I am LGB (2016) - Performance
Commissioned by Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA)
18, 19, 20 August 2016
7pm to 11pm
72-13, Theatreworks Singapore
Who am I? Am I my name? My Body? My Sex? My History? What State do I represent? Should I believe in the State? Perhaps I am propaganda for a State that does not yet exist. Or perhaps I am here to expropriate what can never be mine. Perhaps I should return to my home. Where is that? Where my father’s ashes were released, swallowed by the fish he fed every day? I ate that fish.
You are a performance artist. It is the 24th of January 1994. You teach contemporary art at a public university. One day, you receive an anonymous letter from your students. The letter calls for a boycott of your classes.
“If we are taught by him next year, we will not go to his classes. His teaching is too political and is about sensitive issues. He teaches performance art, which is now forbidden in Singapore, and we are quite right not to go.”
You are LGB. LGB is Lan Gen Bah. You were born in 1948. You are a Marxist. A scientist. An ideologue. A member of the government. A citizen of the State. You are Song Liling. You are Cheng Dieyi. You are Ray Langenbach. You are Loo Zihan. You are Lee Mun Wai. You are Shawn Chua Ming Ren. You are Bani Haykal. You are State power. An individual. An ISA (Ideological State Apparatus). A KPI (Key Performance Indicator). You are LGB, without the T. You are a meme. Propaganda. You are not yours alone; you are an idea demanding its own acceptance.
Accounts of I am LGB:
"I am LGB's tagline is 'between solitude and solidarity', and it's a skin-flaying experiment where the audience is pitted against itself. Just as the boundary between Lan Gen Bah and Langenbach's identity begins to blur, so do our own identities as audience members – it grows increasingly difficult to distinguish between our agency as an audience and being co-opted into this experiment." - Corrie Tan
"The evening parallels the school system in Singapore and the rest of Asia, where uniformity, obedience and good grades are emphasised. Such qualities get one through different levels but what is the point of it all? And is escaping the room truly a real escape if that means missing out on an eventual payoff from the system? I am LGB encourages participants to determine their own answers. It is a stand-out example of what performance art can accomplish if allowed scope." - Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times, 'I am LGB is real escape game from Singapore'
"What I am LGB really is, is a giddying tentacular monster of relational-performance art in its own right. It trawls through a tremendous heap of themes, of which identity-as-drag, the ethics of political activism and socialisation apropos of cognitive intelligence are only a sample. It cannot be suppressed in writing and criticism." - Marcus Yee
"I am LGB works on several complex levels. But one of its most striking effects is making you witness how automatically selfish and competitive people become when they are ranked against each other according to test scores, physical abilities, verbal wit, and so on... It makes you wonder if these expressions of competitiveness are born out of pure human instinct or a distinct Singaporean predilection fostered by the system." - Helmi Yusof, The Business Times, 'Radically provocative encounters'
"Perhaps it was even, in a sense, moving. In spite of its cerebrality, it brought audience members together unexpectedly with friends and strangers, staring into one another’s eyes and grading one another’s test sheets, sharing our thoughts and sorrows, voting for our top (wo)man to be the next LGB… The LGB Society of Mind may be fictional, but it does create a community of sorts. A gathering of friends, all awake in the iron room." - Ng Yi-Sheng
I am LGB was supported by the Artist-in-Residence programme at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and the Artist-in-Residence programme at The Substation, Singapore
Created in collaboration with Ray Langenbach, Shawn Chua Ming Ren, Lee Mun Wai, Bani Haykal, Kelvin Chew, Chan Silei, TRIPPLE
Facilitated by Anca Rujoiu, Dan Koh, Elvis Wang, Kiran Kumar, Lim Jue Hao Isaac, Megan Miao, Mia Tiara Nurhidayah, Paul Wong, Sneha Indrajit, Tan Shao Han
Produced by Grace Low
Lighting by Alberta Wileo
Stage Managed by Chee Mei Rong and assisted by Ang Liyi Marilyn, Timothy Koh