Every week we ask a creative, artisan, or musician to share what music gets them going from dawn to dusk. This week, experiential Singaporean visual artist Dawn Ng describes the mood lifters she periodically listens during the day.
Ng’s latest project 11 delves into affinity through verbal interaction and conversational narratives in a confessional booth. Participants are assigned to partners at random with no words exchanged beyond reading the assigned script to be within a stipulated time.
We caught up with Ng to learn the purpose of 11 and if some paths are destined to be crossed.
ESQ: What sparked 11 and how did this experiential performance piece materialize with Telok Ayer Arts Club?
DAWN NG: I was wrapping up production for my latest solo, Perfect Stranger, which just opened at Sullivan & Strumpf, Sydney. That work stemmed from a year-long project in which everyday a stranger would ask me a question and I would respond. I find the acute honesty between two people who don’t know each other moving. It suggests a universality and connection shared by all of us, which inspired this piece.
ESQ: Why the focus on verbal narratives and interactional dialogue by using a literal ‘black box’? Is it because societal is getting more visual and physical targeted?
DAWN NG: I have never stuck with one medium, format, or style for the very reason that I believe each idea, story, and concept informs the manner in which an idea comes to life, not the other way round. For 11, it was important for the words, stories and characters to bloom into entire universes unto themselves, so it was clear to me that everything else had to go dark.
ESQ: Using the energy from the rhythm and pulse of city life in a local context, what message(s) and emotions do you wish the audience to have after experiencing this performance?
DAWN NG: I hardly think about what someone would take out of my work. But the work should always make someone feel something strong enough to reflect on what it is that he or she felt.
ESQ: Finding affinity or leaving up to fate: Which option do you choose and why?
DAWN NG: It’s never one of the other, but a give and take of both. I believe the wisest people are masters at switching gears between the two.
ESQ: Tell us some interesting or memorable moments while executing 11?
DAWN NG: We have already had our first run and the team was blown away by how much range and depth the audience had in their roles as characters, and how much energy reverberated in the room at the end of it all.
ESQ: What’s next for Dawn Ng?
DAWN NG: Sitting in my studio is a body of work that I have been building over the past year, which has to do with ice. I am obsessed with freezing large blocks of colour pigments and then documenting their dissolution. I find much beauty in their ephemerality and eventual death. Solid to liquid, liquid to gas — to me they exist as icebergs of time.
“I get the most done in the mornings. Somedays I am up at 4am with an idea ricocheting in my head and I just need that release. These songs do it for me.”
1. ‘Claire De Lune’—Kamasi Washington
“There are no words. This song does not need a reason.”
2. ‘The Obvious Child’—Paul Simon
“Why deny the obvious child? That energy. Those drums.”
3. ‘Good vibrations’—The Beach Boys
“Good vibes only.”
“My brain is fried at 5pm. There are two ways about it at this point — go hard or go home.”
“This one is a classic afternoon bump.”
2. ‘NEW DORP NEW YORK’—SBTKRT feat. Ezra Koenig
“I think this always changes the tempo and colour of a room. I love it when sound is able to morph the environment.”
3. ‘Driving to Hawaii’—Summer Salt
“Because I dissolve into my car seat whenever this comes on.”
“Nights are all about sinking and settling. I actually hate the idea of standing in the middle of a club these days. Feels like a total waste of time when my day begins in a few hours again.”
1. ‘Shark Smile’—Big Thief
“There are songs that put you in a dark, warm room which you don’t want to leave. This is one of them.”
2. ‘Underwear’—The Magnetic Fields
“Puts me back in New York in my early twenties.”
3. ‘I love how you love me’—Jeff Mangum
“There is something so awkward and sweet about this number.”