Finally I'm beginning maybe to understand. You see daily I worry about directionlessness: umpteen artists, each established in hir field, gabbling, chattering, sharing tea and pop and biscuits and Singapore Slings, no workshop no panel no ticketed performance no VIP. Something Paul said tonight on another ride on the bus: “renewing and comparing” our practices, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, which is simply the act of talking: learning to think in another person’s language. I don’t know but communication must often take me out of my comfort zone, how about you?
Presentations: Friday night on the Pulau Ubin Chinese opera stage; Saturday morning to small hours of Sunday at 72-13. Some hawk branded techniques: Caden Koosil-Ja explicates her “life processing” approach to dance, Caden Manson his “real time film” which is neither film nor real nor in realtime. Some exhibit: the multichoreomedia of Nibroll, the music videos of Brian Gothong Tan. Some simply bear witness: Tiffany Chung exhibits V-pop/scooter culture, Raqs Media Collective revisits the Mahabharata in contemporary consciousness, Naeem documents rendez-vouses with ancient Shah-Jehara revolutionaries.
And there are slippages: Melati describes how she uses the body as a container, a form for all memories with a capacity to resist, but she does not capture the impact of her Butter Dance, in figuretight evening dress and red high-heeled shoes, twisting her arms Indonesian-dance style while her shoes slide from beneath her, falling splatonherback hard and ugly on the floor, caked with butter. Chee Wai plays a silent Internet chat with a blind woman; he plays a blackout strain of noise art; he speaks of Hadaka, his pan-Asian experimental sound collective. Half the artists attack him for lack of distinction from Euronoise; half the artists attack the other half for presuming to presume distinctive Asianness. Kim presents her music theatre: neotraditional Viet opera to improv and fingers on cymbals in the Museen Glyptothek until her DVD encounters technical difficulties of fast forward back shut down.
Guests are officially (un)invited to elude the government screening process: hence performance, of Luigi’s imitatio Heliogabalus, buck-naked donning papal mitre chasuble lipstick vagina on his navel, attempting to Alpine-ski towards an AM radio God. Hence performance, of Julie as third-wave feminist burlesque dancer, cavorting in a colossal latex balloon, singing Eidelweiss with her pussy, raping herself with a hoodoo-voodoo dismembered hand. Hence performance, of Takamime’s Kimura-san in which he jacks off a panplegic victim of the 1955 Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning Incident who guffaws into his head microphone as he cums onto his own face.
There’s a back-and-forth at work: uh-huh now I get it I say when Francis walks us through his photo/sculptural/video series: the confluence of commercialism - fashion’n’tourism – and critique thereof: mad babydoll models in a Chinatown heritage site. Paul aka DJ Spooky and Kaffe come up with rival models of sound philosophy: music as information says Paul, x-referencing Amiri Baraka/William Gibson/Romare Bearden/Luigi Russolo/Alexander Graham Bell/Garrett A. Morgan/muzak/the Luanda Triennale/Rebirth of the Nation at the Acropolis/NYC subway graffiti artists bombing the system. Music as sensation, says Kaffe, enclosing us in absolute darkness and sampling/resampling ourselves/oursounds until even the clitter-clatter of my fingers on the keyboard is also one with the medium.
Presentation: both a word that says “this is a mask” and “this happened”. This is why Arts Fest/Esplanade/ Museum programming officers come to witness the work: this is a happening is not happening; will not happen officially unless it’s festivaled or Sisticdotcommed: watch them watch Rachid do Death and the Young Man, crossing his feet on two bags of transfused blood, watch them watch Meg paroxysm into the violent spasms of her dance troupe Damaged Goods; maybe poach them for curatorship like you did Pichet Klunchun and Jerome Bel, you know where the good stuff is, huh? They say:
Come play me. Come play with me. For there is foray – Mich and David describe 25 works of their performance group M+S aka Mitsune and Subal in 25 minutes, cellphone alarm beeps now and move on every 60 seconds. Katarina admits no strategy or ideal but that of collaboration: video that allows a linguist to elevate her voice into epic Swedish gobbledegook, that allows a violinist to negotiate herself through double stars. And already this is what is happening: I am numb to aesthetics, munching hot dogs and Pocky and banana cake but the true artists are talking together, are critiquing gushing brushing the elbows of the other with their bangs and saying, we must work together. I would not have thought without contracts that chemistry arose but yes it rises.
What am I doing here, tapping out what has become a mere summary, a purposeful omission of the clearest strategies, playing the sex for cheap and the concept for mere vocabulary. Why am I outside, why am I falling asleep at 4 ayem, SUPERINTENSE they call it, but zone out and you are hyperdiffuse with the passage of dulcet moments and ennui; I am unable to endure and I pass out on the beanbag but Kaffe keeps playing, playing, and the lights come on and the champagne is not yet drained to the lees.
Because the directionlessness actually happens to the outside, where I squat with my laptop. Once you accept the word of Art you are drawn bulkily toward the Platonic ideal, the hot white light of wow oh wow? It is a Flying Circus, the clowns and bearded women aloft in a big-top-dirigible, everyone on the inside tumbling, rumbling like camisoles in a dry cleaner, making breaking contact and coitus of static cling, while farmers and hoeboys stare from below and wonder why. And yes we ascend but the Kansas we collapse exhausted into is not the same Kansas we left.
Brian Caden Chee Wai David Francis Jeebesh Julie Kaffe Katarine Keisuke Keng Sen Kim Koosil-Ja Luigi Mark Meg Melati Mikuni Monica Naeem Paul Rachid Shuddha Tadamime Tiffany; I love you where are you and will the human race itself grow hipster angel wings, and fly into the tent to become you?