Snow introduced me to someone as I came back from my work break. We very briefly talked to confirm that I previously worked in Kakiseni, and then

  • Me: What do you do?
  • HY: I flip books.
  • Me: Oh, okay. *walks back to desk to work*
  • Snow: You’re done with small talk? That was so small a talk…
  • Me: That was a lot of talk for me.

My mind is a cloud at work today. Possibly because I sat through two long sessions of electrocuting my butt in physiotherapy. Or because I’ve been editing numerous complicated multilingual citations in some texts.

I paid for petrol earlier today, and nearly drove off without filling up the tank. It’s not the best day to be an editor.

On the plus side, I’ve been watching the setup of Between States, an exhibition that uses the haze crisis as a starting point of examining Southeast Asia and its identity*It has little robots, and a copy of the ASEAN Agreement of Transboundary Haze Pollution**, moving pixels, medical records, and embroidered jackets — it’s almost like a collection of curios, and I’m keen on it. Also not often I get to see such an interesting exhibition with only four(?) works in a commercial gallery space. Having funding is always nice.

Don’t think I’ll be able to see the exhibition properly until after the opening, which is always the worst time to see a show. It is, however, the best time to get free wine and curry puffs.

Sze (who is curating this) mentioned the ideas behind this project quite a while back, which was difficult to visualise. I’m glad to have an opportunity to see the finalised exhibition (as in, it’s in Malaysia), especially given my personal interest in regional politics regarding the haze. I’ve been disheartened by the larger curator programme Sze is currently enrolled in (which resulted in this exhibition) after Sabahan art collective Pangrok Sulap was censored in Escape from The Sea, but I have faith in Sze’s personal politics and her trajectory as a curator. Can’t say this about a lot of people. Certainly can’t say that about some of the people I see wandering around in the gallery now, who I cannot help but see as the apologist faces of censorship***.

Hiding in the office and working now. Might duck out for some free booze later on, like a proper arts scene person. In the meantime, trudging through my deadlines as my own personal response to the haze in my mind.

**It bugs me that there’s nothing in the Agreement about disclosing haze information to citizens in ASEAN.
***in other words, 吃死猫, but these are the faces I recognise — even that meaning has changed. Where once I saw Borneo beloved and (vital/rare) allies, now I see them as compromised compromises.