NAD--No Art Day

From:  "Alfian Bin Sa'at"
Date:  Mon Nov 6, 2000  9:01 pm


Incidentally, in the US, there is an event held each year, since 1989, 
organised by a group called VisualAids, called 'Day Without Art', in 
which museums close their doors and put up posters on AIDS, artists 
work as volunteers at AIDS centres, etc, to create public awareness of 
the epidemic. Of course it takes an enormous amount of organisation 
etc, but the end result is very dramatic. 

So here is my proposal for our very own 'No Art Day', to raise public 
consciousness that in Singapore, there is too much State presence in 
the Arts.

What is No Art Day?

It is a day self-declared by artists themselves as a kind of holiday. 
On this day, artists stop doing any kind of art work, galleries are 
closed, theatre companies shut their offices, musicians leave their 
instruments in their cases, etc.  

Is one day enough to make a difference?

The whole point of the exercise is to create some kind of symbolic 
gesture to show that artists are organised enough to mount collective 
action. Power to the people.

Is it illegal?

There is no need to apply for an entertainment licence or even 
funding, and as far as I am concerned it does not qualify as a strike, 
because none of the participating artists are direct employees of the 

What will artists do on that day?

It would be interesting to actually mount a documentation of NAD and 
perhaps hold an exhibition. Photographs can be taken of the closed 
doors of participating groups, which might carry posters informing the 
public that the group is celebrating NAD and thus not in operation. 
What would also be interesting is for participants to take photos of 
themselves on that day, and to keep a journal of what they did (I went 
for a picnic; I visited the dentist for the first time in 5 years; I 
slept the whole day; I spent time with my mother etc)--all these can 
be exhibited under a heading of 'So what did you do on No Art Day?' 

It is also interesting to explore issues of self-reflexivity--what 
does the artist do to 'resist' acts of doing any artwork? (for me, I 
would have to try to stop writing in trains, because I have a tendency 
to write poetry in moving vehicles). Is 'life' then a distinct entity 
from 'art'? What if I doodle, or sing in the bathroom, or talk about 
art with friends at S-11?. 

What day will be chosen as NAD?

This will have to be worked out once we manage to gather a group of 
interested parties and a consensus is reached. It can be a day, for 
example, commemorating one of the milestones in Singapore's 
undocumented censorship history. But it would be good to do it on a 
day when there are foreign artists in town, and to make them aware 
that they are flagrantly flouting the principles of NAD.

How can publicity be generated for NAD?

I think we can put up posters informing the public about it, and I'm 
almost sure the press will pick it up as a story. If not the local 
press, then perhaps a foreign one, which can sensationalise it all 
with a headline such as 'Singapore artists celebrate No Art Day'.

So, what is the whole purpose of the exercise?

Fun. With a clear message--'we've had enough'.

Alfian. : )

PS: Arts administrators, we love you!

PPS: This NAD is open not only to 'artists' but anyone who believes 
that each day he/she is creating art in some way or the other. Of 
course, you cannot be the type who goes, 'but I *am* Art', because 
that would mean on NAD you'll have to commit suicide.