POTTY 趴地 | Reflection by ZOBO Company

6 minutes read
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Masthead Image

Quiet quitting, 躺平,摆烂…

他们说我们是没有用的年轻人

They call us useless, the wasted youth. 

In a world that demands us to be productive, that attaches value to our productivity, what does it mean to be idle? Can we be idle? What does it mean to do “nothing”? 

How do we confront the ugly feelings inside of us? This disgust, this anger, this neediness, this jealousy…  How do we articulate this disgust deep within us - how do we become human again amidst this nothingness?

我们是没有用的年轻人.

ZOBO Company could be seen as a continuation of ARTivate, the youth wing of Drama Box, where artists from the past 3 batches of ARTivate got together again. ZOBO was formed in August 2021, with the intention of continuing body and movement-based training, leading to a series of weekly workshops led by Lim Chin Huat over 2 months. After their training in 2021, the artists (Ci Xuan, Ella, Jie Yu, Vanessa, and Yi Kai) started to gravitate toward a future plan of working towards a production while continuing the fluid working dynamics of intergenerational collaboration. 

In 2022, ZOBO Company became a part of Centre 42’s Creation Residency, where members Teoh Jie Yu and Ella Wee spearheaded the process by proposing topics of interest of ‘idleness’ and ‘ugly feelings’, both very pertinent to millennials in a world plagued by productivity. Both directors took turns to lead the research and devising process,  excavating the hidden voices of young individuals that linger at the margins. The resulting visual spectacle embodies the mundanity of city life and spurs of muted explosions, with remnants of repressed souls contesting against productivity and exploitation of the working class by lying flat-faced in the office toilet. 

Lying flat-faced and doing nothing in a productive world. 

Eating our ugly feelings in a resilient world. 

Devising through written texts, sound, memories, and physical work (such as staying rooted in the same position for 20 minutes), we generated a wealth of materials and characters that we envision would reside in this world that we are building. The relevance of these subject matters to us and the people around us became more obvious as we dug deeper into it. What was most precious to us during the devising process was the freedom to explore whatever we want at our own pace, with the support from our mentors (and having the safety net to be able to flop during this process) and the trust amongst our collective members to play together during this creation journey. Sprinkled with the different experiences and insights from the lived experiences of our mentors, the world of POTTY slowly took its shape. 

From our interest in creating a movement-based piece of work, our first try at reconfiguring performing spaces, and mashing two seemingly unrelated themes together, what we eventually produced for our work-in-progress was like a field guide to our explorations. We brought our intimate group of audience through the external and inner world of what idleness and ugly feelings look like. Our work-in-progress was filled with moments of busyness, chaos, and fidgeting - there was so much happening at every point in time in contrast to the state of doing nothing. We can’t help but wonder - how did we get here?

POTTY 趴地 work-in-progress is the result of the meeting between ‘generations’, that was conceptualised by a group of young artists and kindly mentored by more experienced artists Lim Chin Huat, Neo Hai Bin, and Liew Jia Yi. As conversations happen between different generations of artists, we open up space for discussion and exploration, collapsing generational divides. During our intimate work-in-progress in October 2022, it was accompanied by a post-show sharing and dialogue with invited artists from the local creative industry. Valuable feedback and conversations with a range of artists of different generations were shared together in the space, on different ideas and ideals of what doing nothing means to each of us and what they saw. One of the meaningful takeaways from our residency with C42 was the indispensable documentation and archival process, which provided us a space to reflect and consolidate the mode of intergenerational collaboration, and deepened our artistic inquiry. This process has allowed us to relearn what it means and look like for our generation to do nothing slowly, clarifying what we, as a young collective, ultimately wish to converse with the different generations of people. It has also nudged us to rethink what it means to ‘break the conventions’ in the arts, and the intention behind them, as we trudge forward. 

Following our work-in-progress in 2022, ZOBO Company has been taking the time to let the few months of exploration settle in us, (idly) reflecting, rethinking, and reworking on POTTY 趴地. We are looking forward to presenting a full-length piece of work in 2023/24, with an exploration focused mainly on what it means to do nothing or be idle against the world of capitalism and productivity. 


under c42

Potty 趴地 by ZOBO Company
Our arts collective ZOBO Company is made up of a group of young artists (Ella Wee, Teoh Jieyu, Vanessa Poh, Wang Ying Bei, Chng Yikai, Lim Ci Xuan) who are interested in having conversations about social issues with movement, visuals and non-conventional staging. The collective came together in Sept 2021 for the first phase of this joint project, marking a beginning of another journey after the graduation of ARTivate Batch 3, a three year youth training program by Drama Box, which most of our members have b
12 May 2023