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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Spreading positivity across the globe. Starting from Venice Biennale to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and finally ending off with Singapore’s art hot pot Gillman Barracks, I brought memory sharing to these different cities. Sad memories are released from the owners and stay in the pocket, while happy memories travel to strangers’ pockets to stay in the form of smiles on their faces.
Share a memory in exchange for a happy memory.
My most memorable ones? Kids x2, Swimming with dolphins
An open invite to people to share their stories of home and their background and experiences. A personal conversation to connect in a fast paced and diverse city, an attempt to break barriers and foster understanding amidst nationalist and anti-immigrants sentiments.
Performed at Battersea Arts Centre as part of Homegrown festival, 8 April 2017.
Sally carried the memories of refugees and volunteers at camps. This performance in particular was a social experiment to see the response of people in lieu of growing political tensions and xenophobia.
Do you live in your imagination? An altered reality away from what’s really happening in everyday life? We are advertising a reality that we want to be in. A collection if ideas from post-capitalism to global citizenship. We propose a more connected and caring community with individuals striving for purpose, meaning and wellbeing rather than their net worth. This film has participatory culture as its central tenet and proposes a future outside of capitalism. We all dream of different realities and there is no one path or one destination.
Project by Fié Neo and Alcinda Lee
Exhibited at Lethaby Gallery, London; 22 February – 11 March