2000 - Singapore

The Architecture of Escape

Updated on: 19 May 2022



Medium: Mixed Media
Dimensions: Variable

The construction of Escapes - the emergency exist, the fire escape, secret tunnel behind the wall etc posed a most beguiling context for exploration of the theme of 'encounters' and 'imagined boundaries' within the ideological spaces where individuals in a community interact. Rather than working to construct a 'livable' space, this project is a surreptitious construct of/for paranoid, claustrophobic/agoraphobic and anomalous individuals whose existence is possible only close to or within these interstitial/heterotopic spaces where the probability for escape from so-called 'livable' spaces is pre-configured.

This collaborative project between myself (fiction & sound etc) Khiew Huey Chian (installation) and Adam Collins (sound design) seeks to compromise and complicate the idea of 'escape' in the circumstance of it being an essential feature in any blueprint for a building.

Initially, we intended to seek out an actual fire escape or emergency exit within the building and intervene in the purpose and function of this architectural feature. Another possibility we considered was the construction of an escape in another site where escape is not seen to be necessary - where it might even be considered an obstruction, a kind of 'paranoid construct' within an otherwise comfortable zone. A version of this concept has become the option taken as the former plan to work within an actual fire escape is understood to pose too many logistical and safety problems.

The work is an interdisciplinary intervention with the concepts behind the architecture of escape through poetry/fiction recorded into speech/sound and an actual construction-installation of an 'alternate route' on the main stairway leading down into The Necessary Stage's space. The construction will be made of white lycra stretched over a wooden structure. Eight speakers will be mounted along the length of the wall behind the lycra at ear-level. Through these speakers, the recorded performance text will be heard. Four different tracks will be played over the four CD players - Whispered, sung, voice-synthesized. The text lingers around ideas of descent, delay, desire-to-linger operating as friction to the simultaneous desire-to-escape - a 'delay system' of seduction and suggestion.

The white space within will be lit with pink fluorescent lights which will create a surreal, deceptively calming, anxiety-deferring evironment.

We hope the sensory experience within the constructed environment will raise questions on the notions of fear and paranoia, safety and reguse, exile and marginality - and of cours, 'escape' - Susie Lingham 


Susie Lingham
Khieu Huey Chian
Adam Collins
Curatorial Team
Lucy Davis
Lee Weng Choy
Susie Lingham
Daniel Wong
Alvin Tan
Chong Tze Chien
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Project Serial Number: 200015b