Monday, April 25, 2011

"In the Playroom" Jonathan Hobin

(CNN) -- A controversial photography exhibit called "In the Playroom" depicts young children reenacting tragic and violent historical events, including the September 11 attacks and the abuse of inmates at Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

The artist, Jonathan Hobin, says his work is an attempt to reflect on modern events that affect children and prompt dialogue about "issues in our world." Poussaint said he commended the photographs for their portrayal of events that affect children, but cautioned that the children likely "didn't understand what they were doing." - this which many have wondered.
Hobin defended his work, arguing that "media is so pervasive its almost inescapable" and the exhibit endeavored to show how these events are "part of our culture."
"We have to acknowledge it," he said.
Others aren't so sure.

As reviewed:
"These photographs, by Canadian artist Jonathan Hobin which are currently on display at Ottawa's Dale Smith Gallery, pull you in just as they're pushing you away. Although they're controversial (and sometimes disturbing), Hobin's message is a serious one - that what kids see in the media does register with them, no matter how much parents try to protect them. The images depict troubling news stories from 9/11 to the 2004 tsunami."

Its about Hurricane Katrina.
The children standing beneath storm-clouds by a backyard pool while wearing water wings that proudly bear the logo of F.E.M.A., the federal agency that failed the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

"The Twins,"

One photograph,shows two young boys staring directly into the camera in a playroom designed to look like a scene from the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York. In the scene, a boy is shown holding a toy plane, while the other child holds a toy fire engine crane in front of a building made to look like its ablaze.

“There hasn’t been a kid born after 9/11 who hasn’t seen the images,” says Hobin, who has no children of his own. “What they see gets incorporated into their play. Nobody teaches a kid how to hold a gun, but they can. The playroom is supposed to be a protected space, but everything they see follows them in.” (via Maclean’s)

“A Boo Grave,”

A hooded child on box with phony electrodes attached to his fingers in a scene that portrays an Abu Ghraib prisoner. Next to him shows a near naked boy, handcuffed beside a stuffed animal of a dog.

Jim Jones massacre " White Nights"

Almost three decades ago an unusual series of events led to the deaths of more than 900 people in the middle of a South American jungle. Though dubbed a "massacre," what transpired at Jonestown on November 18, 1978, was to some extent done willingly, making the mass suicide all the more disturbing.

The Jonestown cult (officially named the "People's Temple") was founded in 1955 by Indianapolis preacher James Warren Jones. Jones, who had no formal theological training, based his liberal ministry on a combination of religious and socialist philosophies.
A New, Isolated Community

After relocating to California in 1965, the church continued to grow in membership and began advocating their left-wing political ideals more actively. With an I.R.S. investigation and a great deal of negative press mounting against the radical church, Jones urged his congregation to join him in a new, isolated community where they could escape American capitalism—and criticism—and practice a more communal way of life.

In 1977, Jones and many of his followers relocated to Jonestown, located on a tract of land the People's Temple had purchased and begun to develop in Guyana three years earlier.

Relatives of cult members soon grew concerned and requested that the U.S. government rescue what they believed to be brainwashed victims living in concentration camp-like conditions under Jones's power.
The Visit of Congressman Ryan

In November 1978, California Congressman Leo Ryan arrived in Guyana to survey Jonestown and interview its inhabitants. After reportedly having his life threatened by a Temple member during the first day of his visit, Ryan decided to cut his trip short and return to the U.S. with some Jonestown residents who wished to leave. As they boarded their plane, a group of Jones's guards opened fire on them, killing Ryan and four others.

Some members of Ryan's party escaped, however. Upon learning this, Jones told his followers that Ryan's murder would make it impossible for their commune to continue functioning. Rather than return to the United States, the People's Temple would preserve their church by making the ultimate sacrifice: their own lives. Jones's 912 followers were given a deadly concoction of a purple drink mixed with cyanide, sedatives, and tranquilizers. Jones apparently shot himself in the head.

Boxing day

The Tsunami attack.

“People always ask me if I’m setting out to shock people, and I’m not. I think the shock comes from people being forced to acknowledge that kids experience these events, or are witness to them,” he says. “All I’m doing is reminding people that that’s the reality. If anything, I’m doing it in a more fun and playful way, albeit a little bit dark.”

