The Mekar Programme by The Bhumi Collective x artseen by NLB

The Mekar Programme was a panel of six artists who presented on their works-in-progress on Facebook Live which were developed as part of an ongoing mentorship process with the Bhumi Collective. Throughout the one-to-one-and-a-half-hours, each artist (or group of artists) spoke on their motivations, topical concerns and most importantly, their work process and how that led them to either develop the work they had now, or reach the current stage in their work-in-progress.

Personally, for me, it was all too much.

It was invigorating, yet exacerbating.

Every artist presented a work that I related to so, so much (not to mention that of one of my friends, Shaw En, a dance and movement artist) and by the end of it, unlike most panels, I had no questions. I simple sat in awe, and it made me wonder: did I not act simply because I was waiting, or simply because I was scared?

Oftentimes it is not fear that paralyses us, but loss. Fear of that loss then in fact paralyses us, and when we in fact realise we can do so much more, and this then leads to when work becoming play.

I was taught this change in linguistic habit by a dear teacher of mine, Dr Robin Loon, who said (and I paraphrase) that we should start saying “I identify as…” rather than “My identity is…”, for the use of the transitive verb in the earlier insinuates that your identity can change, which is indeed the case, while the latter implies that your identity is as a rock; unmovable,unchangeable.

I wrote down a few things while the panel was going on (mainly quotes from what the panelists say):

It only struck me about halfway through the panel that unlike most panel discussions, I didn’t have any questions at all.

Rather, what this panel did for me was uniquely unusual: it inspired, and it intensified.

Inspired — it made me want to do, to get off my haunches and instead pursue a career beyond what I had imagined (sounds very ergh, Singapore-ish here but ironically, it is true) and pursue creating, and talking, a process that I have come to see so much value in over the course of these 1 to 2 months.

Intensified — a desire, a passion, a flame (or perhaps a spark) of energy to remind me that all was not lost, that (contrary to the view I have had of the creative industry in Singapore being smouldering-ember-like) it was indeed possible to work through this pandemic, and to make our own rainbow where none shown through.

This panel did the one thing that no panel did: it ignited, which hitherto I have not had the experience of having any panel do to me, and which I will always be grateful.

You can reach out to me (please do!) if you would like to know more in detail about The Mekar Programme and on what were the various works the artists presented on, via Telegram @FieldUnicorns :’)

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Philippe Pang

Philippe Pang

A communicator at heart; a manager at hand, but always the speaker of the truth for those who cannot.