The presentation itself was a delight, though. Our interpreter Thet impersonated Joshua in English, while our interpreter Soe impersonated Fiona in Burmese – both reading from a pre-prepared script.
Thet: My name is Joshua Yang. I like the idea of subversion. I wanted to see if the word could subvert itself, making it Vert Sub, which expanded into Vertical Submarine, something that operates just under the radar.
Thet/Joshua: We were told that our work had a narrative structure: we were trying to tell a story, but the only thing that was missing were the actors...
This turned out to be rather good thing. Joshua spoke about Abusement Park, his installation-with-actors at the Singapore Art Museum’s Night Festival. (I’d thought he was gonna talk about Dust.)
Yes, this took up more than 30 seconds. I was kinda pissed, because I thought it made Singapore look selfish. Maybe we ARE. But the point is, this brought out the weird hint of political subversion in their practice which barely registers to most viewers.
Alter U Participant: If you do something like that in our country, we would get a lot of trouble. How do you avoid that?
Joshua: I think we avoid doing things which are directly political. On the surface, it looks like a lot of fun and games.
Fiona: Regarding the violence of the 1970s: artists know about it. But the public, if they come into it, it’s just an amusement park with a twist. That’s how we get away with it.
KS: NGOs always think you have to make something useful, and the “useful” is always described very very conservatively: you must give power to people hwo ware disempowered. You can see that with Vertical Submarine it’s about creating worlds in small rooms with wit, for great pleasure, to subvert these expectations.
In a way the Flying Circus, people say it produces nothing: it is not useful, artists meeting people who are interested in art around Asia. But we still do it, because we think usefulness is a restrictive way of thinking, if you think, “What’s the use of A or B or C?”
We all sat around and wrote out our own ideas to contribute – though there’s attribution, these ideas will be from here on open-source, free for anyone to use without hope for royalties or recognition.
I wrote the synopsis for an unrealised short story for mine. Then I realized that my synopsis was basically a work of microfiction, so I withdrew it for my own selfish use.
Who’s subverting who now, buckaroos? BWAHAHAHAAHAHAHA.