Luiza Proença

Proença, Luiza.jpg

A True Singapore Ghost Story

During the lecture by Jennifer Teo and Woon Tien Wei, from Post-Museum, I learned that one of the bestselling books in Singapore is The Almost Complete Collection of True Singapore Ghost Stories by Russell Lee, who has been writing about the supernatural since 1989. I also learned that in Asia most people believe in ghosts, more specifically in Singapore. Unfortunately, I couldn’t identify these ghosts during my stay, but I definitely could feel them between the cold wind coming from the air conditioning of the National Gallery and the stuffy tropical weather of the city – they were neither inside nor outside the Museum, but in the space in between, which is also the space between fiction and reality.

In the exhibitition Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History, at NTU, some artists tried to reveal Southeast Asian ghosts through film media. Although as mere projections, the films delve into past, outlining what is hidden from the official history but present in the collective memories, especially those of trauma and loss. One of the works, Fireworks (Archives), for instance, made by Apichatpong Weerasethakul in the wake of the 2014 military coup in Thailand, shows a series of images that are like fragments of dreams. The dreamlike state “allows for the unconscious to surface, creating an archive of political memory”.
Because of timezone change – a difference 11 hours from Brazil – during my period at CIMAM conference I was, somehow, in the dreamlike state. While awaked in Singapore, I was sleeping in the West (and vice-versa) and had the feeling of this double existence. I couldn’t easily recognize the ghosts of Singapore because I’m not part of its history, but, as a medium, my body could make the recognition of the waking and dream states, necessary to link the past to the present, as well to notice the West dream of the colonialized Asia. I could also invoke from my memories the original figure of the Zombie, which was introduced by a British author in a book about the History of Brazil in 1810. In his narrative, Zombie was the leader of a revolt of African slaves and native people against the settlers. From a libertarian hero the name Zombie was, in literature, slowly metamorphising into an empty body, without emotion or discernment, a kind of ghost.
I'm happy that Post-Museum and the artists from NTU’s exhibition are taking care of the region’s ghosts, and concluded this should be a fundamental role and responsability of the museums in civil society.
Addressing ghosts and censorship issues, CIMAM 2017 approached itself to the absences of art and social histories, which I consider to be of great importance. However, these absences weren’t always named, and as unspoken things, they can not be properly discussed. I feel sorry for the absence of one grantees who couldn’t join us in the conference for political reasons. As another grantee, I wished this information could have been communicated before our journeys.