Focus group on the Haze // States of Denial reading group // Post-Museum #subsair

Session 2, Focus group on the Haze: An Inquiry, NTU CCA

An introspective look at our practices and projects, and how this intersects with haze.

I focused more on how my involvement with 350 for four years shaped how I view certain things, and how the approach I took has consciously been one that involves and engages people. I touched a bit on the relationship between climate change and haze- it was largely based on this article here by Dr Winston Chow from NUS.

On the whole, I thought Session 2 was more focused than Session 1. And I liked how the NTU visiting lecturer (I.. cannot recall his name), makes it a point to tie in what people were saying, and giving the “so what” perspectives.

The highlight for me in the sharing today, well I learnt a lot today, but the highlight for me really, and there’s two, are

  • Wei Yi (I think that’s how you spell it) sharing this book by Ann Laura Stoler, “Capitalism and Confrontation in the Sumatra’s Plantation Belt, 1870-1979” and how this phenomena of importing workers in the thousands to the Sumatra region and controlling the labour force, including how they live, gave rise to the success of plantations then. This idea of colonialism, migration, planned agriculture, and economic growth because of cheap labour, is not something new. It has been happening for more than a century. Having that historical context opened my eyes to seeing how the situation we are facing now with the palm oil plantations in Indonesia, and how widespread it is, is happening because it has been so entrenched now in the economic system of Indonesia. And when you have that kind of situation, it adds to this dimension of how complex managing palm oil plantations are, or haze when it occurs, in Indonesia.
  • Josh, an architect, sharing this example of Marina Square in Singapore, designed by American architect John Portman. I don’t really know how to describe the architecture of Marina Square, which comprises of 3 hotels- Mandarin Oriental, Marina Mandarin and The Pan Pacific Hotel  and 1 shopping mall. Probably best to see the pictures and read the explanation here. Just, this idea of opening up spaces (the way Portman does it), air flows, speed of how fast glass door closes, were elements I thought was interesting to consider when designing future buildings in Singapore.

This morning while prepping my slides for the sharing, I realised the USB that I got from COP in Paris had sub-folders containing lots of files I deduced to be from ASEAN Secretariat. One folder was specific to Southeast Asian peatland. Like. Woah. It has been 9 months and I just realised this. I think it’s all meant to be. Ha. Ha.

Archive of Future Common, States of Denial Reading Group, 72-13

So. Jennifer of Post-Museum is the one organising this, and she is also part of the Focus Group on Haze at NTU CCA. People were still sharing and Jen had to leave first. Ben and I followed soon after. Oops. There’s just too many interesting things happening..

As part of the Archive of Future Commons ( a collection of publications which would be shared resources of all members of society in the year 2030) in The Kula Ring (an art exhibition based on a ritual exchange of gifts among inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea).

We were asked to read on the section “The Photo Never Lies” which is found on Chapter 11: Towards Culture of Denial?

Overall I thought Jun facilitated the session well. He started off giving an overview of the book and highlighted two themes; Power and Feeling. We also touched on photographs and its intended message versus people’s perception of it.

I might consider coming back to this again and edit a bit. I just remember I left feeling good cos it was a small discussion group and I felt we were listening to each other.

Shoutout: Post-Museum at The Substation

Post-Museum, “an independent cultural and social space in Singapore, serving as an open platform for examining contemporary life, promoting the arts and connecting people” is taking over The Substation, Singapore’s first independent contemporary arts centre, as part of the Substation Residency programme.

If you want to learn more about the arts and civil society landscape in Singapore (and hang out at a great place at the same time), block out your dates in September!

Have a look at these events

Hanging out with the Cool Kids

Cheryl, Timothy and I arrived at Singapore Science Centre around 8pm, thinking we wanted to picnic there, but the queue went all the way to the roadside, and we did not want to waste time waiting. Quite a few postings on how a) It was extremely crowded b) Basically, because of the cloud and haze they could not see anything. Good thing we decided on the spot to go somewhere else (and good thing other friends decided not to come). We ended up lepak-ing through the night.



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