In Other Guises: Art and Politics in Singapore

Given the history of its governance up to this present moment, authoritarian control has evolved from Singapore’s agonized past to its manifest destiny. The consequences of power and the foreclosure of opportunities and spaces for freer embodied expressions shape cultural productions and its receptions. At the same time, questions about the difficulties and complexities of artmaking become the signal moment in every other engagement by artists from Singapore with their audiences abroad. Artists are transformed from makers and creators into country representatives called to account for the spectre haunting the island, the spectre of censorship. While the questions are understandable, even inevitable, the dominant influence of state power seems to produce only binary expectations of possible responses; they are either collaborationist or oppositional, either a socially or politically-oriented artistic practice or an art that submits itself to visual or dramatic pleasure. As though the preponderous agenda-set by the state limits the artists’ and audiences’ imagination on how artists can address, or embody the impact of the political power for and on those who inhabit this place. Bunny by Daniel Kok and Luke George The dancer and choreographer Daniel Kok, in close collaboration with the Australian artist Luke George, spent time together in Japan and separately afterwards, learning the art of shibari, or Japanese-style tight binding. To this central repertoire of erotic bondage, they added nautical styles of rope knotting and macrame weaves, among other rope manipulation techniques to create a two-hour long bondage-installation involving the binding of objects, their own bodies as well as the audiences’. The production was first developed in Beppu Project Japan, previewed at the Substation and premiered at Campbelltown Arts Center, all 2015, before embarking on an ambitous tour in 2016 that saw performances in TFAM Yokohama, Abrons Art Center New York, and OzAsia Festival Adelaide. … Continue reading In Other Guises: Art and Politics in Singapore