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SAD: This Girl’s In Love With You

This goes on the list of best shows accomplished in 2018, Singapore. Presented by Sub After Dark (SAD), a multi-disciplinary event that celebrates the peculiarities of our iconic arts centre, The Substation.
SAD: This Girl’s In Love With You

by SAND Magazine

December 25, 2018

In October, The Substation threw a party in honour of the nation's most famed icon – The Singapore Girl. Anyone who is residing, or has lived in Singapore would be able to cough up descriptors relating to this particular identity. One thing that doesn't naturally stand out is the profiling of female bodies through these perfectly coiffed hair, cherry red lips as the paradigm of Asian hospitality, elegance and beauty.

Surely for Singapore that prides itself in being a melting pot of cultures, the central figure for our national airline should not be limited to an East Asian face. Except that's what we constantly celebrate, along with the infamously strict guidelines to be accepted as a legitimate 'SQ Girl'. 

Led by arts practitioner, performance artist and drag queen Becca D'Bus, the alternative Balmain army truthfully reinvented what The Singapore Girl should look like based on our daily experience on the streets from day to night. Performers, draped in batik and sprinkled with glitter, broke away from the traditions of what it means to be a Singapore body. Those who attended the event were welcome to join the late night confession table, where ex-crew members answered burning questions about the industry and demands of their job.

We speak to Becca D'Bus to find out more about the production of this segment, and concerns that were displayed:

How did you come to explore the idea and put the Not #BalmainArmy into action at SAD: This Girl's in Love with You?

There were a few experiences that really informed what became Not #BalmainArmy. Singapore Girls arriving by the busload at foreign airports, ready to fly a plane load of people to Singapore. They are fierce as fuck. Fashion is fun. I love getting dressed. I love looking at it. I love talking about it.

In the case of the Singapore Girl, is it safe to say that female bodies, personalities and behaviours run the risk of being policed? And how does that come into play with heritage deployment?

They run no such risk. They just are policed. No?

From the experiences presented as part of Singapore Girl, or Heritage Deployed so far, what significant observations and perspectives have you and your collaborators discovered?

I haven’t been that physically present. My favourite thing that has happened with me on site was standing outside the Substation just after the installation of the gallery was complete, I wasn’t in drag, but a giant cutout version of me in drag was in the window. A woman walked by and said “So Ugly!” and looked to me for agreement. I have never been prouder.

Over the years, the conversation on feminism has expanded from pure awakening and awareness to one that questions gender autonomy and ruling power in the world we live in today. As a drag queen and arts practitioner, how have gender studies and social science aided your work?

I don’t know that I think that much about either of those fields. People who care about them seem to think I am interesting, and that’s sweet of them, maybe that lends my approach to drag some credibility?

In some ways I think it’s terribly boring for a drag queen to discuss her work in theoretical terms. I understand why it is of interest. And I suppose of the performers who do drag in Singapore, I’m one of maybe 2 or 3 who could. And that’s opened some doors for us. But in a way, discussing the work is not the work.

From your experience, what are crucial considerations that practitioners, curators and community managers should keep in mind when attempting to foster constructive, beneficial discussions towards identity-related concerns?

Maybe on a very basic level, are the identities being discussed represented in the discussions? Maybe also, why are we discussing this? Who benefits immediately? Who benefits down the line? What does it cost to have these discussions? Is that cost equal? How can we make it more so? Where do these discussions happen? Who owns that? Can it be different? Can we have a party instead?

Sub After Dark (SAD) is a multi-disciplinary event that celebrates the peculiarities of The Substation. Its new signature programme is a madhouse art, ideas, and performances colliding in one space. SAD nights take place monthly. 
Read more exhibition-related news here


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