After Utopia

Above is one of the five songs put together by Singapore artistes coming together in the “Sing, Love” Project as part of the SG50 Celebrations. They have put together songs that reflect their experiences and feelings about the country as a gift to the nation, and my Singapore pride is gleaming as I play the mix on replay. Watching these artistes (and others) perform last night at the Sing, Love Concert at The Coliseum in RWS, there was nothing short of admiration and pride as the crowd bobbed to the songs, all proudly Singaporean. And I suppose if this is truly a home we are proud to belong in, this is one way to be celebrating.

This one’s for the inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of watching or knowing, who are working for their Utopia. People like these Singaporean artistes.

After Utopia is an exhibition ongoing at the Singapore Art Museum, dedicated to artists’ reflections of how we have yearned and searched for what is known as a ‘Utopia’ for as long as we have been around, with the ‘gnawing sense that our world is not enough’. Despite the idea of a Utopia being an idealist and fictional one, we continue to show clear signs of hoping to come as close to it as possible, in what appears to be a never-ending pursuit. Split into segments, the exhibition explored different dimensions to the ‘Utopia’: my favourites were the exploration of ‘cities’ and of ‘micro-Utopias’.

On cities, in the words of Italo Calvino, they are like dreams, “(they) are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, everything conceals something else”. It was refreshing to think of the construct of our society as something built on our hopes, and elements of it, just reflections of our beliefs. Then, on that same note, the idea of micro-Utopias made reference to lessons from the past I found familiar to our International History lectures, here I quote,”the last century was marked by conflict on an unprecedented scale, and the arms race brought the world to the perilous brink of nuclear war. The betrayal of ideologies by political leaders, and dwindling hopes of real reform have led many to turn away from sweeping notions of changing the world or society in a grand scale, in favour of focusing on and creating smaller, more personal micro-Utopias, effecting change one small step at a time.” If society is a reflection of our aspirations and values, then it would make sense for everyone to be creating personal Utopias in the little ways possible– and I am convinced everyday by the people I meet or the places I go, that it’s already happening. This trend is real, and if we watched closely enough it is happening everywhere.

In the June holidays, I have heard and seen the enthusiastic publicity of Youth For Causes teams: Project Dreamcatcher supports the Make-a-Wish Foundation and raises funds to endorse their great work of granting wishes of children in face of life-threatening illnesses. Their upcoming concert on 12 July, Sunday 7PM at Singapore Polytechnic, features RGS Dance International and Falling Feathers. Also, The Dreamswork Project is yet another brilliant team working to raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Foundation, putting together a concert on 6 August at RELC, featuring Ah Boys to Men Cast, Mediacorp Performers and SEA Games Opening Ceremony performers. For teams of students in secondary school to be putting together such great work, I am confident of the Utopia ahead.

Thanks, you guys give me hope.

Photo 4-7-15 5 51 01 pm

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