Unseen: Constellations (SG)
Our two-year long collaborative art project, Unseen: Constellations, provides a platform for seven students from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School who live with visual-impairment and blindness to explore their dreams through a creative process led by artist, Alecia Neo and a team of dedicated mentors.
The project seeks to act as a bridge between sighted people and people living with visual impairment, a merging of both worlds.
8 day creative Workshop
Our students participated in an eight day creative workshop, role-playing their future selves and aspirations. They were then paired with professionals from a diverse range of expertise, based on the students' dream vocations.
2 year Mentorship Programme
In many ways, our students, artist and collaborators were collectively dreaming our world into being. In a youth-led and highly collaborative process, our students created their very own stories and embarked on a myriad of projects over time.
Each group meets regularly about two to three times a month to learn, exchange and develop their projects.
The Art Exhibition
In March 2017, we held a one month long art exhibition of the students' work at the Objectifs Gallery, where our students performed their original music on our opening night!
Through the diverse worlds of these teenagers and our collaborators, the exhibition presents and documents the intimate relationships between art and experience. It stages, the complex axes of engagement that can be reimagined between artist and subject, medium and interaction, between art and community/audience. The ultimate revelation is symbology– a constellation — of the ties that bind public and private agents in the living of lives, and of dreams.
Over two years, the myriad projects sprouted have led to: a symphonic band composition, music videos about friendship and discrimination, a short film about a visually-impaired recruit's journey in the army, coming-of-age experimental shorts about love, danger and freedom, an audio story book featuring a blind criminal investigator, a stage for motivation, and a proposal for an alternative orphanage.
The exhibition also features an ongoing documentation, which offers glimpses into the makings of the project via multiple lens. Seemingly divergent communities are formed, both concretely and temporarily.
Produced by socially-engaged arts platform Brack, this special issue coalesces relationships, conversations, debates, and experiences around our two-year long project, through personal accounts, including: Justin Lee’s post-conversation circle commentary on sustainability, Qian Wenyi and Megan Miao’s allude to image-making, Jay Koh points out the axes of power in its “participation”, while Seet Yun Teng and Mok Cui Yin offer different ways of imaging the production of socially-engaged art.
We're working hard on a documentary film about the project! We believe this will be an insightful resource for people interested in socially-engaged art and we can't wait to share this labour of love with you.
Curious to support our film or to find out how we can develop a project for you and your organisation?
Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
STUDENT PARTICIPANTS 2014-2016
“I want the public to know that I’ve passion for music and I'm not writing and singing just to raise funds for my condition. This also means that I can share my experience and life to the public and just express my views on friendship and life. Hoping that others will value what they have.” - Adelyn on her project
Adelyn dreams of being a professional singer-songwriter. The theme of friendship is ever important to Adelyn. Under the guidance of her mentor, Sarah Ismile, singer-songwriter from indie band Seyra, Adelyn has written three original songs focusing on the challenges of integration she faces in school, and how she turns to her close friends and family for support. After composing the songs, she developed story for her accompanying music videos that will be featured in her tent installation. Adelyn’s positive and child-like lyrics and stories reveal a yearning to connect and how she seeks to focus on the beauty of the world.
Songlist: Friendship, Believe in Myself, Life is Beautiful
“Sometimes I have triple-vision: I’m on the road so if I take the wrong path, I might get killed. This is what I’m creating with [the audience], a pitch black place and they have to choose a road no matter where it leads to; whether its freedom, love or danger, that will be just their fate. No matter where they go, they will end up in a danger room because I feel that danger is an element in life that cannot escape from. You have to embrace it.” - Claire on her project “Streaks of Red”
Claire dreams of being a professional musical theatre performer. For her project, she has been acting, directing and creating music to be used in three experimental films about Love, Danger and Freedom, created in collaboration with Sharda and Sean Harrison of Pink Gajah Theatre Collective. The three films reflect an aspect of Claire’s occasional lapses of triple vision and night blindness. This fierce sense of independence and seeking of her place in the world is reflected in the film when Claire says “We all started off as social outcasts, always being picked last and being victims of bully. Now however, it’s us against the world. It doesn’t matter anymore how others may treat us.”
