I cry for you O’ Singapura

“Sometimes it’s bad
When the going get’s tough
Ya may look in the mirror
Ya may wanna give up
Sometimes we don’t even want to try
Sometimes we cry”
– Van Morrison, “The Healing Game”

i have to explain, why i am sometimes in tears. Maybe i am over the top in my sentiments due to an incorrigible romantic streak inside. Or maybe I am tired of telling jokes. Especially when we don’t hear really a hearty laughter no more but usually that squiggly “hehehe!” as if quite often it sounds a lot like we are just reading them “Ha ha hee hee Ho ho” of an sms text on the ubuitious damn mobile fone that’s hypnotised a whole gerneration and a half this side or that new era of Anthropomophenes” and my wife still the last of the mohicans resisting owning one today (a hard core ‘keitai hantai’) and i can tell you it ain’t cute when you married to one and lately i declared once again to her that it’s over between us and yet we are not and that is probably the reason for my inability to hold back my tears.
i normally will not say things about personal relations in public discussions but it has come to a point where i have to in order to retain my seemingly eroding or thinning of a shaven dwindling integrity or trust in my ability to live up to the many claims of responsibility I am consciously claiming out of certainty that not many in this god forsaken society bother with the things i feel is necessary and hence have added to my already full choke a bloke schedule.
I cry for you Singapore because you have pains and yet you do not give enough attention to them, or even acknowledge them. You have pains that are symptoms of your ills but you do not see them or are numbed to them taking it astride like a stoic warrior ignoring these pains in order to fight the larger battle.Your continued trivialization of these pains you say is pragmatic, that’s the way to move on. But for me the fact that these pains you chose to ignore are in fact all the reason why your idea of moving on is nothing more than an aberration, another long held recurring nightmarish delusion.  For the pains are the symptoms and areas of utmost concerns to be confronted, addressed, changed if not seeking care in order to heal that body in pain otherwise we shall only be playing illusive games of virtual movements of ‘moving on’ in progress toward that bright promise of a better age.
I cry for you my Singapore for your little red dot of a great promise keeps missing the point. I once sang with gusto an anthem had my mates sniggering for being not loudly singing it were made to sing it again and again by the disciplinarian school principal. Boys will be boys they say and naughty as they come they enjoyed the vexations of the principal punishing us as seeing him behaving in anger or in irritation, was an extra performance to watch and at real reason we rather liked it that it took almost the whole first period of the classes and usually we were half asleep anyway. But naughty as I was I secretly held patriotic sentiments whereby I would always be singing the anthem in my loudest, feigning nonchalance in parlance with my mates but I had as much faith in this song to sing it loud with my heart a blazing.
And yet I cry for you Singapore, for your people may have grown in fortune, in numbers, in education, sophistication and experience, exposed to various diverse cultures by travel and tourism and yet in many ways hold on to out-dated ideas of currency in terms of refinement that often enough is causing unnecessary anxieties as well as questionable postures of uneven judicial administration in a population of increasingly evolved individuals of self reflective consciousness.
I cry for you Singapore…


When Peace Comes To Town

We ain’t gonna lay no military budget down

When Salman Rusdie said+

“But the overwhelming weight of the problem lies in the world of Islam, and much of it has its roots in the ideological language of blood and war emanating from the Salafist movement within Islam, globally backed by Saudi Arabia.”

We could change the words Islam and the backing country name and the Salafist movement with other relevant extremist movement just as easily and not be far from the truth in our globalized world of great bright hope for the future in the midst of grand old ideological paranoia getting more and more visibly threatening poses of inevitable terrorism to come. His aggressive tone is an extremity in defence of his position as an intellectual, artist writer who had done masterpieces said to be detrimental to a way of life and an insult to those who are in close identification with those Rushdie criticizes nay condemns.

I understand both sides but I would cross the line to be where Rushdie will be standing but I shall have a heart that will also find blood in my tears for those on the other. For whatever atrocities they have done we look back in history and find equally horrendous things have been suffered by them, just as well if not more and been mostly perpetrated by those who held the flags of freedom and democracy most high but at the same time also raping the lands of these angry societies that accumulated so heavily that resulted to the current anxieties in  retaliation in such desperate and violent measures. Looking at them all in more historical details, it won’t be a big gamble if we will bet to our last dollar that will reveal those humiliation and shame that pushed them into their present fearful sad situation.


