...or silence?

November 2021

Today, speech seems relatively free — at least compared to the past. As the care, hopes and strength of our nation is placed in the hands of present and future generations, the traces of inherited memories begin to slip away. The trauma and anxiety of our collective past; the pressure of suppression as well as the obligation of silence remains omnipresent.

… or silence? seeks for commonality between the past, present and future in these shared emotions. It explores the possibilities and limitations of expression through textual responses of May 13, 1969 — the tension between censorship and self-censorship; in fictional writing and academic papers, institutional archives and oral histories.

The exhibition carries the weight of the riots beyond communities' hushes, avoidance and dismissal of the incident, re-interpreting  the May 13, 1969 riots through different voices and perspectives. The writers question existing knowledge and information in pursuit of a version of truth among the myths and distant memories. In the midst of these fragments, ...or silence? discusses the potentiality for written material to express the intergenerational concerns of trauma, pain, anxiety and discontent of these memories.

...or silence? was co-curated by myself and Rebecca Yeoh. The exhibition was funded by The British Council