presents an hour's task/performance to examine the issue of cleanliness and its social, political and cultural implications in the context of Singaporean society, where aggressive pursuit of cleanliness has became a national obsession in pursuing the status of the cleanest and most efficient city in the region. Viewers' participation is essential for the performance. They are invited first to check their look carefully in the mirror, and then think of something dirty while the artist engages herself in the task of washing. The dirty thoughts are recorded on paper and soaked in detergent. Questions on the link between cleanliness and control, public space and individual rights are central to the performance.
Following text from New Criteria III, dialog with Siew Kuan
about on collaboration
.......Siew Kuan: No, I donīt thinks so. I tend to approach art from a formalist angle. If I were to try and say something it, will be when I have honed myself enough to say it in a subtle way or through some sort of satire. That kind of approach, I will adopt rather than open confrontation. That I will do only if the situation becomes so critical that it warrants an open confrontation. We really have to sit and think and weigh out what the whole thing means: how you think, how you feel at that point of time. If everything is not so politicised, then sometimes coming in to rock the boat just to make some noise - I don't know if that is really wise. Sometimes you don't have to say what you have to say with loud actions.
Amanda: I think that depends on the individual's personality
Siew Kuan: Definitely.
Amanda: Is there any difference to you, between collaborating with a woman or a man?
Siew Kuan: I don't think it's so gender specific, but you could always argue that a man has certain sensitivities
and a woman has certain sensitivities.
I know you tend to take a very feminist stance on things but working with you, I did not so much see you as
female, it was more about seeing you as a Person, and the same thing with working with Jason. It is based more
on personalities than on gender.
I want to add that this is not just a collaboration between me and Jason. The whole `New Criteria' thing is also working with Ray and Suzann.
Amanda: So you see the whole project as a collaboration.
Siew Kuan: I think it is a sort of partnership, a sharing of responsibilities. You come to it with certain inputs and I come with certain inputs and the audience comes with certain inputs. Inevitably, just like performance art or any collaboration that allows this kind of process, there is always the question of who is in complete control?
Amanda: That's right. This is precisely what performance art is; it's about challenging traditional art practices. It is basically trying to decentralise the control of power.
Amanda Heng is a practising artist. She is currently working at the Substation as a Programme Executive.