Hello dear human beings. Greetings from the strange floating world of post-project purgatory.
In which I count the days since Mandi Bunga happened (2 weeks!), and wonder when it’s no longer acceptable to feel disoriented and just sorta… lame and stupid. I’m off the turbo charged art-making hamster wheel and having a hard time adjusting to the speed of everyday life. This always happens. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it still frustrates the hell out of me. The bigger the project, the longer the lag. I can’t get anything done, but I can’t rest either. My energy’s completely depleted, but my mind’s running around like a rat on speed.
Ahhhhhhhh. Dammit. Onwards. Onwards through the fug and the fog.
I’m working on an epic blog about Mandi Bunga, but I honestly don’t know how long it’s going to take. In the meantime, I’m going to share the zine I drew for the project.
Can’t see the reader above? Try here. You’ll also see options to download as PDF.
I’ve never made a zine before. It turned out to be a strange artist statement/mind-map/activity sheet mash-up. I finished penciling the night before leaving for Singapore and inked it in my hotel room in a 36-hour caffeine-fueled marathon that killed my eyes. I wouldn’t recommend this as standard practice. If you love to make stuff and want to do it for the rest of your life, as much as possible please try to do it with proper posture and good light.
I’m proud of this little zine. It almost didn’t get made because I thought it’d be one of those bonus art things, you know, nice to do if I had the time (and I never have the time, being a terrible last minute crammer and perfectionist), but unnecessary. Yet the moment I held it in my hands, all fresh from the printer, I knew it was really important.
In all its tactile hand-drawnness, it’s something that can only fully be experienced as a zine, as a thing you can touch and pass from person to person. No amount of Facebooking, blogging or Instagramming could have extended the aesthetics and ideas of Mandi Bunga in the same way. I suspect I did it also to get out of answering ‘what’s your work about?’; I could just hand the zine to any critic, journalist, auntie, uncle or little kid and say: here. It’s all here.
The original size for this is A2, folded into an 8-page booklet, with a poster on the other side. But you can print it in A3 and get a cute pocket version, like this:
If your grubby little hands yearn to fondle this zine in the flesh, here are hi-res files (click to embiggen) you can print out:
Poster on the back:
This is the text:
Mandi Bunga is a project I dreamt up in 2012. It came from my experiences taking part in Bersih2.0 and 3.0, two momentous street rallies calling for free and fair elections in Malaysia. Bersih means ‘clean’; yellow is the colour adopted by the movement.
This project has nothing to do with Bersih. I can’t deny that Biennale has allowed me to realize my dream; that I am here at the pleasure of the Singaporean goverment, and financed by the taxes of its citizens. To export my politics as if they are consumer goods would be both stupid and meaningless.
Yet it has everything to do with Bersih — without the experience of being part of a huge movement, and struggling not to lose myself in its flaws and contradictions, I would never have arrived at the questions that lie at the heart of this project.
Mandi Bunga consists of 3 simple parts: Gather 100 people to bathe together in public. Before that, everyone makes their own sarong to wear during the bath. Finally, an exhibition documents the process and outcomes.
All 3 actions ask the same questions:
“What does it mean to do something alone?”
“What does it mean to do something together?”
“How can we be ourselves with others?”
I believe these questions are ones we must all struggle with, in the face of rapidly changing times and a challenging future.
I offer this project as a way to ask them, to give them form, to make flowers bloom from the clouds of tear gas.
Photo by Yee I-Lann
Hope you enjoy it as much as I loved making it, and see you when I get out on the other side of fug.