PingPongSUzhou copy

“The Realm in the Mirror, the Vision out of Image”, Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, SuZhou, China, 9 May 2013 – 18 August 2013 http://www.chinanews.com/shipin/cnstv/2013/05-09/news213680.shtml

The Art of Apology

“There is no such a thing as art. There is only invention and creativity. There is no such thing as literature, only imagination and the will to remodel remake recreate the future by understanding our history. The ability to fully accept our wrongs and right them by facing them and willing to be ashamed and apologetic. But do not turn away from mistakes as if we do not make them.”
– “A Country With No Names”
commissioned text for “Files Not Found”,
Palais De Tokyo, Paris, France June 21 2013

If there is one aspect of cultural difference that may take a long time to change between East and West, is that of saving face and the inability to apologize for mistakes that may show a gross inadequate understanding or erroneous judgement on the part of a leader or the revered figure of authority to the social group that look up to the ones seen as wise, flawless and well deserving of the populace’s admiration. This after all is also due to the fear of a “once bitten twice shame” become an irreversible loss of respect hence the chance to be forever defeated from one’s advantageous role.
If only we would see that in fact it is those who admit human failings and quickly make amends for them that rightfully gain our respect, so much of what we waste our time and energy on could be used to better advantage and return our adolescent squabbles, unnecessary games of blame and shame into the much neglected but urgently requiring immediate address to be really in our crises ridden earth full of pressing symptoms of our ills and make time for real discussions of the real problems that are just about to tip us into obscurity if not imminent dangers of extinction by sick self destruction, the way we are actually raping mother earth and of its offerings in terms of bio-diversity and dying for working out the various considerations of eco balance in the consumer culture that will only get a chance if we learn to live consciously with tested ways of self-sustainability.
Instead what we have are the same old same old macho dynasties of cronies thinking their fake objectivity will carry us into a future, so be it bright we gotta wear shades ? did someone say? did you believe that?
The only shades i care to talk about these days is this BLACK SQUARE that we inherited from Malevich.
So yes I shall not pretend to be celebrating but I shall be apologizing profusely that I AM SORRY!

The Revolution - Tang Da Wu 2013

“The Revolution” – Tang Da Wu 2013 Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.


Revolution is dead, dead is revolution
It died the day we buried art
, we tried to be too smart
We took ourselves oh too seriously
Trading art like treasures, is only like money trading for money

Freedom too is gone, lost our last cause
Long gone our values, blinded by selfish greed
we tried to save it with philosophy and theory
Mind fuck it to death with all kinds of Ideology

What we got now, All that’s left is comfort and security
Preservations for the sake of posterity
In the name of justice we forgot integrity
In the name of truth we forgot beauty
In the name of progress we forgot how to be happy

Art is dead, dead is Art
Not another start, until we learn to play it smart….

Open Letter to Gary Pollard, RTHK: Art Basel Coverage

Dear Gary Pollard,

Re: The Works/The Pulse/In Conversation/ RTHK: Art Basel Coverage

Thank you for including me in your TV coverage of Art Basel Hong Kong 2014. I am grateful to be featured so prominently as part of such a prestigious event. However, I would like to clarify certain inaccuracies in the report concerning my relationship with my gallerist and agent, Ms. Helina Chan.

As a performance artist from Singapore, I was well aware that if I wanted to perform at Art Basel Hong Kong, then we would have needed to include the performance portion in our curatorial project application submission to Art Basel. While we were sending in the applications for my participation, I had already decided not to sing or play at the fair. So when I brought the guitar to the fair, it was because a friend had invited me to perform and jam later that night with others in an artist-run pub. This was the mutual understanding and agreement I had with Helina’s gallery and with Art Basel HK.

The arrest of Cheng Guan did make me think that his situation does call for an intervention. However, I did not feel the fair was the appropriate occasion for such an intervention. I was more worried for Cheng Guan’s safety and did not want to do anything that might jeopardize his release. Helina was not aware that I had spoken to the RTHK journalist about the song I had written for Chen Guang, as she was not with me during the interview.

Helina did not want us to disrespect our agreement with Art Basel HK. I agreed with her stance, and knew why she took my guitar to help store it away – although it may not have seemed so to outside parties. Your staff member, Ms. Lau, if I am not mistaken, is an old acquaintance who had worked in Singapore before. She may have seen me grimace and complain when the managing director took my guitar away from me, but she jumped to conclusions.

With regards to the block on seeing and interviewing me, it was my call, as I was dazed and confused after my blackout, so I told the gallery not to allow anyone but friends to reach me on the last day of the fair in Hong Kong.

With all due respect to your good office, I want to clarify that my gallery managing director, Ms. Helina Chan, should not be seen as one who restricted my actions, but in fact is a good and respected partner.

Thank you,
Yours sincerely

Lee Wen






A Black Square for the Little Red Dot

What is the time?

