From 2017 - 2019, I was invited by Singapore-based theatre company, Dramabox and Artswok Collaborative to join a core group of artists (Angie Seah, Shirley Soh, Han Xue Mei and Jasmine Ng) to work in the neighborhoods of Chong Pang and Telok Blangah in Singapore.
The project's goal is to build communities where individuals and families are supported in making informed decisions about end-of-life plans. In order to achieve this new objective, the artistic team's approach shifted towards a community-based, arts-driven approach, which we hope will strengthen social ties and motivate sustainable involvement among community members. Developing community advocates has been a crucial aspect of the project. As such, there were efforts to recruit volunteers from within the communities. The team also devoted efforts to training staff of our community collaborators on how to employ artistic or creative approaches for community engagement on end-of-life related topics, including developing resources for their use.
Over three years, we initiated a series of invitations, activities, collaborations with local residents and partners. As a result of the interactions, we created numerous artworks, performances and artwork tours in public space, often co-creating these works with the residents in the neighborhoods and facilitating conversations about death and what a life well-lived means.
In Chong Pang, I facilitated photography workshops for local residents and also made portraits of them. These images were presented in the form of life-sized murals alongside installations of multi- images created by the senior residents, on the walls of the public housing estate.
In Telok Blangah, we conducted our workshops for residents in the void deck of Block 7, creating temporary gatherings in public space. I invited the residents to reflect upon the idea of restoring in their lives and environments. What emerged from this process, was a myriad of participatory artworks, seeking to make visible the diverse assets in the community. Collectively, the artists and residents explore reframing our views on the problems of old age. Is it possible to “fix” what’s broken? How do we acknowledge the equal status and value of those who are the least welcome?
Read more about the project here.
Loo Zihan for Arts Equator
Selected documentation of installation at Chong Pang
Selected documentation of installation at Telok Blangah