Since 2013, “Both Sides, Now” has sought to normalise end-of-life conversations, by creating artistic projects and engaging Singaporeans at public locations such as hospitals, town centres, senior homes and HDB void decks. Last year, in 2021, the project researched and engaged the Malay community, culminating in the “Kata-Kata Kita” variety show. And behind this endeavour was a multi-disciplinary team of creatives and researchers, three of whom are with us today. With artistic director Kok Heng Leun, lead artist Adib Kosnan, and research team member Siti Hazirah Bte Mohamad, we chat about the genesis of “Both Sides, Now”, the experience of staging the “Kata-Kata Kita” variety show, and the project’s upcoming public engagement programme in Bedok this year.
These are the discussion prompts and notes from the August 2021 book club, when we discussed Alfian Sa’at’s “Malay Sketches”.
Although the journal article was ostensibly focused on Singaporean perceptions of the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) – and how this housing policy may influence the decisions of home-owners when choosing a flat – the ST article zoomed in on the preferences of home-owners to not live close to HDB public rental blocks (ST, Mar. 22). It cited the lead researcher, Associate Professor Leong Chan-Hoong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, who concluded: “After price and location, proximity to public rental flats would be the variable that discourages a person from buying a unit”.
Given the challenges associated with obtaining complete data of the socio-economic diversity of Singapore’s top schools, Chua et al.’s (2019) research strategy of using 40 years of junior college (JC) yearbooks (1971 to 2010) as data – to study the influence of neighbourhoods, gender, and ethnicity on elite school enrolment – is therefore a very interesting workaround.