Shifting between individual and communal dimensions, performed in public and private spaces, rest is a powerful counterpoint to the sprawling sense of exhaustion induced by the unrelenting emphasis on work, production, and consumption that prevails in contemporary society. Continuing this ongoing investigation, during the residency the artist will conduct interviews, archival research, and fieldwork to understand notions, practices, and postures of rest in different cultural, historical, and socio-political contexts across Singapore and Southeast Asia focusing specifically on the manifestations of “rest in public spaces”. Through potential collaborations with movement and sound artists, she aims to gradually develop an artistic and performative vocabulary of rest that maps out its personal, political, cultural, and economic meanings.
For our fifth episode of AiRCAST, we entrusted curator and scholar Hsu Fang-Tze to converse with our Artist-in-Residence Han Xuemei. In this insightful exchange, Xuemei discusses how her urgency for engagement steers her fluid theatre practice towards experimenting with different modes of audience participation. As she shares about her current efforts to carve out “intervals of quiet” and “plots of rest” in the hectic context of Singapore, you will also discover that the research on the topic of “rest as resistance” she conducted throughout her residency at NTU CCA Singapore grows out from another residency she did in Taipei a few years ago.
Committed to socially engaged practices, multi-disciplinary theatre practitioner Han Xuemei (b. 1987, Singapore) employs art as a tool for bringing communities together and engaging the audience in visceral and personal ways. In her practice, she creates spaces and experiences that incite participants to think outside the box of existing paradigms and articulate forms of hope and resistance. Since 2012, she is Resident Artist at the Singapore-based theatre company Drama Box. In 2021 she received Young Artist Award, Singapore’s highest award for young arts practitioners.
Hsu Fang-Tze is a lecturer at the Communications and New Media Department, National University of Singapore where she is also a coordinator of the M.A. in Arts and Cultural Entrepreneurship. Her research interests include the formation of audiovisual modernity in Asia, Cold War aesthetics, philosophies of sonic technology, and the embodiment of artistic praxis in everyday life. Apart from her academic work, she is also active as a curator and has curated exhibitions such as Art Histories of a Forever War: Modernism between Space and Home at the Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taiwan (2021-2022) and Wishful Images at National University of Singapore Museum (2020).
Contributors: Han Xuemei, Hsu Fang-Tze
Editor: Anna Lovecchio
Programme Manager: Kristine Tan
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon (The Music Parlour)
Intro & Outro Music: Tini Aliman
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan
12’38”: Audio excerpt from MISSING: The City of Lost Things, 2018. Courtesy Drama Box.
15’07”: Audio excerpt from MISSING: The City of Lost Things, 2018. Courtesy Drama Box.
19’15”: Audio excerpt from FLOWERS, 2019. Courtesy Drama Box.
21’00”: Audio excerpt from FLOWERS, 2019. Courtesy Drama Box.
26’24”: Audio excerpt from Taipei Main Station & Research Field Recording workshop part of Asia Discovers Asia Meeting For Contemporary Performance Artist Lab, 2019. Courtesy the artist.
35’30’’: Audio excerpt from Han Xuemei, field recordings at Tanah Merah, January 2022. Courtesy the artist.