Jevon Chandra is a transdisciplinary artist and designer. Through time and context-bound installations and interventions, his works estimate the push and pull between notions of doubt and belief, as present in acts of love, hope, and faith. He is currently an active member of Singapore-based socially-engaged art collective Brack. Across collaborative projects in the contemporary and performing arts, he works towards conceiving his practice as a long-term endeavour that values decency, honesty, and possibility.As a lead/co-lead artist, his projects have been presented at platforms such as Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) (2022), Leipzig International Art Programme (Germany, 2022), Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) (2021), Singapore Art Week (2021), Fujinoyama Biennale (Japan, 2020), Incheon Art Platform (South Korea, 2019), Esplanade Flipside Festival (2019), Understanding Risk Conference 2019 (Chiang Mai), The Substation (2018), and OXO Tower Wharf (London, 2017).As a collaborator in the performing and media arts, recent credits include multimedia and sound design for Between 5 Cows and the Deep Blue Sea... (2022) for Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam Festival, multimedia design for Kepaten Obor – Igniting a Weathered Torch (2022) for Esplanade’s Pesta Raya Festival, _ Can Change (2021) with The Necessary Stage, and (un)becoming (2021) at T:>Works’ N.O.W. Festival. Recent sound design credits include An Impression (2021) with T.H.E. Dance Company, NO FLASH (2021), an audio-fiction podcast for National Gallery Singapore (NGS).
Kei Franklin is a facilitator, coach, organiser, and artist. Central to her practice is the belief that the power dynamics that sustain broad systems of injustice are reflected in our relational lives. Any meaningful change, therefore, must involve intervention in the inter- and intra-personal realm.
Kei’s creative practice takes on various forms - from performance to music to the written word. In her creative work Kei is currently exploring: the plurality of truth in the context of conflict; the futile quest for purity in a compromised world; humour as a tool for resistance; and the conditions that nurture political conscientisation. She does her best to involve food whenever possible. Kei is a co-lead and editor-in-chief of Brack, a Singapore-based art collective and platform for socially-engaged art.
Kei’s creative works have been presented at platforms such as: Singapore International Festival of the Arts (2021), Passage Festival (Denmark, 2020), T:>Works N.O.W. Festival (Singapore, 2020), Incheon Art Platform (South Korea, 2019), Understanding Risk (Un)Conference (Chiang Mai, 2019), National Gallery Singapore (2019), Asia Dive Expo (Singapore, 2019), Goodman Arts Centre (Singapore, 2014), Singapore Flamenco Festival (2014), and Grahamstown National Arts Festival (South Africa, 2012 / 2013). She was an artist-in-resident at the Live Art Development Agency (London, 2020) and Incheon Art Platform (South Korea, 2019). She is currently an artist-in-resident with Theater No Theater (formerly the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski).
Kei is a certified life coach and facilitates Family Constellations among other somatic and systemic coaching modalities. She is embedded in and sustained by a web of kin who are usually located in Singapore, the UK, Eswatini, and various parts of the USA. All that she does emerges from processes of dialogue with friends.
Intentions & Summary of Residency
Our original intention as artist-researchers was to take the first steps into an exploration of Nikoi Island’s situatedness in the Riau Archipelago — an area touched by climate change and colonial, militaristic, and imperial forces — while starting from the self as lens and material.
For Kei, this meant mapping (historical and contemporary) imprints of the US empire — militaristically, economically, and culturally — on the Riau Archipelago and Indonesia more broadly. This process was enabled by invaluable texts like The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins, which tells the stunning and oft-buried history of how the USA supported and engineered mass murder in Indonesia (and elsewhere) as part of a fanatical anti-communist crusade to gain control over and extract capital from newly-independent nations in the Third World.
For Jevon, this meant returning to childhood memories of growing up in Jakarta, living through floods and anti-Chinese riots, alongside other forms of cultural oppression under the Suharto dictatorial regime – all of which contributed to his family’s decision to move to Singapore. We explored how these recent, lived experiences reflect downstream effects of Indonesia’s entangled histories with CIA, Dutch colonialism, and regional empires before.
We both read the entirety of The Jakarta Method during this residency along with other books and essays on the history of the Riau Islands and SIJORI. We watched various documentaries such as “The Look of Silence” and several by Channels NewsAsia featuring relevant contemporary and historical issues in Indonesia and the Riau Archipelago more broadly. These explorations birthed several workshops that we hosted for guests and staff of Nikoi Island throughout our residency. We hosted two workshops with guests and three with staff, including one with staff at Kebun Reja – Nikoi Island’s permaculture farm located on Bintan Island.
The workshops had two distinct but connected components:
1) We invited participants to use drawing and writing to explore how environmental forces sculpt and shape our shifting notions of home. We asked participants to think of times when the environment impacted their home in some way. “For example, can you remember a time when your house got flooded? Or when strong winds blew trees down? Were there times when the well ran out of water? Or smoke from nearby fires made it difficult to stay home?” Once they had a memory in mind, we asked them to draw an image to represent their memory. We then asked them to write a brief description of the memory on the back of their image, along with their name, the date of their memory, and where it took place. The participants engaged deeply with this exercise, often getting lost in the process of drawing their memories, only to surface many minutes later eager to speak about the memory with their fellow participants. There was a rich exchange of memories and experiences both during the workshops and after, as participants looked at the images and stories of other previous / fellow participants.
2) In the second part of the workshop, we invited participants to move around in space in order to map out the places that were significant to forming their identities. We asked them a series of questions (where do you work? where do you live? where were you born? where do your ancestors come from?) and asked them to represent their answers in physical space, using a coconut to represent Nikoi Island, and a table of coral and shells to indicate North. Once they assumed their position in each place, we asked them to spontaneously create a sculpture with their bodies to represent that place. We then asked them to speak about their embodied experiences of ‘being’ each place and got some rich responses like: “My body feels crowded because Medan is crowded” / “Home is where I sleep so my body feels very sleepy” / “My shoulders are tense because Singapore is where I work” / “My body feels stiff and uncomfortable because I imagine my ancestors in Germany being stern and not having very much fun”.
We spent two memorable weeks asking questions, reading, and having rich conversations (with staff, guests, and each other) about how broad power dynamics and forces (historical, geopolitical, economic, and environmental) impinge elements within the scale of the intimate — the daily, the relational, the embodied.
Tomorrow’s Islands is an performance-installation about movement, connection, and attention. Using land reclamation as a subject, the work treats the migration and compaction of sand as a metaphor for the displacement and reconstitution of community, reflecting on the potential and challenges of communality amidst congregation. How, if at all, does physical proximity translate into emotional connection? How does a place become a home? When belonging and togetherness is tough, what possibilities for solitude remain? Collaborators: Kei Franklin, Jungsuh Sue Lim Supported by: Incheon Foundation Art and Culture (IFAC) Young Artist Grant Presented at: Incheon Art Platform, South Korea
What Comes After (2019) is a participatory-performance created for Understanding Risk Field Lab 2019, an arts and technology un-conference on disaster risk management in Chiang Mai. Invited by co-organiser NTU Earth Observatory Lab, I created a work building off scientific and ethnographic material gathered by other researchers. Made with two other artists, the final work unfolded in two parts: 1) a communal, guided walk with an audio track, done blindfolded, followed by 2) a short workshop on rebuilding a community post-crisis. Collaborators: Kei Franklin, Jungsuh Sue Lim Image and footage credits: Rachel Siao Exhibited in: Chiang Mai Urban Flooding Field Lab, an arts and technology un-conference exploring design practices in disaster risk management.