Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This egg will not corrupt me

Right after Tom Waits for Nobody gig I saw myself in Tanah Merah ferry terminal the next day. There I have Ong Ken Seng, Vivian, Otobong, Ka5 and Vincent waiting for me. The trip was meant for OKS project (Diaspora) with Ka5 as the video artist documenting me and OKS dialogue (it's not an interview). Detail of what Diaspora is all about will surface sooner or later so I will not talk about it so much. I had a great length of conversation with OKS (which I can't put it all here) and it felt like a long lost professional and personal friendship, brotherhood. This is partly the reason why I agree with OKS to be part of this show. I know him since …perhaps 1987.

At first I rejected Diaspora because it is part of IMF meeting but later I decided this is a good chance to know how both of us work and think concerning many issues in the arts, history and humanity. So strangely I put together my sentiments of wanting to protest against IMF & WTO and of opening up myself to work with OKS at the same time...Recently, especially after I attended and received the Life! Theatre Awards and having onistudio's first gig in Arts House, I have a couple of people who said

‘Oh zai is not very underground any more. Not like before’.
or
‘Now Zai has been sucked by the system'
or
‘Once your work is accepted by LTA your work are not edgy anymore’.

These comments made me laugh and very much entertained.In fact when I appeared with X’ho in Art Central about two years ago where I ‘acted’ as his mentor teaching him what ‘performance art’ is, I am accused of being sell-out. Sell-out to whom? I don't really know. I will write more on this issue (my favorite) concerning the so-called underground and mainstream when the time is good. But I must make a blunt statement here that nobody in the art scene here can claim that they are underground artist because there is no such scene except for some performers who don’t usually have enough audiences. Why? Just fucking boring performer that’s all and that’s how it become underground and completely unappreciated.

In the first place when I started living as an artist I never considered myself as underground. At the most I would say that I'm under-estimated.Anyway let me tell you a story, I'll make it short. Once a Korean friend came by and put up at my place for a couple of days. I know him for some years and I had stayed with him (Munmak/seoul) last September for a collaborative project. He usually made a wonderful noodle late at nite after so much drinking which he called ‘monk noodle’.

I asked him why it was called 'monk noodle'. Well, he learnt it from a monk that's why. Like many other vegetarians, monks don’t eat 'hard food' and one of the way for them to enjoy ‘instant noodle’ is to cook them soggy. They also use 1 egg, by which the purpose is to bring the soggy noodle, the soup and spice together. So my friend ask the monk :

'Why do you eat egg when you are vegetarian?'

And he replied:

‘I'm already so old. This one egg will not corrupt me.'

I can reckon to that when you are very strong in your mind and spirit you may appear once in a while doing something rather contradictory. And thatcontradiction has always been my interest because it challenges the ‘norm’. Mine and others. With reference to the Diaspora project I don’t mean that OKS is the egg and I'm the monk.

I think the ‘money’ is the egg, in our case.

I'll talk more about Riau later and to all artists who are too busy and exhausted who can't even have time to meet their own selves.

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