These Broken Donkey Songs
ONE meddled with your soul
another sailed round you like a seal
and third as always was there beside yet not in sight
so ring them if not she will leave never to come here again
string them if not she will leave never to steer round clear again
sing them if not she will leave never to come near dear again
like a throne without a bone to stone
nor a screw to drew them out these brews the dodgers of curfew
if only you knew if only you knew if only you knew how the view to deal
few dew zeal in to reeling into real thrill on the periphery of the robin’s BILL
give give give give giveeeeeee give give give give giveeeeeee give give give give giveeeeeee
he teaches health wealth i side-stepped with nonwit humor.
played with thoughts on darkness sadness death badness in out of red black drained gain bane hades pain
that’s when i gave away my madness in exchange for my zack of gads bags of SAD AXES DANCES
© PSALMS ARMS PLANS!!!
Ω PALS ASSES POLLS!!!
º PALMS ART POO!
∞ POT AUGUST PASSES
∑ POTATOES AROUND POUND
I had the honour of participating in “Intervene! Interrupt! Rethinking Art as Social Practice”, a symposium held in 2008 hosted by University of California Santa Cruz. The grand finale of the event was a green wedding ceremony held in the woods with a simple stage that was just simply beautiful in the context of the whole idea in itself. It was the wonderful wedding of three female what shall i call them “entities” for now. Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle were tying the knot with their lover, Mother Earth! After the great turnout of friends and well-wishers giving their blessings by way of performances on a stage at the edge of the campus forest. It was certainly an unforgettable event that was so bizarre that I felt as if I had walked into a dream. I was still reeling from the the buzz of attending the performance, a ceremonial celebration that not only spoke up for the individual rights to be different but also at the same time extended into an eco-consciousness by also marrying Mother Earth. As we were moving on to the reception and getting into queue for our food, I got distracted by seeing that a small crowd was surrounding Annie Sprinkle to congratulate her personally and was debating with myself whether to do it too as I’m a fan of her too. Instead I bumped into Elizabeth Stephens, and I felt it was equally “alright!” to congratulate her on behalf of the newly weds. I added the comment that I was from Singapore and I cannot imagine such a manifestation can ever happen knowing how conservative we are. Elizabeth gave me a smile of confidence and with professorial tone of voice said to me: “you have to fight for your rights!”. I was dumbfounded as in my heart I was thinking to myself “Man you don’t how tough it is over there” as I ran through an internal flashback on those years of funding proscription against performance, and the licensing headaches we are subjected to and various battles against censorship we have been doing.
Altar for Changes
I have been making a series of what I call “romantic self-portraits”. I started drawing them as a response to my erased self-portraits in my solo exhibition “Lucid Dreams in the Reverie of the Real”. The erased self portraits at the same time re-visits the erasure of Willem de Kooning’s drawing by Robert Rauschenberg, were somewhat a tongue in cheek commentary of our society’s tendency to suppress individuality in order to prioritize behavior as a social group.
When I was approached to submit a work for the “Modern Love”, I was toying with the idea of a self-portrait as a rickshaw man. It was based on a charming old photograph image that a friend sent to me. We have been dreaming of doing a video project together of a day in the life of a rickshaw or trishaw man. And he has been sending me images of rickshaw and trishaw from time to time. So the romance of drawing my own self-portrait as a strong man with strong legs pushing the rickshaw of a gay couple dressed as if they were newly weds provided my chance to convey a message that there are still various issues in our society to be addressed.
As we face next year to be the 50th year as an independent nation state there is anticipation for celebration. In contrast to the triumphant mood of celebration the “Altar for Changes” reminds us of the yet to be addressed outstanding issues in our society today that we should consider calling out for change.
