Archiving Cane (2012) – Installation
7 to 16 December, 2012
The Substation Gallery, Singapore
“In privileging an understanding of performance as a refusal to remain, do we ignore other ways of knowing, other modes of remembering, that might be situated precisely in the ways in which performance remains, but remains differently?” – Rebecca Schneider, Archives Performance Remains
On 1 January 1994, Singaporean artist Josef Ng performed Brother Cane, a performance that triggered a ten-year restriction for the licensing and funding of performance art in Singapore. On 19 February 2012, Loo Zihan presented six accounts of Josef Ng’s performance in a performance titled Cane at The Substation Theatre. Archiving Cane is an installation and durational performance that consolidates and present performance remains and documentation from the re-enactments of Josef Ng’s work by Loo Zihan.
The exhibition space includes 12 selected performance remains from various interpretations and reenactments of Josef Ng's performances. The artist was present throughout the duration of the exhibition to provide context on the significance and function of each object displayed. Visitors were encouraged to interact with these performance remains.
The exhibition also included a resource library, where documents from Zihan's research of periphery events around Cane were displayed, this included programmes, newspaper articles, academic theses, critical writing and license application forms among others. Access was also made available to a Facebook page which details in chronology digital documents and online articles referring to Zihan's re-enactment and Josef Ng's performance.
Archiving Cane was given a Restricted (21) rating by the Media Development Authority of Singapore and it was a requirement by the licensing authority to inspect and verify that all visitors were above the age of 21. The artist decided to choreograph this gesture of inspection into an integral part of the exhibition experience.
All visitors were given an edition folio of critical texts assembled on site and the folio of each edition was personalised with a photocopy of the visitor's identification card. A copy of each visitor's identification (with sensitive personal information redacted) was included as part of the display in the gallery space with their consent. Over the duration of the exhibition, this display grew to serve as a record of attendees, transforming this licensing requirement into part of the artwork.