“I want to create a happy and safe place for children. I want the audience to experience how we take care of the kids in the Jamiyah home. It should feel ]like a place where people get better. The first thing [in my ideal orphanage] will be the aikido class. The second thing will be the cat therapy. The third will be the origami. There will be white [which] means purity. Red means good luck, and yellow means brightness.” - Wei Bin on his ideas for a dream orphange
Wei Bin dreams of having his very own alternative orphanage where animal and martial arts therapy form the core of its programmes. My Special Corner founder and special needs educator, Frederick Chu has taken Weibin on as a teacher assistant, guiding him through various experiences allows Wei Bin to uncover what “helping” really means. Over the past two years, Wei Bin has baked cakes and made craft with My Special Corner students, observed an orphanage in Batam, participated in flag day with Jamiyah Children’s Home, as well as assisted in Aikido and cat assisted therapy programmes for young children. His project is an open proposal for the future, and hopes that the public can join him in this journey of discovery.
“I'm not giving up the psychology of crime and criminals so fast. I think it will be a lifelong part of me."
“In school they have certain established rules. Here [at Unseen], you can speak your mind, then we can discuss whether it's good or bad. In school, we do not actually have enough time to say what we really want to say and sit down, and discuss about it. When they say something is wrong [in school], they spend one to two minutes talking about it and then it's over. But here, we can really discuss and debate it. Some people have different ways of engaging with school, with learning." - John reflecting on the process of Unseen: Constellations
John aspires to be a criminal psychologist. An avid reader of criminal novels, John is in the midst of crafting his very own story for a murder mystery where he stars as the central protagonist, a detective who relies in senses other than sight to crack the case! He has been working with After-Care Ministry staff for the Prison Fellowship Singapore, Peter Lim, and Chief Psychologist of the Singapore Police Force, Dr. Majeed Khader. John has observed court hearings, visited the police headquarters and held public auditions to receive feedback on his script. John hopes to bring the audience into the mind of an elusive detective in his upcoming tent installation.
“I want to show the different types of people through my film.” - Kah Wee on his motivations for his film, “A Journey Through Army Life”
Kah Wee feels strongly for protecting others and building a community of support. He also has a dream is be in the army. Due to his visual impairment however, he may not be able to serve national service. His film imagines otherwise; it tells the story of Kah Wee’s hypothetical deployment in the army, complete with adventure, his trademark humour and romance. Kah Wee shares in the army spirit with Loo Bin Hui, an Officer in Training at OCS and Amal Alderoos, a former sportswoman.
“Music is my life.
Stereotyping someone based on someone else's perception is wrong as you can never know the person unless you interact with that person. There is more to a person than just looks and work done as you can never judge a book by its cover.” - Nurul reflecting on the process of Unseen: Constellations
Nurul has a passion for music and wants to be a band conductor in the future. An avid symphonic band member, she has composed two pieces of music for this exhibition. The first, Protecting Star, is dedicated to all father figures in the world. The second, A Happy and Relaxing Day, is inspired by her childhood memories from her grandfather’s kampong in Malaysia, including the joys and sensations from an unexpected flood. Nurul was recently invited to perform these pieces at a concert held by the Singapore Polytechnic Symphonic Band. She has been mentored by professional musician and composer Zaidi Sabtu-Ramli.
“Sometimes it's good to learn from your mistakes. When you fall down, you must get up. No matter whatever pressure is pushing you down, find a way to get up and move on. Don't let that affect you." - Dallon reflecting on the process of Unseen: Constellations
Dallon's biggest inspiration is Nick Vujicic. Like him, he aspires to be a motivational speaker and inspire people to overcome the obstacles in their life. For this project, he will be debuting his final speech – the last in a series of sharing sessions and conversation circles he hosted last year. These sessions will also be available to view in this installation, alongside a stage for audiences to participate and a recording of his questions for them. Dallon has been working with professional trainer Allen Lim of Conversation Circles (http://conversationcircles.sg/).
STUDENT MENTORS 2014 - 2016
Sarah Ismail is a singer‐songwriter with the indie folk-pop band SEYRA. As the vocalist of the band, she has been compared to the likes of Feist, Rachael Yamagata and Regina Spektor by media and music reviewers. They have been featured in publications such as TimeOut, Nylon, Juice and hailed by Singapore’s TODAY Newspaper as “definitely one name to watch for”. Their songs are currently receiving radio airplay and in 2013, their song ‘Jauh’ was nominated for the “Best Singapore Song” at the Malay music industry awards, ‘Anugerah Planet Muzik’. SEYRA have performed and toured in festivals locally and in cities across Japan and Delhi. Sarah was invited by the Esplanade for their “Late Night Series” concert in collaboration with other female musicians in conjunction with International Women’s Day.
