Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Squatting Knowledges and my latest work, The Third Life

On 11 October at the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA), I spoke and shared at an art forum titled, 'Squatting Knowledges: Failure/s in a Constellation and as a Tribunal'.  

Organised by Manila-based Disc Lab, the event was also where I shared my latest work, 'The Third Life', for the first and last time.

More on the event:

For the second iteration of Squatting Knowledges, Manila-based DiscLab | Research and Criticism socializes their inquiry on failure as a shared horizon and as a site of reflexivity among precarious art and cultural workers within the provisional context and coordinates of the so-called “international” that is Singapore.

As failure is normalized and adorned as a necessary catalyst of production, DiscLab refetishizes failure as a rhizome for discussion in order to subvert the politeness towards it, to render it as a material condition, and as a radical ground for solidarity and kinship. The overdetermined communication channels of institutions and the inherent contingency of independent and non-aligned initiatives to institutions have calcified the articulation of failure—foreclosing its transference to larger socioeconomic and political issues or discursive fields. DiscLab responds to this situation by employing a common organizational strategy and uses it as surrogate site to extract failure from its comfortable habitus.

In "Failure/s in a constellation and as a tribunal", DiscLab takes the role of insufficient interlocutors who speculate on the activity of failures when they intermingle and on the function of failures when they become a tribunal. The one-day programme is composed of three streams of conversations/discussions with cultural producers attached to the place called Singapore. DiscLab plays with the tripartite format of job interview to engage with the participants. This method allows multiple disclosures: The interview commences with a professional declaration of past experiences and background, and culminates with an intimate sharing of personal stories. Here, failures are prolonged, streamlined and contextualized in a spectrum. The interview format also provides an opportunity to ask sensitive, sensationalizing, and intrusive questions about failure under the guise of requirements for employment/hiring process. The program concludes with a roundtable discussion where participants and DiscLab moderators reflect on their performative gestures, outburst, and other modes of activating their failures.

Participants: Seelan Palay and Dr. Elmo Gonzaga, Post-Museum, and DiscLab Research and Editorial Collective

A modest publication titled FAILURES (October-November 2014) gathers reflections and positions on failure. Contributors include Elaine Ho/HomeShop, Kevser Guler, Donna Miranda, Alia Swastika, Cian Dayrit, Javier Toscano/Laboratorio 060, Lourdes Morales, Buen Calubayan, C&G (Clara Cheung and Gum Cheung), VILE/RATS (Richard Streitmatter-Tran and Le Tuong Vi)

Squatting Knowledges at CCA is made possible by the generous support of Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation, Inc. and Post-Museum.

This event is part of More than [show] business - Post-PopUp at CCA. The project More than [show] business - Post-PopUp at CCA is a collaborative effort between Post-Museum and CCA, led by curators Anca Rujoiu and Vera Mey, with the additional support of the National Arts Council (NAC).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Philippines seizes 15 paintings from Marcos family

Associated Press, October 01 2014

The Philippine government has seized 15 paintings from the former home of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, part of efforts to recover 156 artworks — including ones by Van Gogh, Monet and Michelangelo — that are part of his alleged ill-gotten wealth, an official said Wednesday.

The paintings were recovered Tuesday from Marcos' old residence in San Juan city in metropolitan Manila, said the head of the agency tasked to recover wealth amassed by Marcos during his 20-year rule.

Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, said court sheriffs also tried to seize paintings from a condominium belonging to Marcos' widow, Imelda. He said the sheriffs were kept waiting outside for an hour, and when they entered they saw her crying and found only empty walls and hooks that once held paintings.

Bautista said sheriffs backed by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation also went to Imelda Marcos' congressional office and to the Marcos family's ancestral home in northern Ilocos Norte province. He said he is awaiting their reports.

The good government commission obtained an anti-graft court order this week imposing a "writ of attachment" on the 156 paintings in connection with a civil suit seeking to recover the Marcos wealth, which has been estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

Bautista said the seizure of the paintings was necessary before they "disappear or are hidden away." They were taken to the central bank for safekeeping.

He said his agency will seek help from international auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's to determine the paintings' authenticity.

Bautista said the trial of the civil suit will continue until the court decides who should own the paintings.

"The position of the government is this is part of ill-gotten wealth and should be returned to the government and the people," he said, citing a Supreme Court decision. The 2003 ruling said the Marcoses' wealth in excess of their total legal income of around $304,000 from 1965 to 1986 was presumed to be ill-gotten.

Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 without admitting any wrongdoing during his presidency.

