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Undressing Room

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

1) What is your view on IMDA and its classification?
I’m highly suspicious about whatever IMDA is doing. I feel they do not possess a sense of accountability and that makes me really scared. Regarding its classification system, I ignore what I don’t trust.

2) How did you feel about IMDA’s denial of classification for Undressing Room, on the grounds that it contained ‘excessive nudity’?
I question the need for censorship disguised as a classification system. I believe that people can and should be able to decide what they want to see and these measures are counterproductive to societal progress and diversity. It prevents the public from having to think about, deal with or process anything that is unconventional, transgressive or uncomfortable, in turn reinforcing and protecting closed and bigoted mindsets about morality and nudity from being challenged in any way. This reflects how we remain unable to accept that there may be events/art/perspectives that we may not necessarily agree with, but they can and should still coexist without having to invoke state power to shut them down (as long as they’re not causing substantive harm and/or threat to anyone or any group of people).

3) What was your reaction to Undressing Room being withdrawn from the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, after it was denied a classification by IMDA?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 was incredibly saddened that it was censored and delegitimised because some people thought the work was pornographic. The idea that nakedness equates to obscenity to me reflects an unthinking attitude about sex and a fear of our own bodies. I felt like the ban was an act of cultural violence. I know it’s difficult but I hope we can learn to engage with discomfort.

4) Why did you decide to take part in the revived Undressing Room, despite the controversy surrounding it?
I see no reason to decline. It spoke to me on a personal level and I was interested in experiencing it myself. I also wanted to take part because I believe in Ming Poon and his work. My original intention for wanting to participate has not changed and I think it would be a personally meaningful experience. I hope to confront the inability to be still with myself and to be present with another human being. I don’t want to intellectualise the experience; I just want to let my feelings guide the way.

5) What were your thoughts or concerns regarding your participation in Undressing Room, a work that had not been approved by IMDA?
I feel like being a gay man here has somewhat numbed me to the potentiality of violating laws. I also sometimes jaywalk. IMDA’s classification or approval does not contribute to how I think, feel, and experience a piece of work. I don’t care about a faceless bureaucrat.

6) How did IMDA’s decision affect your participation or experience of Undressing Room?
I was forced into intellectualising a part of the experience and that really annoyed me. The decision on the part of IMDA to prohibit this event as a result of the public outcry about it, forced me to have to interpret and think about this event through the lens of state censorship and moral acceptability which I do not think has anything to do with the original premise of this work.

7) Other comments.
I still think the classification was deeply unjust and they should apologise but that will never happen.