Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Circus Animals 1

Opening Party in 15 minutes! Let's make some proper introductions first, though:

"It's so strange. There's so many different people."

"You’re talking about cross-cultural stuff, how you're born here, but you stay there. I stayed in Japan and I feel the same. That’s why my English never developed. "

Michikazu Matsune, Vienna.
Live performance, video and photography.

"It's interesting, what you tell me about the Japanese Occupation. Because five years ago in Japan, everyone was crazy about tapioca drinks."

“By accident I’m here I think, because I was supposed to go for lunch.”

"Oh, stop."

More to come after the party!

The Artists Have Arrived!

And we've been introducing ourselves each other in a circle since 3pm, talking about language and communication and global origins and theory and practice and collaboration.


It seems to be that communication always seems to fail. And that’s part of communication. You say 100, and someone thinks “polygon", or the listener thinks "99.99"… That’s the way I feel about communication in general. But shall I give up? My time runs out, so I'll just keep communicating? Language is definitely an immediate tool for my idea and maybe that’s not the only thing that fails when you communicate; language is translated. I’m very interested int that area of failing communication.

Looking at everybody’s biographies it’s very interesting, everyone’s ideas approach to creation and looking at my own biography, I look like an asshole, listing my awards. I wrote a bio as if it’s to get a grant. I love reading everyone’s bios except mine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chapter One: Loomings

It's the night before FCP, and our menagerie of artists is still flying in from each one's respective international timezone. But I've promised to update daily so I'll grab this op to expand a little on what I understand of TheatreWorks ideology.

Over the past decade, the Singapore government's been consciously reinventing Singapore as an "arts hub" - one of those London/Paris/Tokyo/New York cities where a citizen/tourist/expatriates can delight in immersion in Culture. There's hence been a largely successful effort to expand audiences for theatre/music/visual arts/dance/indie film/literature. The National Arts Council calls it "audience creation", as if we were moulding you guys out of clay or subatomic aether.

Now, the problem with having "audience creation" on your agenda is that you're suddenly beholden to market demands - you've gotta avoid alienating your viewers too much, you've gotta work within time constraints to create a finished international-standard product at the end of the day. This makes it that much more difficult to experiment.

You've gotta remember, the Singapore theatre scene of the 90s was chock-full of experiments - forays into forumtheatrepanAsiandevised- polyglot10minuteplaysitespecificBrechtiangaysexalternativepolitics fiestas that played to small but dedicated communities. Most theatremakers would agree that the drama scene's gotten rather less experimental since then.

Luckily, the folks at TheatreWorks somehow got very good at applying for international grants, so they wouldn't have to be beholden to this system. Aside from a few ra-ra shows like "Geisha" or "Sandakan Threnody" or "Diaspora", artists working with TW get the leisure to do personally-motivated work with little or no demand to be populist - tickets for their smaller shebangs are priced at $8, $5 or free or by-invitation-only, so there's no need to get into a tizzy if no-one comes to watch. What's important is the process.

The problem - and I speak as if KS only mentions one problem - is that one company alone doesn't set the tone for the culture. We want a Singapore - hell, we want a world - where people are open to new ideas, to new cultures, to new coincidences of contact.

Which is why FCP (atgreatexpensetothecompany) is FOC: anyone can call ahead and attend the events for free. And I really do believe the average TanAhKow in the street should be curious enough to want to witness feminist underwater nudie dancing by Julie Atlas Muz or revisionist silentmovie spinning by DJ Spooky. I'm a Warholite: I believe everyone should like everything.

KS has told me that he's no longer sure FCP is right at home in Singapore: maybe it'd have more of an impact stationed permanently in Vietnam, where the emergent culture is hungry for anything new. I told him he oughta go ahead and move the circus tent a little; maybe it'll make us on this island a little hungrier for his kind of art.

The week to come is a compromise: first we'll be occupying Singapore, then off to Ho Chi Minh City. To prepare for the trip, I'm reading the novels of Duong Thu Thuong and studying some elementary Vietnamese, because I do want to know more.

I am curious. Come be curious with me.

Seeya at the opening.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Le Programme a Singapour

In Singapore, we invite audiences to join us for the highlights of the FCP 2007 - Travelogue. All events are free.

But you've gotta contact us at +65-67377213 or to get a proper invitation first; it's the LAW. Also buzz us if you'd like for interviews with participants or for observership.)

31 Oct, 8 pm
Opening Exhibition of two video installations,
Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex - For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards (2001) and Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas: Battle of Easel Point - Memorial Project Okinawa (2003) by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba

Performance by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky

At 72-13.

02 Nov, 7 pm

Artist Presentations under the moonlight on Pulau Ubin

** For events on Pulau Ubin, the public is advised to be at the Pulau Ubin Jetty 30 minutes before the start of the event. Audiences will be ferried to the respective venue on the island.

03 Nov, 11am - 04 Nov, 1am

Superintense is a marathon of personal strategies of creativity in the urban context, in our worlds. From one morning to the next, all the FCP artists will have an hour each to present their work, their practice to themselves and a public audience. A table, a projector, a microphone, an audience; which can all be recontructed into an open space – the same conditions are given to each artist. They are invited to share their practice with the audience; past work, present work, future work. It can take the form of a talk, a lecture demonstration, a performance, slides, a video, a dj session, a workshop, a discussion. Without a break, all the artists relentlessly articulate their practice, communicating an insight to the myriad ways of inhabiting, dissolving, thinking, making, living, destroying, rejuvenating. An actor, an audience, a shared space. Take a cigarette pause on the run.