Personally for me, the above few situations were close to my heart - the juxtaposition of the innocence child images and the chaos outside in the world - its just makes you want to tear.

American Idol

Slain 6-year-old JonBenetRamsey, who was found dead in the basement of her Colorado home in 1996 after being strangled.
The image portrays the girl dressed in beauty pageant attire while holding a mauve-colored scarf around her neck.

JonBenét Patricia Ramsey (August 6, 1990 – December 25, 1996) was an American child who was murdered at age 6 and attracted extensive media coverage. Such coverage often focused on her participation in child beauty pageants, her parents' affluence and various unusual aspects of the case as well as questions regarding police handling of the case. She was found dead in the basement of her parents' home in Boulder, Colorado, nearly eight hours after she was reported missing. The official cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma. The case is notable for both its longevity and the media interest it has generated. Commentators and Colorado law enforcement agencies considered the girl's parents and brother to be suspects, but they have been legally exonerated as a result of DNA evidence and declared victims of the crime, themselves. After several grand jury hearings, the case is still unsolved

Dear Leader

Hobin, however, was thinking in political terms. "Kim Jong Il is terrifying," he said. "We're at the mercy of this man!" North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il in front of a cardboard mushroom cloud- nuclear.
- For me, I was thinking - I did not know Kim Jong Il was so impacting on them.

A seal’s heart

Governor General Michaëlle Jean eating a seal’s heart.

Spring Break

— a depiction of the unsolved disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway from Aruba in 2005.

Its all for the sake of art. Come on, everyone relax.
But I guess when children is involved, its always a little sensitive.
But I love such art pieces!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Contemporary Dance Masterclass by Stefanie Batten Bland

Have not been dancing for ages! And with the chance of my cousin who teaches dance, I got to know of this Contemporary Dance Masterclass by Company Stefanie Batten Bland at Goodman Arts Centre @90 Goodman Road,Singapore 439053

On 9 April 2011 (Saturday) / 3 to 5pm
boy, was I blown away. Her techniques and style of contemporary is exactly what I have been looking for.

show reel from Stefanie Batten Bland on Vimeo.

Company Stefanie Batten Bland is a Franco-American company with dancers from both France and the USA. Stefanie founded her dance troupe, Company Stefanie Batten Bland/sbb birdlegs, out of Paris and New York in 2008.They are committed to fostering an intercontinental relationship of dance, by mixing the subtleties of Europe and American ardour. The company explores human emotional relationships and the notion of community, within a cultural, social historical and present performance context.

When she thinks about her role in the dance world, Stefanie says she does not classify herself in labels.

"We all have our personal point of view that filters into how we see and feel things. Masculine or feminine, how we are type cast or not, how we fight boxes or not. Feeling good in my skin, which is full of femininity and colors and height and power and fragility, is simply my approach. Being and breathing whole and feeling whole rather than chopping myself up into parts is what works best for me. Enough cutting is done by society, I am interested in sewing."

You can follow her on:!/sbbirdlegs

Her words to aspiring dancers and choreographers:

"You have to stay true to who you are as a person, appreciate all that has come before and celebrate it in the now. Accept the accidents as great opportunities to explore, even when they occur on stage. Breathe in and smile."

It was amazing how she used her hands to walk and legs to touch and feel

I missed her studio presentation 14th April as I heard

We're all birds flying in the garden.
We're all fishes swimming in the sea.
We're all litter waiting in the garbage.
We're all humans fighting for survival.

One of her pieces
“The Polished Hoes”

The Polished Hoes excerpt 2009 from Stefanie Batten Bland on Vimeo.


How do we support one another during times of hardship? How does one overcome his/her personal struggles and find the strength to endure?

Both dancers are forced to prostitute themselves figuratively, if not literally, falling into a cycle that becomes difficult to break. Bound in situations from which they feel unable to escape, they must carry each other through for their survival.

By interweaving elements of postmodern dance and ballet with elements of African and contemporary music (the original compositions of Jean Philippe Barrios), this piece gives testimony to the mutual support and perseverance embodied universally in human struggles.

