2004 - Ask Not
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Second-Generation Artists 1: Chong Tze Chien

Tze Chien: The participants of BrainStorm (what’s that in your head?), which Lift was part of, were given free rein in where we wanted to stage our works. The production manager brought me on a survey of the Museum’s premise about four months before the production. I was looking for a challenging space to work with, and when I saw the lift, I thought staging a play inside would be rather exciting. […]

The lift itself was run-down, cranky and loud. Even though it was big enough to fit a car inside, it lent itself to a very ominous and claustrophobic atmosphere. When its double-layered doors were shut, one felt as though one was sealed in a tomb. Immediately the theme of entrapment surfaced. The location of the lift also suggested something marginalised, existing at the underbelly of gloss that permeates the rest of the Museum and its art galleries. I thought of a cabaret and its performers, and how they are artists working with an art form that requires no less discipline and craft than other art forms, but is deemed as fluff entertainment like clowns in a circus, not taken seriously. But from that, it also earns its characteristics of irrelevance, satiric stance and acerbic humour. But I don’t think any curator in any museum in the world would invite a cabaret act into their premises. Refused entry, rejected and hidden. I thought of a transvestite: physically trapped; an illegal immigrant: geographically bound; and an individual: spiritually dislocated—fighting to get out of the country. With each character, the theme of entrapment was reflected and fleshed out. And Lift My Mind was born.