Participatory performance and installation commissioned for Singapore Biennale 2019, consisting of 13 solid-coloured banners in geometric shapes, hung at the entrance of National Gallery Singapore.

The banners are constructed out of fabric reclaimed from political party flags, collected around Port Dickson in the wake of Malaysia’s historic 14th General Elections. This event on 9 May 2018 saw a change in government for the first time in the nation’s history.

The project included two participatory events across Malaysia and Singapore: the first at National Art Gallery of Malaysia in August 2019, and the second at National Gallery Singapore in November 2019. For each event, I invited members of the public to sit with, and sew freely on the banners.

This work is an ode to the unseen and unrecognized, slow and steady labour that goes into the making of any monumental change. Participants were given shiny holographic bandanas to wear, and were asked to sew with the same coloured thread as the banners. Thus, while what was sewn is not obviously visible on the finished banners, the act of sewing together was made performative and very visible.

There is a poem in Malay that goes with this work, printed on the reverse side of the bandanas:

tiap-tiap hari
biar jari menyatakan
waktu mulut mengatakan
apa yang jelas di depan mata
bahawasanya ini tugu kita:
langit biru
tanah merah
rimba hijau
awan putih

An unsatisfactory English translation is:

every day
let our fingers speak
when we mouth
what we’re seeing
that this our monument:
blue sky
red earth
green forest
white cloud

I also made a printed zine in collaboration with my friends Aizyl Azlee and Grace Wong, which was displayed with the final work and given out for free as long as copies lasted.

Below is video documentation of the first sewing event at National Art Gallery in Malaysia. We took the banners on a parade around the surrounding streets, and as a finale, read out the poem together.