When did your interest in the arts first begin?
Growing up, I always felt like I was stuck in a rigid education system. In secondary school, even though I enjoyed science, I was always asked to follow specific methods in order to get the right answers.
Instead, I liked to try different methods of working and play around with the grey areas, which was why I gravitated towards art. I’m now doing my Masters in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art in London.
Tell us more about your current body of work and how it’s evolved over the years.
I started painting in secondary school, a common point of entry for artists in Singapore. Then, I moved on to installations, and now my work mainly consists of performance art as I find that performance enables me to embody life experiences to the fullest and play around with my sense of identity.
I’m currently working on a performance piece that involves sharing the love of food. The idea came about as I was exploring the Singaporean identity, and I found that food is what brings us together as a nation. Even looking at the food that we eat, we can trace its history back to entire immigration patterns and historical events.
In this project, I cook Singaporean dishes for strangers and have personal conversations with them, then I journal the experience into a recipe book. I’ll also exchange my recipes for one from their own culture. The intimate one-on-one experience is performance art in itself, and is one that I hope to bring to Singapore one day as it’s not widely explored here yet.
After living in London for the past few years, how do you feel coming back to Singapore?
It actually feels quite displacing and weird to be back, even if it’s just for a visit. The architectural development in Singapore is so rapid and things have changed so much since I last visited two years ago; malls are coming and going so quickly—I live in the West, and JCube is gone! (laughs)
At the same time, London and Singapore are similar in many ways such as racial diversity, and they’re both very boring cities to live in for broke students like me (laughs).
What’s the story behind the moth tattoo one your forearm?
This tattoo by @jessica_penfold was inspired by my grandfather who passed away 10 years ago.
I remember feeling lost when I was 16 or 17 as my parents were not supportive of my decision to pursue art. It was at that time that I encountered a moth with a broken wing. I was curious about its symbolism and found that in traditional Chinese folk culture, the spirits of ancestors return in the form of moths and butterflies to check on their family.
It might have been a coincidence, but I’d like to believe that my grandfather is still watching over me.