At 72-13.

A little background...

The Flying Circus Project started off in 1994 as an effort to inspire a pan-Asian performance tradition, bringing together traditional Asian performing artists and contemporary theatre practitioners to share and workshop. The products of this first generation of culture were Theatreworks's big ol' epic dramas like Lear and Desdemona where kabuki divas rubbed shoulders with rappers, alternately adored and deplored for their ambition, beauty and arguable autoexoticism.

From the 5th FCP in 2004 onwards, however, attention turned towards the development of individual contemporary artists, with a focus on visual artists (who're really the vanguard of the cultural experimentation in Singapore today, IMHO). With a programme of free discussion events and an agenda of provoking casual, interdisciplinary discussion, FCP's since hosted artists and intellectuals like Jerome Bel, Ho Tzu Nyen, Goenawan Mohamad, Tony Chakar, Tan Kai Syng, Bilal Khbeiz, Navin Rawanchaikul, Nadia Bamadhaj, Popo, Tintin Wulia, Ly Daravuth, KYTV and

But enough with the name-dropping. My name's Ng Yi-Sheng, I'm a writer in Singapore, and this year, I happen to be a Creative-In-Residence at 72-13. KS (Keng Sen) has directed me to be a witness - half-participant, half historian - at this year's FCP, moving between Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City to create some kind of daily and immortal document on our activities, thought processes, personalities, debates, etc. during our 100 hours of pleasure.

The merry men and maidens I'll mingle with include:

Brian Gothong Tan, Singapore
Caden Manson, New York City
David Subal, Vienna
Francis Ng, Singapore
Julie Atlas Muz, New York City
Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Ho Chi Minh City
Kaffe Matthews, London
Katarina Eismann, Stockholm
Kim Ngoc, Hanoi
Koosil-Ja, New York City
Luigi de Angelis, Ravenna, Italy
Meg Stuart, Berlin
Melati Suryodarmo, Gross Gleidingen, Germany
Michikazu Matsune, Vienna
Naeem Mohaiemen, Dhaka/NYC
Nibroll - Mikuni Yannaihara & Keisuke Takahashi, Tokyo
Ong Keng Sen, Singapore
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, New York City
Rachid Ouramdane, Paris
Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi
Tadasu Takamine, Kyoto
Tiffany Chung, Ho Chi Minh City
Yuen Chee Wai, Singapore

They run the gamut from sound art, burlesque dance, commercial filmmaking, deejaying, choreography and activism. Stay tuned for morethandaily updates.

This Is Your Captain Speaking

aka some words from the Artistic Director and the company:

2007 marks the 6th edition of the Flying Circus Project or FCP. This year's programme, TRAVELOGUE, begins in Singapore and then travels to Ho Chi Minh City. The themes of this TRAVELOGUE are memories/local wisdoms/future-ness. The FCP 2007 brings together artists from different cultures, disciplines and politics.

Established in 1994 by Ong Keng Sen, the FCP is a major programme exploring creative expression in Asia NOW! This transcultural, inter-disciplinary, long-term research and development programme consists of performances, screenings, conversations, laboratories, workshops, talks and engagement with local communities – food for thought for the future. The focal points are on individual creative strategies, diversities, cultural negotiation and the process of art practice.

In 2007, for the first time, the artists from Asia, Europe and North America will travel together to two different sites, interacting with the cities, localities and contexts. The Flying Circus Project artists will make presentations with invited guests of each city.

Some Thoughts from Hanoi

The Flying Circus Project (FCP) has matured immensely over the last 12 years. It has always been a gathering of artists interested in investigating our processes. In the larger scheme of our individual artistic trajectories, the FCP can be said to be many small processes which happen intimately, quietly and continue to resonate thereafter. Presently as i am here in Hanoi, accompanying Raqs Media Collective on their FCP Residency through Vietnam, i am struck by their words describing their practice. 'Talking and Listening' for instance is something which completely relates to the FCP practice. How little this is valued by artists and by audiences as we become overwhelmed by preconceived contexts and expectations. The beginning platform of the FCP is to provide a broad enough space that all invited artists of multiple disciplines from urban research to burlesque, individual interests, diverse contexts can participate. The actual tasks together are simple, we share a short intense time together, almost mundane. But hopefully, the communications amongst ourselves become more compassionate and sharper. Converations across boundaries within and without ourselves. Leaving our usual contexts to see again, hear again, experience again, reflect again. Being challenged to leave our artistic contexts to travel, an activity of the everyday, of mere mortals!

Quoting from travel magazines, using taglines like "100 perfect hours" to be in a city; opening up the space to be shared with the audiences who can join us on observerships throughout the time in both cities - "in the casual company of". The travel by the community of artists is also accessible for the audiences to partake. The performance of travel. Open spaces, secret spaces, shared spaces. A shared space of where there is no dumbing down, these are artists working all over the world who have not been seen in Singapore before and whose work i enjoy, appreciate. An occasion like this is also one to ask the question of why we are only seeing Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's video, 6 years after it was first premiered in Yokohama? What is the role of the audiences, the independent arts groups to articulate the kind of artistic and social discussion that we would like in our cities? How do we want to inhabit our cities? Conversely is it about making a mark or about leaving traces in the urban noise for those who desire to discover you?

Ong Keng Sen
Artistic Director
Flying Circus Project 2007


1, 2, 3...