16 Oct 2011

DIY-ing in Singapore and daily dialogues

I remember when I was younger I’d often text my friends things like “I’m dying of boredom”. I realized a couple of years ago that I stopped being bored when I was 17. And as I grow up and I see more of the world, I realize that..it’s just impossible to be bored. Now, I know many people say that Singapore is boring..there is nothing to do..it has no culture. It is hard for me to agree with that (ok, I admit I might have said things to that extent after coming back from overseas trips and being immersed in new cultures) but whenever I meet tourists here I try to see Singapore from their awe-struck eyes. Not only that, after I entered La Salle College of the Arts (a local arts college) I was just bombarded constantly with inspirational people and works. Someone is always doing something somewhere in a darkroom or in an open space. Whether it’s your barista trying to decorate your caramel macchiato with caramel drizzle on the foam (yep that was me, aged 17) or that OCD cleaner that would stack plates by colour…there is something to see. ANYWHERE. 
Going off track aren’t we? What I was going to talk about today was the DIY culture in Singapore and the amazing things people are doing. When I was 15 I started going to gigs, a lot of them were organized by young people who made a network with overseas bands and would bring them is.  Not to mention the numerous local bands that would perform and I have seen grow and disband/re-band. There was also this one girl that I knew who organized zine exchanges and gigs and until now, I still remember that one gig we held in a little shophouse in Little India, it was overcrowded and hot and we used these plastic wire-holders as entry “tags”..but it was amazing. I met a girl from the Philippines who flew down to attend the gig and sell her zines. It was through her that my love for Milan Kundera, Murakami and Francisca Lia Block started. I stopped being active in all these things but I believe collectives are still keeping the DIY music scene alive…and you don’t have to search that far.
Today me and Nat went for the opening of a studio at Goodman Arts Centre (that was my old La Salle  campus, such good times! It was small and cozy and during lunch time we had the theatre students rehearsing their scripts in the canteen..I also remember sticking stickers around school with my name on it and late nights at the sewing studio..which I am pretty sure were illegal..I’m sorry).
It was called “The Zine Mosh” and it is set up by 2 girls (Grapheme Zine Lab) check the info for the event here  . They had a zine exhibition and there were 2 huge nets hanging from the ceiling (totally DIY, they drilled the holes the night before). There was some food and music playing from their vinyl collection (you could pay $1 to play a song that you liked) and they had records like Blondie, The Beatles and MGMT. I don’t know why but after listening to The Beatles on vinyl I believe that’s the ONLY way to enjoy their music. Unless you are able to go back in time and go to Woodstock then well, THAT would have been awesome.
We got to see different zines from all these artists and just the fact that people are keeping the spirit of doing things by yourself, even publishing a book/zine yourself…it’s amazing. In an age of Ipads and online magazines and big corporations, it is always refreshing to feel and smell the Xerox and appreciate the hard work someone went through to plan out the pages and even the different types of folding an A4 paper to get a little “book”. Some zines were completely tactile and played with the use of different papers. 
So if you feel like you’re getting bored here, why don’t you do zine about how bored you are? If you want to see the world, why don’t you read a book about it? Look at pictures online? If  you think you’re shit at drawing, sit down and doodle whatever you see in front of you on a napkin and I promise after 10 napkins or so..you will see an improvement. As an art and craft teacher now, I really wish to stop the misconception that there are art-y people and non-artistic people. Everything can be art (cue big debate about WHAT IS ART)..the arrangement of your cutlery, how you eat your food, the way you put on your socks and match them with your pants.u 
Don’t wait for the TV to entertain you, don’t wait for the world to entertain you. DO IT YOURSELF. 
Nagging aside, I would just like to say, I’m glad I made that little trip out to the zine exhibition to remind myself that everyone is in their journeys and they’re trying to connect with each other, be it through art or music or even through the way they dress. We are all trying to talk to each other, just..look and listen. Everyday is a dialogue with the people around you, the environment and somehow, people around the world. 
It was nice talking to you. Now here are some pictures from the exhibition :)

Some of the other things in the studio

one of the vinyl records ... 

Nat taking out every single one of the zines out from the ziplocks and looking happy doing it

The two owners under the bunk bed making the transections and Nat ignoring me

I really liked and could relate to this zine about being an art teacher. it was done by Sha Chong 

Social commentaries by Sha Chong. Reminds me of the cartoons I used to see drawn on the SPG series (the books that made the term popular, or so I'd like to believe)

A fancier Zine (they really come in all shapes and colours) really liked the shiny cover..as Nat says, I am a fish. I am atrracted to sparkly things.

Work by Jing Quek. I find his work really hilarious.

More work by him, very risque, totally local and awesome.

This was not part of the exhibition but I wanted to share my 9 year old sister's 4 page long birthday card that she made for me. Yes, 4 PAGES. This was the cover.

These are the last 2 pages where she tried to replicate the same drawing so that I could colour one according to her colouring. She is so DIY she doesn't even need a photocopying machine.



  1. li'l warhol 's illustrations ! andy warhols young illustrations when he was a child.. http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/10/18/andy-warhol-little-red-hen/

  2. http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/10/18/andy-warhol-little-red-hen/