In his final piece for GRC, Ng Yi-Sheng talks Covid and community. Writing from the midst of the circuit breaker, he examines the unraveling of this pandemic, and how it has seen once-familar social institutions shatter—in particular, those of the queer community, and the impact of isolation and distancing on a “culture of desire”. In a strange circling back to digital queer communities of the 90s, Yi-Sheng offers suggestions of cultured company, vigorous self-care, solidarity, and hope, in spaces of community online.
GRC sensorialist Alfonse Chiu digs deep into the fleshy surface of caresses—from carnal to architectural, in this fifth instalment on sensing the city. Invoking a city of tactical tactility and the history experiential erosion, Alfonse traverses the urban politics of haptic allowances to ask: What do places and spaces permit us to feel? Do we feel because of, or in spite of?
In her final piece for GRC, Reena Devi delves into the spaces of the imaginative, the creative, and—as is inevitably the case for any writer, the personal. Spanning her experiences and stumbling (writer’s) blocks in the past eight months, she takes us through her creative odyssey and arrives at a revelation of the unknown.
As her final piece in a series of unique cultural experiences in Singapore, GRC reviewer Akanksha Raja previews yet another art walk. Laying bare the difficulties faced by artists digging for heritage amidst an increasingly gentrified and complexly interlayed city, she offers a close reading of each artist’s intimate relationship with the materiality of the works, and the stories with which they’re embedded.
In his fifth piece for GRC, Ng Yi-Sheng harks back to the architecture/urban planning canon with a review of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities—an apt text for our times, which becomes all the more so poignant in its assertion of the very essential human need for communal spaces, and for community, and how it is in these “village squares” that the spirit of a city really resides.
In her fifth piece for GRC, Reena Devi enters spaces alter to the city; beginning with contemporaneity’s aestheticisation of the rural in the latest anti-blockbuster-blockbuster Guggenheim offering, she traverses the rural into the nautical, and finally the spiritual. Holding close the notion that there are diverse spaces to plumbed, even amidst the ones that seem so familiar to our everyday.
Proust had his madeleine and tea, Chiu, his curry. In his fourth instalment on sensing the city, Alfonse Chiu waxes olfactorical on powerful smells, and the power of smell—or a lack thereof. Sweeping from medieval formulae of soap + bath = wealth, to the more subtle and insidious implications of segregation, class, discrimination, and xenophobia, he posits how this underrated sense, and the ways in which it connects us with the material world, is one ingrained molecularly with our social psyches.
In her fifth piece for GRC, Akanksha Raja reviews an entirely immersive and occasionally discombobulating experience, Secretive Thing 215, by role-playing theatre company Lemon & Koko. Like in the game itself, one is transported to a space of simultaneous choice and control, where suspension of belief happens only insofar as the irony of allowing yourself to be manipulated; perhaps a metaphor or just a game, the experience posits how space and environmental experiments can induce behaviours and anxieties…Love is Blind, anyone?
In his fourth piece for GRC, Ng Yi-Sheng talks of harrowing times. From the Coronavirus to SARS to AIDS, from the personal to the societal, he remembers states of fear and—on occasion, of solidarity and looking after for one’s own. Finally, offering a clarion call to empathy and vitality, he reminds us to remember to live, with heart and art—even amidst face masks and kiasu.
In his third piece for GRC, Sharaad Kuttan reviews the famed Jaipur Lit Fest, to posit a space in which creativity, culture, and commentary can reside—all to the backdrop of contemporary India’s polarised political landscape. What are the ethical complicities to attending such an event? How does one navigate cultural awareness in an age of woke capitalism? Sharaad shares his experience.