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.
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.
We seek to start conversations on social and political issues surrounding gender inequality, sexism and violence against women. Rape, Donald Trump’s sexism, anti abortion laws, forced marriage in India…
Feminism should not be labelled as unattractive. It is about equality. The fight that the Suffragettes and so many fought before us, why are we still fighting for something so basic? This conversation requires the participation of men as much as women. The responsibility to act and create change is not just on women.
“Bonjour. In Marseille I am nicknamed La Quiche because I’m from Lorraine. Unfortunately, I am homeless. I was in the Légionnaires (military). In military we earn points for retirement. But due to an accident in Chad, I didn’t do the full 15 years of military so I can’t have the full retirement allowance and have to wait till I am 62 years old to be able to get out of here. After military, the army gave us the chance to retrain and change careers. I passed the diploma to become a firefighter and was employed because someone dropped out. I worked till 2014 but lost the job because I had a heart attack. I had government assistance but couldn’t work again as I couldn’t pass the health check up required for employment. I tried to apply for emergency allowance when I could no longer receive government assistance but was struggling with administration. They kept saying they didn’t receive my papers and at some point I had no money left to continue sending the documents.”
Hello all, here’s a video I’d really like to show everyone. I struggled a lot over the past 4 years about my role as an artist and what kind of impact I can possibly create with my work. Making of this video made me realise how my skills and resources can be used positively to give someone’s voice a platform to be heard. This will be shown in the exhibition at Central Saint Martins but I’m hoping to do a last push of publicity to encourage you all to come and join in my conversation zone to have a discussion about this.
Abdulhay and I met in May 2018 for a project in which we were both participants. On the first evening, we talked about war and violence and he shared with me his experiences. I thought about it for a few nights and offered:
“I have the filmmaking tools and skills, if there’s anything you’d like to say to the audience on British soil, let’s make a film.”
If he hadn’t told me he was from Syria I would not have known. In the making of the film I wanted to portray him in a way that was true and honest to how he presented himself to me. I wanted to show him as a person, with his own unique personality, character and love for his family, not that different from the rest of us.
In my subsequent research (many thanks to Mario Nicholas Hamad who’s doing a PHD on this war), I realised how severe the situation is and I am sad that this is all that I can do. Targeted military intervention is necessary to stop Assad’s airstrikes from killing more civilians. But for the British government to make that decision to get involved, public opinion is important. I hope this video provokes some thought and encourages more engagement in this issue.