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Undressing Room

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Participant 11: Kenneth Chia
(Completed on 3rd April 2017, Singapore)

1) What is your view on IMDA and its classification?
The IMDA is in a difficult position, caught between supporting artists in tandem with the larger public expectations and as an arm of the government. This three way relationship has always been tenuous, here and elsewhere. But it does not excuse the knee-jerk reactions it is incredibly prone to. It must have the confidence and willingness to stand up for artistic merit and a genuine curiosity to understand a work intimately before making decisions. They have yet to demonstrate this. I see the IMDA playing a huge role in the deliberate overregulation of personal consumption of art/entertainment.

IMDA’s classification is not important at all to me.

2) How did you feel about IMDA’s denial of classification for Undressing Room, on the grounds that it contained ‘excessive nudity’?
I would simply make it an advisory with a clear disclosure that it might involve full nudity, depending on the participant. Participants should be free to decide for themselves. I would also require strict documentation of consent forms. The reason of “excessive nudity” is lazy and does not consider the context and framework, in which the piece attempts to work within, along with its objectives. There is nothing wrong with engaging nudity in performance. If any age advisory should be provided, it should be on the basis that a work like this demands a degree of maturity from its participant to understand for his/herself what it sets out to do (and calibrate expectations), regardless of nude or not.

3) What was your reaction to Undressing Room being withdrawn from the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, after it was denied a classification by IMDA?
I felt that the work was unfairly and prematurely judged by people who were ill-equipped to understand the aims/nature of the performance. The withdrawal of the work was extremely disappointing for various reasons – the first being that it was religiously-motivated and stemming from a very small segment of Singaporean society, the second being the knee jerk reaction from IMDA which reminded us of how far we have to go. It is ok to not agree with the approach or a piece of work, but it is not ok to impose that expectation on those who have an interest towards participating in it. Overall I’m thankful this performance was brought back on its own terms.

4) Why did you decide to take part in the revived Undressing Room, despite the controversy surrounding it?
The only important thought was to enter with an open mind, with no expectation. As mentioned above, the IMDA’s approval/rating of a performance has no impact on whether I choose/choose not to attend it.

5) What were your thoughts or concerns regarding your participation in Undressing Room, a work that had not been approved by IMDA?
The IMDA has treated the work unfairly, and did not give it due consideration. This is disappointing. Undressing Room was a wonderful meditative experience that had much potential to break down the physical barriers we put between each other daily.

6) How did IMDA’s decision affect your participation or experience of Undressing Room?
It’s made me more frustrated at the way arts is regulated in Singapore – works are often at the mercy of an undiscerning/misinformed/ignorant minority. Other than that, it has not impacted my own participation.

7) Other comments.
N.A.