or how to avoid a confrontation without really trying…
I am very pleased with myself today for due to my illness, and my sweet innocence, I was able to avoid a confrontation with the prince. You see I do believe in negotiation with the powers that be and that is why I am where I am today. But it’s not a comfort zone: BELIEVE me. However my heart is in an emotional mess if you want to know more I’m afraid I do have limitations on my privacy although oh some of the people think I am BBC on everything in my life. But you are wrong. The thing is, I have said this many times before and here again I know well that fame is an occupational hazard for artists and the better you get the more hazardous it grows. I am very honest about that and I think the people who are close to me know what I am talking about. But when one has emotionally unsettled heart one is hard put to confront larger responsibilities whereby I for one would not back away from normally but this time round please excuse me. I do have things I wanted to say and in fact oh it is much too much for if you only knew how I am feeling and why I gave up my family name for TANG yes its an artist’s name on facebook but you know if you know. Nay I would have to…. stay cool…like a flower? Ahem! uumph…
Anyway it was his first date and it is looking quite promising for better things to come. But tell you what i think, like all first dates, if you’re a smart gal you don’t even try to touch right? Ok maybe a little bit, just for test test ho ho ho!
At the most you listen to what he is saying and you watch his next move. Cause you know these days we gals got to be taking the worst case scenario first of all: ” ALL MEN ARE BASTARDS! ” AND especially when your date had not even gave you a glance for 49 long years and now its good isn’t it. But too good if you ask me. So let’s say we done it but what’s next? After first date?
I tell you what I did. I went home. But it was not easy to decide cause I also got pains on my body and i forgot my pain killers. So I went home …and I sang my songs for my friends and we had a good time for fun. I haven’t had this fun for long time. But here, my songs are real. If musically it may all sound the same but like my friend Roi Vaara, from Finland who incidentally play a real good blues riffs of a wider variety of repertoir than me, once commented,”hey your songs all sound the same but if that is your concept its ok, but ….” and I laughed and said “Hell! It’s the Anyhow Blues ! Man whadayaa expect?”
’cause my time is precious and I have pains on my body i need to deal with so as far as I am concerned i got no time for first dates scenario.And i take art seriously OK! Let me know if we get to the negotiation table cause there I have a black book with a list of things I would like to present to his excellency.
I have no time for cheap first dates. Let’s talk. Seriously. I have a 15 years old son and I realized how bad a father i have been and why my battle gets tougher and how Parkinsons takes its toll on me. And how this Godforsaken country still give peanuts to the ones they know not but are so treasured by more enlightened socieity. But if you still give me that PAPA thing to me after neglect of 49 years?.sigh…aiyah….I rest my case. and what i got. I only put into my little black book as if it really matters. Cause you know we all need a miracle sometimes! Even pigs sometimes have tears when they see pearls! (maybe it was in my dreams) and carry on with sunflowers in the rain…
gal good night, don’t let the bed bugs bite!
We been evicted from this house. Sad.
THIS IS NOT A JOKE.
“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” 1997
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…
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.
“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!
I AM SORRY FOR MY COUNTRY WHO LED ME TO SWEAR MY ALLEGIANCE TO IDEALS THAT FAILED IN UPHOLDING WHAT WE SAID WE WANTED.
I AM SORRY FOR MY COUNTRY WHO LED THE SURROUNDING DEVELOPING COUNTRIES INTO BELIEVING THAT WE HAVE A SHINING PATH TOWARDS A GLORIFIED FUTURE THAT COULD BE AN SHINING EXAMPLE FOR THEM TO FOLLOW SUIT AND EMULATE.
I AM SORRY FOR MY COUNTRY WHO GAVE THE WORLD A CHANCE TO BELIEVE THAT SMALL CAN BE BEAUTIFUL AND YET DID NOT HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY IT WHEN OTHER SMALL NATIONS STOOD UP AGAINST BIG BROTHER BULLIES.
I AM SORRY AND I AM ASHAMED NOT OF MY SELF BUT MY COUNTRY AND IT TOOK AWAY MY NAME FOR I RATHER HAVE ONE I GAVE ME CAUSE THEY ALREADY TOOK AWAY THE TASTE AND THE REASON, IF NOT THE SEASON THAT USED TO BE MINE FOR KEEPS.
I AM SORRY
I AM SORRY
I STILL HAVE A CLEAR FACE WHEN I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING
BUT I AM NOT SO SURE I GOT A VOICE THAT CAN STILL SING….
“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….