The final catch-up gathering was conducted online three days prior to the presentation day to see how the artists were doing. This meeting's key objective was to allow the artists to express their emotional feelings, including stress, worry, excitement, and other emotions, rather than just to only check on the technical setup specifics or working progress. Even though each team's level of stress varies, we discovered that allowing them to speak it out or listen to one another may help them realize they are not in this situation alone. Through the residence, the intimacies between the artist teams have deepened as well as those between the artists and the facilitators. For instance, Singaporean Hasyimah Harith and Indonesian Ayu Permata SARI. They clarified that as they were both raised in Islamic cultures, they have common perspectives, life experiences, and influences. Hasyimah further stated that the ongoing online conversations with the facilitators, Andrei Nikolai and Gabbi Compomanes, have given her not just an active workspace but also a place where she feels spiritually secured. While in Taiwan, Wave and Han, and the facilitator, CHANG Kang Hua, implemented their action-based research at the gay bar in Taipei to embody themselves into the drag culture.As an organizer, we believe that intimacy plays a crucial role in moving the working process along and building a possible future network between all the participants.
What they have developed through the residency and what we have learned from them
Here we are at the presentation day of Connect with SEA: online & onsite residency. These two days on the 27th and 28th June are the days that all five artists' teams will present or perform their work in progress after one month of the residency. Each artist team has a different interest to examine the issues of gender and sexuality.
The first artists of Taiwan A group, Wave YANG and CHIEN Shih-Han performed the movements and read monologues of their journey exploring the relationship between them and the objects. CHANG Kang Hwa (Taiwan), the facilitator of Taiwan A group later clarified that he went to the gay bar for the first time by the invitation of Wave and Han. The conversation and learning process between them becomes a two-way communication. Another interesting point is that this team is the only team who can meet physically. Therefore, they could have an opportunity to explore more bodily experience together.
“Queer as Folk” is the title of research outcome from the Filippino artist team, Jared Jonathan Luna and Jordi Aguillon. They first screened three videos of them dancing in three dancing styles. Their initial question is why the gender roles in Filipino folk dance are very strict and non-fluid? After discussing with TIEN Hsiao Tzu (Taiwan), facilitator, Jared and Jordi implemented various activities which helped them examine research topics from personal to social level, as well as the influences that have constructed the society. Speaking of the online working process, Hsiao Tzu clarified that because she, Jared and Jordi come from different disciplines, thus the very first few online meetings where to get to know each other. However, despite the distancing communication, Jared and Jordi responded that they feel Hsiao Tzu is also part of the team.
LI Wen Hao and LIN Yi Ching from Taiwan B group opened the second day of the presentation with their singing performance of Teresa Teng's well-known songs, including "Airport," "Freedom of Sorrow," and "To love you is good enough." Even though Wen Hao, Yi Ching, and GK (Chong Gua Khee), the facilitator from Singapore all speak the same language as Mandarin and they both know Teresa Teng before, their perspectives on Teresa Teng are totally different, perhaps due to the different political history. Therefore, an exchanging knowledge of history and politics between this artist team and the facilitator interestingly took place during the residency.
Ayu Permata SARI from Indonesia chose to show her research findings in the form of live interactive performance. Growing up in the Islamic culture in Lampung, Indonesia always doubts her about the inequality of genders. In the discussion, WANG Ning, the facilitator from Taiwan revealed that with the several first hand data that Ayu has collected, it really helps her to get a clearer view easier. By this approach, Ning opened up the google folder to throw every data into it. Normally, a choreographer as Ayu and Ning would require a studio to physically meet up and rehearse. With this distancing condition, it turns out that this Google folder has become their online studio instead.
The last artist team is Hasyimah HARITH from Singapore. At the beginning of the residency, Hasyimah came with the idea of how her body has been dominated by the national and religious state. Until the presentation day, her initial idea had been shaped together with the facilitators, Andrei Nikolai and Gabbi Compapones from the Philippines, to be more directly related to her personal bodies and stories. Hasyimah used her stomach, scars, hands, and Batik cloth to deliver her message. During the talk session, Andrei and Gabbi shared that the challenge is how to be aware that Hasyima’s situation is delicate and how to keep the space for her self-reflection without being dictating. As well as how to deliver personal sensitive issues to the audiences. In response to that, Hasyimah clarified that having a constant conversation with Gabbi and Andrei really helped reflect her interests and functioned as a remedy for her as well.
After the presentation from the five artist team and discussion, we realize that there are new various working methods that have happened from this edition of residency. The question is no longer to choose online or onsite execution. But it is to provide the possibilities working upon conditions as much as we could. What beyond that is how to develop such possibilities and nurture the factors such as human intimacy which is the crucial element for building the network across regions. The presentation day is not the end of the project. But it is the new begining of further research.
By Core Team