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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 been part of. We believe in the importance of continued training and workshopping with our bodies, so we arranged a 8 x 3 hour sessions of movement workshop with Lim Chin Huat.
Having completed our ideation phase earlier this year, we arrived at two concepts we wish to discuss: Idleness and Ugly feelings. These topics are very pertinent to millennials, but we find that the existing conversations tend to be limited to the generation in question, and end up being fairly monolithic, excluding the voices of the older generation. We wish to bridge this divide and include perspectives from the older generation, in terms of both the ideas discussed and the process of creation. In Singapore, when artists of different generations collaborate, most place the older and more experienced artists at the helm of the artistic processes, commissioning and directing the younger artists to perform in their pieces. Our project differs in that young artists are leading the process, with the older generation offering their perspectives and guidance. In this sense, the perspectives and artistic processes of both generations are explored, giving ample opportunity to generate fresh insights into the topics of our piece(s).
There is so much to care about in the world; there is so much to do in the world. The exhaustion of constantly having to feel, to care, to think and to work is exhausting. How then can we justify the act of doing nothing when there is so much to be done? Stripped away from the negative connotations of what idleness means, I am interested in investigating the value of doing nothing in its purest form. This curiosity stems from the observation that when someone is resting / taking breaks or not doing what society deems as productive work, there is a pressure from the external (pressures to have to do something as a young person instead of ‘wasting your prime age away’) and within (‘critical feelings towards the self when we are not functional’) that something is wrong. What are we, the young people to today, trying to run away from in a place where we can’t seem to stop moving and doing? Can we allow ourselves to do nothing and not judge ourselves for it?
2) Ugly Feelings
Ugly Feelings is a term loosely borrowed from Sienne Ngai. To call a feeling “ugly” is very much an act of self-hatred and perhaps even self-mutilation. It is experiencing an emotion, a feeling, an affect, and thinking, “I hate this, I hate myself when I am like this”. It is a foreign entity that grows inside, made up of your own flesh. Feelings turn ugly when you reject it, when you think that you shouldn’t feel this way, you cannot feel this way. This particular feeling exposes parts of you that you hate, that you want to kill. Perhaps it is tied to self-worth. How then, do we sit with these ugly feelings? How do we sit with the discomfort, the disgust, and find a form of comfort. How do we soothe this side of us?