Select Page

Undressing Room

← Previous

Next →

Participant 7: Shawn Chua
(Completed on 25th February 2017, Singapore)

1) What is your view on IMDA and its classification?
To be honest, in spite of my objections to the regulatory frameworks of IMDA, specifically how it is run and the obscurity of whose interests it represents, I also find that in some cases, artists may also very strategically use IMDA almost as a medium/tool/collaborator in dramaturging the work and raising the stakes of particular questions or issues. This is probably a fatalistic response, a kind of weapon of the weak, but it isn’t necessarily a pessimistic one. Its classification is irrelevant to me.

2) How did you feel about IMDA’s denial of classification for Undressing Room, on the grounds that it contained ‘excessive nudity’?
It is quite clear what the limitations are when such broad strokes are applied in current regulations. It isn’t a call for more nuance or sophisticated ‘regulation’ but a more engaged conversation about the context is necessary, both for the festival and for the public.

3) What was your reaction to Undressing Room being withdrawn from the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, after it was denied a classification by IMDA?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 disappointed, but I was also relieved the work itself was not altered (for example, stripping down to the underwear). That would be very ironic, and it’d seem to defeat the very purpose of the work. I was annoyed that the whole conversation around the work became hijacked by the ‘controversy’ and moral panics that were being triggered, by people who have no intention to go for the work, or even have a clear idea about what the work was trying to do. There was a lot of paranoia about what the work might do, which seemed to occlude the entire ethos of the work itself.

4) Why did you decide to take part in the revived Undressing Room, despite the controversy surrounding it?
It felt like the stakes of the work (and the festival) were raised, especially after all the controversy. Part of me felt determined all the more to experience the work, and perhaps to offer a different narrative of what it was (or could’ve been). I was ambivalent about the documentation, but in a climate where the private and public is becoming so entangled, I felt an obligation to participate in this ‘public’ discourse. I’m really keeping myself open to the experience, and hoping perhaps to be surprised by what unfolds.

5) What were your thoughts or concerns regarding your participation in Undressing Room, a work that had not been approved by IMDA?
I wasn’t so much worried about being implicated in legal violations (at least as a participant), but I did feel the stakes of my participation was raised, it became a kind of performance, a kind of statement. The approval or not of IMDA is quite arbitrary to my own experience of the work.

6) How did IMDA’s decision affect your participation or experience of Undressing Room
I’ve answered this previously, when speaking of the raised stakes of participation. The public outcry itself didn’t affect me because most of this outcry had little to do with the work itself, but the moral panics in which it triggered. What people imagined the work may be, most of whom don’t even know what the work is about.

7) Other comments.
I wonder how much the controversy has hijacked the work. What would the experience have been like without the stigmata of trauma caused by the whole fiasco. What potentiality of the work has been denied by the very logics of controversy?