“What is the time?” Performance, 2nd DaDao Live Art Festival, Beijing,2004

The earth has been changing more than it normally would if she does it by herself without human interventions. It was not so bad in the beginning but the interventions have gone beyond certain limits of tolerance by mother earth. Mostly due to capitalists with power and greed to profit in larger and faster manner. It is up to us to take pro-active measures to prevent this from not only destroy the earth we live in but quite inevitably it leads to our self-destruction. I am not a dreamer so far fetch to see this happening. That the evidences are clear and we need to work together. However there are many possible ways. Just as many ways to detract from the question are even more destructive propositions that offer to address these issues but in fact leading us further astray. There is a need to take heed of the fallacious list of so called pragmatic solutions such as: 1) support the status quo and all will be okay, rock the boat and that is certainty of our own demise. 2) nuclear power is fastest way and new is clean and manageable 3) The military is most important to safeguard peace and security.
1) Democratic systems of representations are easily shaken out of its earlier intentions whenever it leads to centralization of power. It often seems when society get on in general terms of development, the creeping tendency of the centralization of power goes on unabated as the citizens are busy working on improving their own lot and circumstances. Our human heart has always been a battleground for good and evil. I need to keep check of myself all the time and I believe so does the status quo, no matter how innocent or idealistic they were in the beginning but the temptation of evil forces are at work all the time especially when we least expect of it.
2) There is still not a single good solution to take care of nuclear wastes even though they do have ways to hide them temporary. The problem is the more nuclear energy is produced and used the more radioactive wastes is accumulated and we have to deal with. I read time and again how negligent we have been and just one mistake may lead to great sufferings we never imagined could happen. One such example is the shocking news about how some ships were discovered by chance that had been sunken in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and were actually loaded full of nuclear wastes that presumably were taken up by some crook companies to be gotten rid off without proper idea where and how it was to be done and must have conveniently sunk the ship thinking no one will know since the radioactive wastes are all casted in concrete and will take years or centuries before they might cause harm. It had the nonchalant “so who cares?” attitude and as long as it does not happen in our life time. So the logic of safety in the newer designs of nuclear production is only as far as within our life time. But what about the time of our children’s children?
3) As I had said many times before the fact that we had two world wars and the guidance of traditions, religions, and wisdom of the minds who inspired us to its current sophistication and cultural manifestations, need us still maintain our barbaric animal instinct to kill that who is different from our own in order to protect our right to see the continuation of our traditions, our way of life? If there is a God/Allah or whatever name we shall call this higher consciousness, “ultimate reality” (as William James very well name it in comparative studies), surely human beings were put on this earth to celebrate the glory of life through the many diversities of language, culture and manifestations of a global ritual that is regularly set to the rhythm of the daily, monthly, annually animated natural cycles of the stars, moon and the sun through peaceful exchanges country to country, culture to culture, and languages to languages. not by the nozzle or barrel of a gun in the megalomaniac’s intention but by love that was the reason we were put here from the beginning in the singing, dancing, graceful manifestation of a consciousness seeking harmony and understanding as one heart beating joyously next to another without need for power to control the other by fear inducing actions and other destructive means.
I was introduced to artists from other lands first as a child. It was a large book amongst a pile of other books left to us when my father passed away. It was a colourful book of children’s drawings that was the main source of joy whenever I flipped through it. Somehow I still feel a thrill whenever I get a chance to talk about it. I imagine it must have been a kind of catalogue of an exhibition of children’s drawings from all over the world. Whenever I participate in international art events I often find that artists are naturally inclined to talk in very critical extremes and I realize that they often give a picture not so pleasant when we compare them to what we hear and read about in the mass media. It is not just a matter of self-victimizing in order to gain sympathy but an underlying worry as most of them are sensitive people who care about their society that they are more harsh than expected.
Added to that we want others to know the discrepancies we offer is not to put ourselves down but to share the knowledge first hand and remind others that we all live in a complex world that needs mutual respect and understanding. To be a good friend is to understand their pains and sufferings too and not only to celebrate joys and successes.



Concrete Dreamer:

my pain is sane
to acknowledge it
not ignore or trivialize it
to confront it not glorify it
it is the first step to healing
i feel anger and if i cry it is more from anger
and anxiety than sadness
that we do not get together to do something about but rather remain alone
screaming our silence with tears of rage alone
that leads to suicide of the hopeless
In resignation of the choiceless

In solidarity with the pro-democracy in Hong Kong rally held at Hong Lim Park last night gave me a hopeful insight to prop up my already dismal and fading jaded faith in Singapore’s sundown art scenario attempt to hurriedly switch into sunrise. I must admit that my attendance had been encouraged more by my need for that of going out from Gillman Barracks for an affordable dinner while at the same time to bring a guest visiting from U.S. there as she wanted to know more about the scenario here and was an captivated audience of my so called ‘not a performance’ presentation last Friday. I would almost classify this as one of those local attractions like Bird Park, the Zoo, or other attractions whereby may never crossed my mind for me to visit until a foreign friend asked for directions that I realize that it would be advantage to go with her out of my good will and hospitality and at the same time gave me a chance for me to refamiliarize myself with my home country while giving points of key importance so as to also re-analyse my changed perception of our nation in transition if not revolution.
The difference this time is that a public rally like this is also organized and attended by humans and not merely a venue of interest. I arrived in Hong Lim Park just about when the speeches had already finished as one man was announcing his wrapping up last words concerning the lighting up of candles and messsages on paper as instructioins for a final wrapping up. I was all sweaty from the quick paced walk of anxiety towards the park from Chinatown MRT where i would think any other tourist attraction would have better signage of directions pointing towards the park from the MRT station.
However I must say I was happily surprised to see a larger crowd than expected and although as I suspected to observe the gathering in solidarity consisted I believe of a larger crowd of people from Hong Kong than of that of Singaporeans.

