Thursday, September 06, 2007

Art is made by the alone for the alone

I remember in Secondary 4, in Anglo-Chinese School, we had the option to wear long trousers instead of the shorts we wore from primary school to secondary three. Most boys, wanting to grow up quicker, opted for the long trousers. I kept to my shorts because it was cooler. And my shorts were shorts.

And in university, while most Singaporeans were hanging out in Chinese restaurants, I was taking dance classes. I also took classes in Iranian cooking. I had no wish to go all the way to England to live in Singapore. There was also the radicals from Singapore who after years of being controlled, let loose completely. That was not my cup of tea either. All forms of drugs has never been for me, except caffeine in coffee and diet coke.

I have not purposefully opted out of society. My career in photography and my clients are pretty normal. But my personal interests, are not in the mundane. For me, the secure job and income, the comfortable lifestyle, dulls the senses. Life should be lived like a raw wound, stinging in the rain, bleeding in the wind. My choices are not made by how much money I can make and how secure I will be, but by how I can push my boundaries and expand my personal horizons.

The students from my year in Anglo-Chinese School are having a reunion dinner this weekend. They have asked me to join them several times but I have said no. Perhaps my peers from school feel comfortable where they are now and have time to reminisce. I still feel hungry. I have many books to read, videos on photographers to watch. I am driven to go forward, to meet people whose lives are lived out on the bleeding edge. Perhaps I am wrong, but at the moment I am not that interested in a school life that was relatively uneventful for me. I am also not that interested in family life and answering questions on why I am still single and struggling with a career without security. There is a part of me that wonders if I am missing something by not going to this reunion dinner. But previous reunions have not excited me very much. How are you? I am fine, I am working here. I married so and so and I have so many children.

This normality and success that we were trained for does not interest me. It was meant to be in a way. The details of the divorces, the defeats and the blood, sweat and tears to scaling heights interest me. Battles with death, endemic psychosis in society is a call to arms for me. A need to tear away the wrappings of a privileged life, to expose the wounds of existence and taste the air of life on my tongue. There is much to do and little time to do it in.

I will, perhaps in a wheel chair or bed bound, remember strands of the past when my body fails me. I doubt that it will be the polite conversations that remain embedded in my failing memory. The memories will be of being overawed by sensory overload. I will remember my most passionate sessions of making love, the wounds of breaking up, the fear of death that I encountered on several occasions, the shortness of breadth in Tibet, my teachers who have helped pry open my inward looking mind. It will be the joy of dancing, being alive and then having an aching body from the exertion but that ache once again confirming life... it will be that which will rise to my memories at day's end.

For now, it is too early to look back. I feel alone, but I need to keep moving ahead with my work. Obsessively, single-mindedly, even cruelly.


Anonymous said...

I understand the solitude and sacrifice required in the quest for improving the work. But I do also think that human connections & friendships made along the way add to the meaning and richness of life.



Heng said...

I do treasure friendships. I am appreciative of the people who have helped me on my journey too. The people that are dear to me, I continue to contact. But like sportsmen who have to sleep early and avoid alcohol and sex before an event, I too have to make sacrifices.

ShutterBug said...

Heng, thanks for the keeping the fire alive.. the true soul to art is one that drives the unconventional

you have inspired me again :)

Anonymous said...

I said in Singapore, you can't be too different...

To which...

you asked me how different do I want to be... I didn't answer.

But I guess now it is more a choice.

and it comes with a price.

One that is way too "expensive" for me.