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Undressing Room

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Participant 15: Justin
(Completed on 26th February 2017, Singapore)

1) Why do you choose to reveal your identity in this documentation?
There wasn’t any reason to conceal my identity.

2) What were your thoughts and feelings when you first read about Undressing Room?
I was struck by the honesty of Undressing Room, I thought it was artistically exciting and well-conceptualised. But I also felt scared because I felt that it was attempting to ask important yet complicated questions, such as whether we are simply a collection of tissue and other body parts, or are we something more than that; what does it mean to be “seen” in a physical form; and whether we can ever truly “see” another person.

3) Describe your experience of Undressing Room.
Wan Ching, the assistant, was very friendly and polite during her briefing with me. I was feeling slightly nervous and apprehensive throughout the day but talking to her set my mind at ease. 

The actual undressing felt intensely emotional. I experienced a range of feelings from lighthearted playfulness to nervous panic to feeling a deep sense of profound cosmic connectedness.

After the undressing, I had a short chat with Ming and looking back, I think the awareness of being filmed during the debriefing*, affected the conversation. I think I might have responded more organically if I was just chatting with him without the intention of it being documented.

* Justin Chia gave his consent to be documented in the debriefing segment. No other segments were documented.

4) What was it like for you, being a participant in Undressing Room?
Extremely meaningful. I have been excited to take part in this work ever since I managed to purchase the ticket for it and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to experience it. 

I think trying to methodically record and re-create the experience with words is a bit of a futile exercise. I remember smiling a lot because you had such a warm energy. I was also slightly nervous because I felt clumsy and awkward when I was taking off your clothes. I really like the tea, think it was a pleasant mint. Not being able to talk was a huge challenge for me at the beginning but once the feeling of trust was established, I felt like I had no need for words.

The most challenging part was to be emotionally present in the moment with Ming. It is easier for me to intellectualise my feelings and emotions to avoid confronting them. One-on-one intimacy is something that I find very difficult; there is nowhere to run. The fear of revealing your inner self to another person have always been real to me.

5) How was it for you to undress each other and touch each other’s naked skin?
I felt seen and understood. I think the act of seeing and being seen, being vulnerable, can be so frightening but also so valuable. One of my greatest fear is whether will I end up loveless and friendless if I am truly being seen for who I am. I also felt reconnected to my body. To be reminded that being alive means I get to experience joy through a physical body.

Yes, there was arousal but I don’t remember it as a particular distinct moment. Everything was part of the experience. I can be naked and still with someone because I trust that their heart is pure. Like, if you can be aroused when your heart is good, then maybe I can be aroused and my heart can be good too. In a way, I guess it’s about not demonising the feeling and for me not to feel ashamed about it.

6) What did you get out from the whole experience?
One of the best afternoons in my life. A feeling of indescribable light and joy. I had no clear expectations but it has touched me deeply in ways I could not have imagined. For me, Undressing Room is a healing balm for my existential anxiety.

7) Did you feel unsafe or threatened at any point in Undressing Room?
Nope. I trust in the project and I had a clear understanding of what I was doing.

8) Would you participate in Undressing Room again?
No. I am always filled with longing for things that makes me feel better and I don’t want to ruin the memory and disappoint myself by trying to reincarnate it in another time or space.

9) Other comments.
“Degas me.”  The quote is from John Berger’s book, ‘The Shape of a Pocket’. He talks about how Degas’s works on nudes are often criticised as ‘deformed’ or ‘ugly’ because there is this idea that the more naked a body becomes, the more closely it should conform to an idealised standard. So the meaning of “Degas me” for me is, to truly see me for who I am, to see pass the idea of conventional physical beauty and to see into the uniqueness, messiness, and ultimately the magnificence of being alive.