I am much clearer than ever about what is happening in my life as an artist since the return from Istanbul. The only thing that I have a great deal of difficulty with the status quo is what is preventing the game players who are not that different especially when the people who were once upon a time from the same beginnings of our struggle, see the need for solidarity and to be honest with the times as of by now we should notice how the house we are all in had a different permutation of our “musical chair” game, of which at the end of the day still played to the tune provided mostly by one of the powers that be. The only way we can get that tune to rock out more diversely and providing positive contributions, in line with the kicks in our lives is for us very much in need to be willing to forget the differences between the ones who are asking for these changes. If indeed there are serious reasons to complain that the tune being played is getting dangerously drifting towards that of the military and uncomfortable drumbeat of boringly if not wavering towards fundamentalistic intolerance, in the name of traditions or other conservative regards, that the authorities are so clearly in need of a check and balance coming from the grass roots and grounds of art and cultural workers. And yet we who find them really for want of a better comparison is still stuck in the rut of patriarchy treating us like teeny boppers fearing our immaturity may destroy the status quo when the time we had seen deserves a more complex tempo.
It reminded me of the A.G.A. times in which the suggestion of pooling of resources to print the one page statement in Straits Times was at first received with warm enthusiasm but switched to that of a cold silence when Kuo Pao Kun cautioned the community of the repercussions of the state’s possible harsh response. Alas are we not yet grown beyond that? Do we still have not the stick in our social fabric to work together to make sure our rights be served by rulers as servants of the people and not tyranny nor dynasties with their entourage of cronies?
Mind you I have grown up in this society with great respect if not deeply in strike with marching towards the day of reckoning and fool am I if while adhering to ideals of old, to still believe that it’s possible to dream that ours may become a great society albeit tiny in comparison to the mother country and empires of past history.
If it makes any consolation I sometimes tell myself to let by gones be bygones as aren’t we all merely playing a movie in the footnotes of the Truman Show. The only thing that is not happening is that the individualism I so much believe in and fought for just about cut so much into one for the selfish gain and pride to serge forward so much so that we are in the tendency of now lacking the ability to switch to one of solidarity when the time and contexts have shifted where civil society needed action again in union of individuals in social groups of common ground. And if we cannot drive on in the required shifting of our gears to work together then I am afraid that my belief in individualism together with my fear of the game of defeat become mine and yours forever more…
Last sigh for the black hole of Malevich
into thy squareness i shall dive.
Pray my friends let’s rise up and together shine
and make our revolution that of love
that our leaders should know have no higher
as we all are servants to that one and only one above
No need for anniversaries
Nor mobs Nor armies
but real guys with real hearts for real democracy shall
rule with laws and true to serve all at the eternal game of win and win all round
not one one one one one one one
thanks to Rachel and the organizers of the rally
i slept well last night feeling less shame from walking with you!!!

Originally posted on :


To my dearest friends in Hong Kong,

I am in solidarity with you now, the way you have always been in solidarity with me, supporting my human rights work throughout the years.

Thank you for believing in the value of my work, and now comes the time for me to render you my moral support from where I am.

Yours in solidarity,

Related events:

Democracy Now! Singapore in Solidarity with Hong Kong

Calling for International Support for Democracy in Hong Kong

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Concrete Dreamer:

look out for next post!:

Originally posted on Republic Of Daydreams:

Sadness is sitting on the wall and looking up and down
when its obvious that a fire is burning .
hey don’t turn away guys, where is your mind?
Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 3.09.24
1 for hongkong pray for the safety, for the humanity of authorities not to use violence, for wise leadership on both sides to quickly be identified and find an union in reconciliation through peaceful resolution.
2. Singapore shud try to help. as neutral party. why not ? Big Bros shud show they respect small countries in order to gain trust of the people of Hong Kong. I don’t like mob actions too. my friends misunderstand why i don’t participate in 6/4 events. i explained first i am not into anniversaries, even birthdays and deathdays weddings and national days. i did respond to 9/11 though cause i was caught in Lunaganga of Jeffrey Bowers beautiful estate in Sri Lanka when that happened…

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