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District 14: Associates' Rehearsal 1

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

| Documentation by Syarifuddin Sahari |

10am - 1pm, Geylang Serai

The associates met inside Joo Chiat Complex, and Haizad briefed them on their first task for the rehearsal:

  • To stand at the railings on any level and remain in that spot for 20 mins.

  • Watch “live performances” that pop in and out.

  • Observe the behaviour, movement, shadows, sounds.

  • Take notice of when they get bored.

  • To not write down their findings.

  • What to say if they are approached by security.

Birds perched upon the indoor railings inside Joo Chiat Complex.

Some thoughts from the task:

- We seemed to be noticed as we entered / heads turned when we came in.

o Was it because we were “strangers” who are not from the area?

o Does it happen to everyone that enters, a general curiousity to see a new presence

entering the building?

- We were the only ones leaning on the railings, everyone else was walking, besides those who

were waiting momentarily for someone to catch up.

- The conscious effort to blend in, a [personal] challenge of stepping out of a performer / artist hat and to be pedestrian.

o Compelled to look at the phone to seem more “natural” and had to resist doing so to stay true to the task.

Everyone then moved over to a coffeeshop at the back of Joo Chiat Complex to share their observations, and Haizad requested them to choose only 1 sight / performance out of all they have witnessed:

- Haizad: People taking the escalators to go down, while taking the stairs to go up.

o An interesting occurrence in Joo Chiat Complex as it is usually the other way around.

- Syimah: Stillness when nobody was crossing the central area.

- Valerie: Entering and exiting the space to stillness to 4 people who were planted.

- Jonit: Security uncle sitting in his booth drinking coffee.

- There was a common “performance” of the cleaner who mopped the floor; everyone agreed that he was the “main lead”.

With that in mind, Haizad then invited the associates to write a love letter to Joo Chiat (could be the space or the people) or to someone who will watch District 14.

Writing the letter with a view and cool wind, accompanied by drinks.

They then exchanged and read / performed each other’s letter out loud:

  • Jonit’s letter was written to the security uncle, considered to be cheesy / cringey yet filled with love and care.

  • Syimah’s letter was written to the stillness, and addressed to the space, architecture and topography.

  • Valerie’s letter was written to the pakciks and makciks, written / presented in point form and addressed the concepts of age and tenderness.

They were then requested to ponder on how to translate the letters into movement:

  • If given a commission, what would the associates do / how would they create a work / respond to the letter through the movement?

  • Try to avoid a typical / shoot type of critic.

  • To derive their movements from observations and to distil.

  • Weighing / navigating between “cool shit” or being revolutionary and being gimmicky.

To which the associates responded:

- Jonit:

o 2 people (alien-like), faceless (no eyes and mouths), floating in space with shooting stars as traffic.

o A virtual-reality experience.

o Similar to a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), not knowing who the player / audience will meet.

- Valerie:

o Dance film / film.

o Juxtaposing the busy and still places.

o Incorporating architectural visuals.

o Including the sounds as well as images of people breathing.

- Syimah:

o Unsure of location.

o Durational walk of about 5 hours with a neutral expression.

o Smile at the end with the exhaustion and sweat being prominent.

Reading each other’s letters.

Haizad then shared his final thoughts, as a closing to the rehearsal:

- Ideas to come from a human value, something personal and meaningful to self and in-line with them (each individual) being an independent artist.

- An artist can also be a researcher that can help to distil.

- Contributing VS Eliminating.

- Juggling 2 humans’ emotions and ideals / morals (with regards to facilitating the workshops with the invited artists, though it could also be regarding the artist / performer and audience).

- What if they (P7:1SMA perhaps) could produce a 4D experience of Geylang and incorporate the 3 ideas shared into one?

o Include wind blowing into the audience.

o Water sprayed to simulate sweat flying.

o Think outside-the-box in performance-making.


As much as we will attempt to record the process, this journal does not necessarily reflect the artistic direction or intention of the work. This is our interpretation as we experience it with the artists and collaborators.

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