Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021

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.

Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021, Fié Neo
Limits, 2021, Fié Neo

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.

In Search of Hope

What hope can you find when everything is fucked?

This is a film project that charts my journey in search of hope during COVID-19.

At the end of February 2020, I left France after a year of learning with climate activists and civic groups, overwhelmed with pessimism and despair. I was prepared to quit the system and find an eco-village to spend the rest of my days before one big disaster wipes us all out.

Prior to that, I spent years researching systems change and regeneration (Theory U, Sacred Economy, post-capitalism, UBI etc), which led me to switch from fashion to socially engaged arts practice and then move from the UK to France (a year of work at an NGO). At the end of the year, I accepted our impending doom and genuinely believed that the only way forward out of this mess is if we all quit cities to live in eco-villages. 

I left for North America in search of innovative practices. It was my last bit of hope in finding something innovative that we can do in cities within this system. And then COVID hit. I ended up staying in Canada a lot longer than expected amidst a whole lot of uncertainty and flight cancellations. I volunteered at people’s homes, was almost homeless at points, worked on organic farms, learned about permaculture, regenerative and restorative agriculture, change networks, co-ops, social innovation networks and various change making initiatives. In July I started a podcast documenting all these interesting conversations with people I met. This is an experimental film with edited snippets of the podcast recordings along with my narrative of this journey. 

It is about this crazy journey during COVID-19, about my search for hope but more importantly, about all these change making initiatives and actions people are taking all over the world. This is a call for action, but also an offering of various responses to our collective search for hope. This film is meant to inspire, empower and rejuvenate all those who care and to collectively take action. 

Film Festivals:

Ecocine – Festival Internacional de Cinema Ambiental e Direitos [Offical Selection]

https://ecocine.eco.br

SEA X SEA: Southeast Asia X Seattle Film Festival [Offical Selection]

Film International Storical & Short Film Festival [Offical Selection]

Zetimpuls Film Festival (Vienna, Austria)

The Lift-Off Sessions [Offical Selection]

First-Time Filmmaker Sessions [Offical Selection]

Wayfinding

Commissioned short film for Social Innovation Exchange.

‘Wayfinding’ is a response to the sounds of chaos offered by participants of Tuning 1 during Covid-19 and reflects the journey of sense making as we find our way through this chaos. This short film was built upon the gifts of fellow artists in this residency as well as SIX’s JoSoKe in the form of audio recordings and video snippets of our lives across continents.


There were two wearable art pieces worn during the performance that weaved through the film. One was a piece I made entirely out of discarded zips and the other a headpiece made in 2015 as a critique of how everyone seemed to be cocooned in social media. I found that  ironic yet relevant now as it is a headpiece we cannot necessarily take off even if we want to. Both wearable art pieces become metaphorical representations of our internal and external struggles as we collectively way find towards hopeful futures. 


Below are links to videos of the wearable art pieces:
Emancipation (Zip piece)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaMZRccVPbA&list=PL5Sx3YtkLxpdmeeZllzoGh6MJVMrSqvDj&index=6
Our Future X Technology (Cocooned in Social Media) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHdyUF3Lzoo&list=PL5Sx3YtkLxpdmeeZllzoGh6MJVMrSqvDj&index=10 10