical Selection]

First-Time Filmmaker Sessions [Offical Selection]

Creative Generation “Why change?” podcast

I was recently interviewed on Creative Generation’s “Why Change?” podcast and had a chat with ITAC’s executive director Madeleine McGirk on my socially engaged practice journey and my work with INSEP. Tune in for the conversation!

In this episode you’ll learn:

What is socially engaged artistic practice?;

How our systems which support arts, education, and social change must continue to adapt…and how; and

About new opportunities to virtually engage with others and stay connected in artistic communities of practice.

https://creative-generation.org/podcast-episodes/socially-engaged-practice-with-fi-neo