Bautista said earlier this year that Philippine authorities have recovered more than $4 billion of an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion amassed by the Marcoses. That includes $712 million from Marcos' secret Swiss bank accounts, he said.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Singapore: We must get behind our activists and alternative newsites

Singapore Democrats

As the next election draws nearer, government-controlled sources of information will increasingly push out commentary praising the PAP regardless of the difficulties and frustration that Singaporeans face.

But while this may have worked well for the ruling party in years past, circumstances have altered considerably with the expansion of the Internet.

No longer is it easy for the PAP to play fast and loose with the facts as bloggers, with the ability to retrieve information at a moment's notice, are able to call out the authorities' bluster and disingenuity.

This is why, if Singapore is going to mature into a thinking society where we are able to distinguish between news and propaganda, we must value our activists.

Alternative newsites such the Temasek Review Emeritus (which has recently called for financial support), The Real Singapore, The Online Citizen, Redwire Times, etc., as well as the myriad of blogs provide an invaluable service in our effort to develop a democracy.

Coupled with a fast-developing civil society sector where activists, once non-existent, are now making themselves heard on a variety of issues, the scene is set for citizens to take on a more meaningful role in shaping public policy.

This is the reason the SDP fought for democracy and the rights of our fellow Singaporeans.

Not only did we believe (and still do) that freedom, in and of itself, is worth defending, but we also knew that without our political rights, we could not fight for our social and economic interests – interests like curbing the excessively liberal immigration policy or protesting against the retention of our CPF money.

The exercise of our fundamental rights of speech, assemble and association – exemplified by the gatherings at Hong Lim Park organised by our activists – have enabled the blogosphere to keep the people informed of the damage done by PAP's policies.

If Singapore is going to develop into a truly First World society, a robust civil society, of which the Internet community plays an integral part, is indispensable.

PM Lee Hsien Loong recently disparaged the Internet as a medium that has “led to divisions and all kinds of different ideas being able to take root and germinate.”

It is unfortunate that the leader of a government that professes to champion a knowledge-based economy cannot see that it is “all kinds of ideas” that has led to progress and the advancement of human civilisation.

Like everything else, modern communication tools can be a force for good or it can be abused to degrade humanity. It does not portend well for our nation that the PAP cannot inspire our people to achieve great things and aspire to noble ends.

But we must not despair. We must, instead, encourage “all kinds of ideas” to be articulated and have faith in our people that the good ones will be cultivated and the bad ones discarded.

This means supporting the endeavours of our online community and civil society.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BANNED: Tan Pin Pin's film 'To Singapore, With Love' not to be shown in public

The Media Development Authority (MDA) says the film is not allowed for all ratings as contents undermine national security. Source: CNA

SINGAPORE: The Media Development Authority of Singapore on Wednesday (Sep 10) decided that local film director Tan Pin Pin's work To Singapore, With Love will be classified as "Not Allowed for All Ratings".

In its statement on Wednesday (Sep 10), MDA said it had assessed the contents of the film, and decided that it undermined national security. It added that legitimate actions taken by security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.

"The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore," the MDA stated. "A number of these self-professed 'exiles' were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM)."

The documentary depicted different generations of Singaporean political exiles who have not been able to come home. Some have not returned for 50 years. Ms Tan sought to show how these exiles have lived their lives away and how they still viewed Singapore, according to the film's website.

Under the Film Classification Guidelines, films that are assessed to undermine national security will be given an NAR rating. This means the film is not for exhibition or distribution in Singapore.


Commenting on MDA's ruling, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said he had read the reasons for the decision and "agree and support their assessment".

"The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they left Singapore and claimed that they were unfairly denied their right to return to Singapore," said Dr Yaacob.

"The truth of the matter was that many of them, by their own admission, were members or supporters of the Communist Party of Malaya which sought to overthrow the legitimate elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia through armed struggle and subversion, and replace them with a communist regime," he added.

The minister said it is "not surprising" that ex-CPM members and sympathisers wish now to give their own accounts of historical episodes they were involved in.

"But individuals who have chosen to leave and remain outside Singapore, and refused to account for their past actions, should not enjoy a public platform to purvey distorted and untruthful accounts to mislead the public, absolve themselves or deny their past actions," Dr Yaacob stated.

For ex-CPM members and supporters who have returned to Singapore, acknowledge their actions and renounced Communism and violence, they and their families continued to live here and contribute to building Singapore, he added.

- CNA/kk

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Leo Tolstoy!

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back."

Friday, August 8, 2014

Engkau Laksana Bulan

My idol P. Ramlee performing the song 'Engkau Laksana Bulan' from his first directed film, 'Penarek Beca'.