Dear people, it is my birthday.
Come, celebrate and cringe along with me! I’m going to go through all the things I did this year.
Are you ready? (Warning: epic post)
Department of Radical Reinvention of the Self and Art
This year, I started to disconnect from being a ‘gallery’ artist. I mean, I’ve always DIY-ed a bunch of different stuff, but I kept relying on the gallery exhibition model as the central engine – the seat of my art, so to speak. The gallery was where I got my money, my satisfaction and my audience. I was building my career around it.
2012 has been a slow, painful process of rethinking and reinventing everything I do. I revamped my website and came up with a proper logo, based on a tattoo I have on my right shoulder.
I started this blog where I promised myself I would write in the most straightforward, honest way possible, no matter how vulnerable it made me. Radical inclusivity as a natural outcome of radical self-acceptance, and vice versa…
Or, as Stefan Sagmeister put it: Trying to Look Good Limits My Fucking Life (He didn’t say fuck, I did)
I learnt to say and write fuck as many times as I like from Amanda Fucking Palmer. I also learned alot from her about what art can be when you have self-belief, and back that up by investing in yourself, for real. This doesn’t mean you’re being selfish or narcissistic, but in fact allows you share the best of what you do with others.
Another thing Amanda Palmer gave me the courage to do: for the first time, I sang and played ukulele live on a real stage in front of a real audience. Hearing my own voice amounted to nothing less than a mini personal revolution.
I sound ok. Not great, but I think you can tell from the video that the performance was really a tightrope walk in overcoming fear. This is the truth I have learned, dear people. You dream one day you will be ‘good enough’ to do The Thing You Want, but that day when you are free of fear will never come.
‘Sing, even if people tell you that you can’t sing’ . People don’t give you permission, so you have to give yourself permission. It is ok. It is OKAY. Whatever it is, do it. And do it now, not when you’re ready.
I love you and you will find others who will too.
I created an alter ego STiNky pOOdLe for the performance. The name comes from a little song by another hero of mine, Tangela Tricoli. Here’s STiNky pOOdLe with Grace Chin, the wonderful lady who organized SCALE: Wisdom Of The Fools, the gig I played at (which btw, was Time Out KL’s Best Gig of the Year!):
My friend Shahril Nizam painted a portrait of STiNky pOOdLe (scroll down) that took my breath away. I don’t know what’s next. I want to write stinky punk songs, maybe make a stinky zine full of vaginas and sex and pain and beauty.
Also in the Department of Firsts: Me, non-husband Zedeck, aforementioned Shahril and Azharr Rudin went on a train and made a short film together. This is us being zombies after 7 hours:
Department of Money Making
I did make some gallery art, early in the year. Portable versions of a previous installation about banned books. I killed my wrist and shoulder bending lots of brass wire into graphs.
Photo by The Longue Duree, who wrote a ‘non-review’ of the show.
The works were shown in Singapore, then in another exhibition that travelled to Indonesia. I can’t describe my relief when I heard all 3 editions and the artist proof sold out. The money from this sale has kept us afloat for the better part of the year.
I appreciate that gallery sales have been my main source of income over the years. But it feels too much like winning the lottery, and I was RM10,000 out of pocket for 5 months before I actually got paid. I’m lucky enough to have a safety net of parental support, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the math isn’t working. It’s hard to build a life on unsteady ground.
Another thing I did for money was a series of drawings of childhood games, which will eventually be turned into flip-books (a project by aforementioned Grace Chin). Over 250 drawings later, my shoulder was ready to fall off. On the other hand, I’m now best friends with a graphics tablet, which I’d never used before.
Department of Things That Didn’t Take Off:
We had big plans for this series of posters in support of queer people in Malaysia. But we stalled and hesitated and delayed, partly due to fear of an almost guaranteed backlash. A couple of posters were featured on CEKU’s site and included in the Violence is Not Our Culture art notebook. This is one project I plan to resurrect soon.
This proposal for a poster project got sent around, but never went anywhere. I loved making a proposal in poster format instead of the usual mindless text. One day I want to make this happen.
A proposal I did with Varsha, for a public performance of eating together. We made plans for a table cloth that has sleeves and masks attached. The organizers fell through, but we’ll make this happen one day. Look! Masks with long tongues! C’mon, it’s fucking awesome.
Department of Art I’m Proud to Have Made:
Bersih3.0 happened. I made and wore a yellow dress covered in yellow flowers.
Thus came about #bungaBERSIH.
This short video I made in my garden on a sunny day. A small thing I’m proud of. It was a heavy subject – the 11 March Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. I tried to find a way to say what I wanted to say, something that held both pain and hope without falling prey to sentimentality.
Me, Rahmat and Poodien (my Buka Kolektif brothers) finally got together and birthed a book documenting the 2011 Buka Jalan Performance Art Festival. We saw it through. We closed the chapter, and now we can move on to the future. I’m proud of us.
Department of What’s Next
I have been talking about the Epic Project for awhile now. Alot of groundwork is being done (proposal writing, money seeking – all that FUN art stuff no one ever hears about) and you’re going to start seeing actual art early next year.
I can tell you this:
I am developing a computer game.
It will be downloadable free worldwide.
It tells a story about finding your way.
Dear person reading this, thank you for being here. This is going to seem totally shameless and non-Asian, but fuck it. For my birthday, I’m going to ask for a present:
Keep following me, and tell me what you’re thinking. You can sign up for my mailing list , subscribe to the blog or just keep checking in. Whether you’re family (hi mom! hi dad!), friend or stranger, this is the best present you can give me – it will help me make the art I want to make and share it with you.
The art I want to make is meaningless without you.
Love from me to you, at age 32,
Sharon @ STiNky pOOdLe