Founder of consultancy firm, Conversation Circles, specialising in corporate leadership and mentoring
Founder of ConversationCircles in Singapore, Allen has been providing consulting capacity to diverse clients both corporate and not-for-profit organisations in Europe and Asia. In the past 14 years, he has worked with clients in areas of personal leadership, coaching and mentoring. Allen received his Post-Graduate Diploma in Training with University of Leicester, UK. He is married with three young children, and enjoys sports, photography and a good conversation.
PINK GAJAH FILM AND THEATRE COLLECTIVE
PINK Gajah Theatre is an intercultural non-profit theatre company that provides a creative thinking platform for communities to take action through workshops and performances
‘MAN MADE GOD’ was Pink Gajah Theatre’s debut performance at the 2013 Lit Up indie arts festival by Word Forward. Pink Gajah Theatre works closely with schools creating drama and movement programs and believes that “transformation can only happen through performance.” Pink gajah theatre is a brother sister team of Sharda Harrison and Sean Harrison.
Musician & Orchestra Composer
Zaidi enjoys an active career as a conductor, performer, and educator. Zaidi writes an average of 4 commission pieces a year and his recent highly acclaimed World Premiered rearrangement of ‘Munnaeru Vaalibaa’, a familiar local Indian Folk tune with a fresh twist, was commissioned by the Singapore Wind Symphony. He has also conducted numerous public performances of his commissioned pieces and premiered concerts throughout Europe. Zaidi’s annual calendar includes several conducting and performing engagements each year in several European destinations: Spain, France, Germany and The Netherlands, as well as at major European Conservatoires in Maastricht, Madrid, Valencia, Berlin and Paris.
After-Care Ministry staff for the Prison Fellowship Singapore
“It has always been my passion to care for the marginalized, to champion their cause in society and to be a voice for them.” – Peter Lim, After-Care Ministry Staff
Peter has been part of the Prison Fellowship Singapore, an inter-denominational fellowship of Christians that ministers to men, women and their families in Singapore’s prison system for over 8 years. He completed his Masters of Christian studies from the Biblical Graduate School of Theology in 2006. Since then, he continues to be an inspiration not only for the sighted but for the community with visual impairment as well.
DR MAJEED KHADER
Senior Consultant Psychologist and Director for Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre and concurrently Deputy Director for Police Psychological Services Division (Singapore)
A forensic psychologist by training, Dr Majeed Khader is the Director of the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Dr Majeed is also the Chief Psychologist of the Singapore Police Force. Also a trained hostage negotiator, his operational duties include being the Deputy Commander of the Crisis Negotiation Unit. He teaches part time as an Assistant Professor (Adjunct) at the Nanyang Technology University.
Project Executive, Singapore Disability Sports Council
An ex-sportsman, Amal is in charge of the Kids Inclusive Sports Programme where adaptive sports is introduced to persons with disabilities. Besides that, she also does outreach programmes for students in main stream school (MOE) to educate them on disability sports. She was appointed as a secretariat for team Singapore for the 7th ASEAN Para Games in Myanmar this year. She was also a team manager for the National Youth Development Squad of Handball Federation (Singapore) 2011- 2013 where she covered several events like Woman’s World Beach Handball Championship in Oman, SEA Thailand Beach Opens In Thailand.
LOO BIN HUI
Officer in Training in OCS
Bin Hui is currently an Officer in Training in OCS. He is really glad to have been offered the opportunity to help for Unseen where he can put his army knowledge and leadership training to good use. He hopes Unseen can bring to light the courage our VIs show in chasing their dreams, in keeping faith, in never letting their not seeing keep them from being unseen.
Founder of My Special Corner, a centre specialising in special education
Frederick Chu is the founder of My Special Corner. He is trained in early childhood and work as a teacher since 1997. Initially working with the mainstream, lower income & complex families, he has since ventured out to specialise in Mediated Learning Experiences (MLE) to work with students with special needs. He also has a Graduate Diploma in Training & Development where he runs training sessions for in-service teachers.
Our mighty heartfelt thanks to the following organisations, companies and individuals who have helped make this journey happen!
Special Thanks to:
Mr and Mrs Su
Sai Tzy Horng
10 Square @ Orchard Central
Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School
National Library Board
Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped
Singapore Repertory Theatre
*SCAPE Co. Ltd
Official Video Agency
Sproud Private Limited
Official PR Agency
Phish Communications Pte Ltd
Cat-Assisted Therapy Singapore (CATS)
Jamiyah Childrens' Home
My Special Corner
Republic Polytechnic Film Factory
Singapore Polytechnic Symphonic Band
Volunteers and Contributors
Lee E Mae
Seet Yun Teng
Sim Yi Shien
Wong Wei Lung