Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Resident Tourist

Ever felt like you don't fit in Singapore? Even though you loved the island with all its little fleet of ERP and chopping seats? Read The Resident Tourist by Troy Chin. This is a comic about the journey that artist himself went through. I personally find the comic to be thought provoking - why do we stay or leave singapore? - and humorous.

One of the issue that The Resident Tourist touches on is the perception in Singapore that art doesn't sell. You can't work as an artist - music, art, writing or theater - in Singapore simply because no one will care or pay for your effort. Is this a self-fulling prophecy? Is it because of this view that art ultimately does not sell that disheartened Singaporeans leave the country and beyond?

This, I believe are leftovers from the period where Lee Kuan Yew had the mantle of power. People are encouraged to study science and maths - logical subjects - that will enable a good and stable job. Those people became parents and grandparents and passed this view to their children and grandchildren. This ends up perpetuating the fatalistic view of Art = No good.

The Resident Tourist

That of course leads to a situation where local talents in all arts industry are not fully developed. Take the music industry for example; our most famous singer Stefanie Sun established herself overseas first before she was even known in Singapore. The same goes for JJ Lin, Ah Do and others in the arts or writing industry.

Foo Swee Chin (or FSc as she is more commonly known), is one artist who has left Singapore for Japan to nurture her art (and where most of her fan base is). Her nightmarish gothic style won her critical acclaim overseas but made little splash in Singapore. Had she stayed in Singapore, she could have found few support for her work. As a matter of fact, it was only in recent years that more venues (Mugen etc) for creative work have appeared. Despite that, we still do not aid those artists; it seemed that only those who have gotten recognition overseas are deemed worthy of our attention. This indicates a serious problem of how we manage and groom talents.

I do believe that if this cycle continues, more Singaporean will just want to migrate. After all, there is no real culture of our own. Nothing that will make us stay. Our ensemble of big production local films and plays are pathetic; our mega play The Forbidden Palace is a pale imitation of a world class play the likes of Oliver Twist.

I do not have any viable solution. What I do know however is we need support our artists. The MDA can and should do more instead of encouraging safe and uncreative failures.

The Resident Tourist Part 1 and 2 can be purchased for $10 each at Ani-Play, Sunshine Plaza. Alternatively you can read online but do support the artist by buying a hard copy.

Disclaimer: This post is a whole lot of bull by the author. :D

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