Letter to the donors of Rolling On Artist Residency (ROAR)

Wishing you a smooth transition into Phase 2. I’m writing to share some of my personal motivations for initiating the Rolling On Artist Residency (ROAR), and to send the team’s gratitude that you have chosen to co-commission these works with us. Back in March, when safety measures were tightening, and I was in the middle of a participatory dance project called “Rolling On” (collaboration between Rolypoly Family and The Kueh Tutus, commissioned by NAC), the irony of the project title was not lost on me. No, I thought to myself, I don’t want the virus to “roll on.” The tagline for “Rolling On” was “what goes around, comes around,” and we surely didn’t want the virus to do that. As we continued rehearsing the work in those uncertain times, the team adapted the choreography and interactivity so as to reduce the physical contact with each other and with the audience.


We heard advice to continue making, to continue rehearsing and to continue performing as much as we could. In short, to roll on. Some of us considered calling the whole thing off. Everyone was well-meaning and we all had different reference points. What then? “Rolling On” was, from the get go, a work that looked into our interconnectedness with nature and each other, and the care that’s needed in our interactions and actions. It was also about harnessing the snow-ball effect of a good deed done, for positive change. The spread of covid-19 and the new careful and care-full behaviours needed meant this work had to confront and respond to the crisis head on. We could not continue “Rolling On” while ignoring the circumstances and concerns that covid-19 brought to the fore.


What is “the crisis?” The crisis seems like so many things. It is also the crisis of not remembering our place in nature. It is also the crisis of rolling on without regard for who else is/is not rolling with us, or who and what we might be rolling on top of, in order to get where we want to go.


Ultimately, in line with the latest safety measures then, and mutually agreed with NAC, we called it off. We stopped “Rolling On.”


Rolling On Artist Residency and the fundraising campaign that supports it is the way we’ve chosen to roll on. This residency co-commissions artists to make artworks for children, artworks that respond to the question:


“How do we take care of ourselves, each other, and our environment?”


And I am in it for some personal gains. As a parenting artist to a young child, I want more works for children (and my child) that bring attention to our interconnectedness and the need for care in our actions. Perhaps for some, the question is why – why would we roll on with care? We must because we need to take care of the guests we have invited to our country to build our homes and care for our dependents. Because we need to leverage our privilege to lift others up when we have a choice to roll on while others might not. Because climate change and environmental injustice discriminate and some of us are shielded from certain effects at the expense of others.


I imagine that with more art addressing our interconnectedness and care, the world will be a better place. And my son and his peers will also be better off in such a world. Idealistic? Sure, but I’m rolling with it anyway.

Thank you for joining us in the money snowball (fundraising campaign), helping our initial $500 grow. We are now about $1,000 shy of our campaign goal. We’re focused on supporting ila and Natalie, the 2 commissioned artists, in their artworks, while deliberating the next 2 artists and works.


The artworks by the 2 artists, ila and Natalie, have also probed some of my unconscious assumptions when it comes to care. ila reminded me that it’s ok for children to wait in Vanishing Worlds. We care for them, not by guarding them from disappointment (it’s ok that the seed takes many days to sprout or that it might not grow at all), but by being by their side as they face these situations. Natalie is slowly approaching families to interview for her project, First Connections. She is not rushing into it (it’s ok to take the time), so as to connect with diverse families and have folk songs across cultures represented in the project.


In the coming weeks, we will hear from the artists and others involved in Rolling On Artist Residency.


In the meantime, if you would like to spend some time with us this weekend (28th June 2020) – we are hosting “What Did The Snail Say To The Plant?” a gardening talk about the web of life. The garden can be a wonderful teacher about our interconnectedness and how to care. Registration is needed. Hope to see you there!


Please share these links with others:


For more information about ROAR: www.facebook.com/roaresidency


For the fundraising campaign: https://give.asia/campaign/rolling-on-artist-residency


For ila’s project updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vanishingworlds/


For Natalie’s project updates: https://nataliealexandra.wixsite.com/firstconnections


Thanks for reading!

Love and light,