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Undressing Room

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Participant 14: Jasmin Wong
(Completed on 12th March 2017, Singapore)

1) Why do you choose to reveal your identity in this documentation?
I don’t feel like there is a need to hide behind anonymity for a piece of a work that I believe in. In addition, with an name to the documentation, it makes the work more credible.

2) What were your thoughts and feelings when you first read about Undressing Room?
I generally enjoy stage pieces that blur the line between spectator and actor, especially on a one-to-one basis. In addition, the ideas that Undressing Room aims to explore – how we see sexuality, our bodies, sex etc – are topics that intrigue me greatly in a time where bodies/sex/sexuality are still under high scrutiny from self and others. Purchasing the ticket was also an act and commitment to push myself to see how far I’m capable of connecting with another individual, bare and truthful.

So I was intrigued and excited, for reasons above-stated. I also felt very inspired that an artist would put himself out there – vulnerable – to explore such an experience. I was also looking forward to see how this experience could reaffirm or alter how I view the above-mentioned topics, and thereby how I experience them, and write them.

3) Describe your experience of Undressing Room.
I was a little apprehensive walking into the first room – only because I did not know what to expect. I appreciated that the blinds were drawn after I came into the room – does give me some privacy to prime my mind for the experience. The briefing was direct, clear and comforting (knowing that I had full control of the experience in the second room).

Entering the second room brought some surprise as well as calm. The set up of the room was beautiful – reminded me a lot of the minimalist Japanese homes. Being greeted by the smile that Ming had on his face was also comforting. The moment shared with Ming, just sitting, breathing, and having eye contact, allowed me to be present in the moment, and also be primed into the energy that he brought to the space, and thereby matching it. I felt some sort of nervousness from him initially, however, that was gone pretty quickly as we were breathing.

The experience with the tea was interesting (it was nice tea). I was mostly taking the cue from Ming – about when to take the next sips, etc. However, I did too want to experience watching him in the moment of sipping his tea – trying to take in tiny details of that motion.

The gentleness and care taken from seeking consent to taking off of clothes made the experience safe and comfortable. Ming paid a lot of attention to only have the fabric of my clothes touching my skin (and not his skin on mine) while he was taking off my clothes. I tried to do the same with him, but it felt rather unnatural for me to purposefully place fabric in between skin, especially when some articles took longer/more effort to remove.

Ming was open and inviting throughout the whole process. What I found particularly considerate was when he took off my bra. He chose to do so from the back, and remained standing behind me – allowing me to face him only when I was ready.

When we were in the nude, Ming surveyed my body in a manner filled with curiosity, as well as connection. It felt as if he wanted to take in every detail. That gave me the cue to do that same. The moment of being looked at in that manner was refreshing, calming, and liberating.

Speaking with Ming in the third room wrapped up the experience very nicely. He was as open and kind in the way his shared his ideas, thoughts and feelings. He was also listening very keenly to what I had to say. The entire experience was indeed very revitalizing, and it made me realize how little we connect with people in such vulnerable, honest, and giving ways.

4) What was it like for you, being a participant in Undressing Room?
Magical. Calming. Liberating. Comforting. The most challenging part was figuring out the momentum when I was in the second room: who starts first, how, etc. But Ming took the lead, and then it felt like we just flowed.

5) How was it for you to undress each other and touch each other’s naked skin?
It was liberating and comforting. I fully trusted Ming in that moment and did not feel like I needed to hide anything. I felt safe, content, happy and open. My mind was mostly blank (or I tried to not have too many thoughts then – wanted to be present in the space), but when I did have thoughts, they came before the touching began. Because once again, I did not know who was going to start first etc. But as Ming took the step to rest his hand on my collar bone, I took the cue, cleared my mind, and focused on just connecting with him. The physical contact was comforting, and made me even more curious about Ming as a person (especially so when I notice some scars on his body).

As Ming slid the fabric of clothes slowly and carefully down my skin (while removing), it made me feel like there was an attempt to connect, even through the fabric. The physical sensation of that slow, intentional movement was also very calming. It somehow made me feel like my physical body was being cared for and paid attention to in that space.

Touching the naked skin was the pinnacle of the connection I felt with Ming. There was a lot of giving in that space – giving up of boundaries and vulnerabilities and fear. And I felt that even in the way Ming rested his face in my palm and I touched his face. It’s such a simple gesture, but it revealed so much about the states of mind shared in the moment/space. As Ming proceeded to analyze a scar on my left knee (I was surprised he noticed!), I then noticed a scar on the back of his head and thought to myself, ‘how is it that I did not notice that before’. It made me more focused in being in the moment. As we proceeded to lay with each other on the mat, I felt like I wanted to know every inch of Ming – because the body holds so many stories untold. I felt like while I felt comforted in the moment, I was also able to provide comfort as Ming rested his head on my lap. It was a beautiful moment of connection for me.

There was no arousal on both our parts. Which was the beautiful thing – because it goes to show that physical connection can go beyond sex, does not have to be about sex. It can just be about two individuals being with each other in space.

6) What did you get out from the whole experience?  
I am reminded: to be more present with people. To be more aware about the tiny details about people – down to the tiniest of emotions shown on faces. To be gentle when approaching the stories (physical, mental, emotional) of others – because it takes a lot of bravery (in vulnerability) for others to take the step to open up. To give as much as one receives (or even more) – because that’s how connection happens.

There are some specific moments that stayed with me:
– When I took Ming’s ear-stud out, and I caught a glimpse of a smile on his face. That reassured me that he was comfortable (perhaps even felt good?), and encouraged me to want to make the experience good for him as well.
– When Ming was gentle and careful in sliding the clothes off and against my skin.
– When we were simply resting on the ground, bodies entwined, and breathing in sync.
– When Ming spoke about bravery in vulnerability and living art and life in that same manner. It truly resonated with me (perhaps even serendipitous) because I have been thinking, reading, feeling, discussing and experiencing a lot of that that week – and that experience and sharing from Ming made me feel even more connected to him.

I did not know what to expect from this performance, to be honest. And I did not want to set up something in my head – it will only ruin the experience. But never did I think that I would come out of it feeling so connected to a stranger, and feeling revitalized in myself. For me, Undressing Room was the physical representation and act of how I am aiming to lead my life – vulnerable, brave, honest, authentic, present.

7) Did you feel unsafe or threatened at any point in Undressing Room?
Not at all. Ming’s energy was inviting, open, and calming.

8) Would you participate in Undressing Room again?
Yes, I would definitely be interested. Because I would love to build upon the connection that has been established, and am also curious to examine if and how it changes over time, space, or even in a different environment.

9) Other comments.
Thank you so much Ming for doing this on your own funding and accord. I appreciate the thought that you have put into this entire process, and the authenticity you bring into the space and experience.