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Undressing Room

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Participant 12: Anonymous
(Completed on 8th February 2017, Singapore)

1) Why do you choose to be anonymous in this documentation?
For fear of how my parents and friends would view me if they had knew that I had participated in something like Undressing Room. Although I am not ashamed of participating in something like this, I would still have to consider things from my parents’ viewpoint.

2) What were your thoughts and feelings when you first read about Undressing Room?
When I had first read about Undressing Room, I was extremely apprehensive because the whole idea of letting a stranger see me naked is something that I am very uncomfortable with. However, this nakedness requires the performance by two parties, and if I am to feel awkward, perhaps the performer himself would feel awkward too. Deciding to step out of my comfort zone (perhaps for way too much), I decided to try it out. 

I had purchased a ticket to Undressing Room in the first place because of its innovation and creativity. Such act is rarely, perhaps never seen before in Singapore, and the fact that it had gotten approval to be staged in M1SFF* surprised me, and had thus propelled me to purchase a ticket to try it out for myself.

*M1SFF: M1 Singapore Fringe Festival

3) Describe your experience of Undressing Room.
I was really anxious when I had first stepped into the first room, but the assistant, Wan Ching, had helped to ease the anxiety, by making small talks that relieved the mind of what was to be done in a while. Wan Ching had also done a good job explaining on the guidelines that protect the interest of both parties, and the briefing had got me better prepared for what was to come.

In the second room, I really appreciate the simple ritual that had taken place before the undressing process. The drinking of the tea helped to ease me into the whole environment, rather than to jump straight into undressing the artist and myself. Moreover, Ming Poon helped in creating a safe environment, where everything had taken place at my pace, rather than his pace. I was given autonomy of how fast or slow I want the process to be, and I had never felt rushed in the process. Sensitive to my comfort/discomfort, Ming Poon proceeded at my pace, and made sure to only proceed when he felt that I was comfortable with him. Other than my own anxiety at being naked in front of a stranger, the performance had felt safe and gentle.

In the third room, the candid discussion that had taken place after both parties had seen each other naked bodies was… interesting. There was that comfort, as well as discomfort, that exist, for there was a reversal of procedures of sort; I was now talking to this man after we had seen each other’s naked bodies. However, there was also that understated trust, now that we had seen each other’s bodies, and it was comfortable to discuss about the whole experience with Ming Poon.

4) What was it like for you, being a participant in Undressing Room?
As a participant, I was very anxious of the whole work, having been very private of my own body. However, I had decided to go through with the whole performance, having decided to purchase the ticket from Sistic* in the first place. However, in this work, I was an active, rather than a passive participant, for I was the one who had decided the pace of everything, and the artist was just going through with my pace.

The most challenging part of the work has got to be standing, undressed, in front of the artist. Having struggled with my body size/disliking my body because of the way it is shaped, I felt really uncomfortable showing this body to the artist. It was like showing a private, and also ugly side of myself to the artist, and I didn’t like it.

*Sistic: a ticketing service

5) How was it for you to undress each other and touch each other’s naked skin?
The main thought that had struck me when I was in the room was that I was ashamed of my own body. I felt ashamed at having to show my body to a stranger (who had a nice body), and it was a little discomforting. This feeling had probably hindered my interaction with the artist, for while there had been times when I had wanted to explore the body further, I was embarrassed to do so, and stopped at mere surface level. Moreover, I do not feel comfortable with bodies in general, and thus had difficulty touching the artist’s body.

Having never touched another’s body before, the touching of the artist’s body was something intimate that I really appreciate. Skin on skin, it was as though intimacy and connection were exchanged in the contact. The intimacy derived warmed my heart and made me craved for more, to put it simply. There was no arousal that I remembered or noticed.

6) What did you get out from the whole experience?
On a more personal and superficial level, the main takeaway that I had was that I liked the feeling of being held. As much as I say I dislike touch/intimacy, I knew this to be not true, for in this skin to skin contact, I felt heartened, and empowered.  Perhaps, one day, I could find someone who would be willing to hold me, whereby we would envelope each other in comfort and warmth.

Undressing Room would hold much significance to me, for I had jumped from someone who had never changed in front of my friends, to undressing in front of a stranger. Undressing Room had shown me how brave I am; I want to laugh at what I had just written, but I know for a fact that it is true too, for not many would be brave enough to reveal their bodies to a stranger.

7) Did you feel unsafe or threatened at any point in Undressing Room?
No. In his own ways, the artist had created a safe space for this interaction, where intimacy could take place. At no point do I feel unsafe or threatened; in fact the environment had felt like a safe blanket during the whole act.

8) Would you participate in Undressing Room again?
Yes and no. Yes because I would wish to challenge myself to be more daring and be more intimate, rather than to impose a limit on myself. I am saying a ‘no’ just because I am not confident enough to give a definite yes when such opportunity arises.

9) Other comments.
I’m glad to have been one of the lucky few to have taken this step, and thank you, Ming Poon, for allowing the exploration of bodies, something that I had never been able to do so before. Thank you for sharing this intimate space with me.