Musical composition and arrangement: Jean Philippe Barrios (including James Brown, Odile Falcon and Lambarena-Bach)

Lighting Design: Cyril Mulon
Costumes: Claire Avias

Lighting Design:
Moh Aroussi, Cyril Mulon

Costumes: Claire Avias

Stefanie Batten Bland,
Raphaël Kaney Duverger

For more of her dances, you can log onto her vimeo videos
And her facebook profile

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Norwegian Woods

Norwegian Wood is a 1987 novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami - it has been remade into a movie via Vietnamese Director Tran Anh Hung.

This movie captures the emotions of two young people with a shared tragedy who faces the struggles of loss, sexual desires and love. The destructive nature of love, the unceasing reminders of loss and pain, and the decision between loyalty and love.

Set at the end of the 1960s, it is the story of university student Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama) and his relationship with the beautiful Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). Both of them are bonded with their mutual loss where they were struggling to deal with the suicide of Kizuki, a close male friend to Toru and a boyfriend to Naoko.

The movie sets its tone in the beginning where the recollections happen as the song by the beatles, Norwegian Woods - plays.

Where the lyrics summarizes the struggles.
I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me...
She showed me her room, isn't it good, norwegian wood?
She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair.
I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said, "It's time for bed"
She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
I told her I didn't and crawled off to sleep in the bath
And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn't it good, norwegian wood.

Toru lives with an empty meaning towards life, while Naoko feels as if some integral part of her has been permanently lost. Naoko struggles to cope with her grief, becoming increasingly unstable, all the while growing closer to Toru. They eventually sleep together, but Naoko immediately drops out of college and checks into a sanitarium. Toru remains in contact as best he can, even venturing out to the countryside to visit Naoko on occasion, but back in Tokyo he begins to fall for his bubbly, outgoing - and seemingly far more normal - classmate, Midori (Mizuhara Kiko).

Torn between his unresolved feelings towards Naoko, ( his first love, I think) and his growing fondness for Midori , what would be Toru's decision?

I like the cinematography of the film - where it helps sets the mood and the atmosphere for the scene ; the dialogues between the characters - where it also gives me time to question the reason of the conversation ; the music ( guitar) that suits the events thats about to happen.

Some of the dialogues as I remember from the movie:
Eg. Birthdays are so dumb. You become twenty. When you are still not ready for it. Its is as if there is someone pushing you from the back.

Eg. I used to think what would happen if I suddenly lost my parents.But now that it happened, I feel nothing.

Eg. What is true love? True love is when I want a tart with strawberries and he drops everything, run, and gets the tart for me. And when he returns with the tart, I say I don't want it anymore. He throws the tart out of the window. This is what I call true love. I want that person to say to me, I get it , I'm sorry - I am going to bring something else. Do you want anything?

Eg. I feel the warmth of your love and I am very very happy. If I have somehow wronged you, its not only your pain but it lives in me too.

Eg. The dead will never come alive, afterall. We have to somehow, keep living.

Eg. if you really love her can't you wait? Its probably true. Its like a game. No one lies. No one is insulted.I'm insulted. Why am I never enough for you.

Eg. Love- its impossible to explain things like that. They just happen and there's nothing you can do.

And some of the scenes which I like:
I like how the initial conversations were held in the semi-dark scene with rain pouring outside. Its always with the rain where people feel an additional tinge of sorrow and sadness - and where you tend to think more about life during rainy days.

I like the time to time touches and hugs - where you understand the thin line between friendship and lovers. And how touches is a notion of familiarity where it develops a relationship.

I like the scene where both of the characters were pacing to and fro in the meadow of grass - it evokes a sense of frustration in not understanding why things were like that - but yet as you begin talking about it , analyzing it, - it makes it all better.

After this movie, I am planning to read the book !

Monday, April 4, 2011

GYSB: Get Your Sexy Back 2011

Hello everyone!
Guess what I did last Friday on 25th March 2011?
Thanks to OMY.SG - I got invited to the GYSB Bloggers' Party at Tiger Brewery @ 459 Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim.

Get Your Sexy Back (GYSB) is Singapore’s first youth-led programme to encourage responsible drinking among young adults, and to spread the message that while partying is perfectly cool, binge-drinking is not!
As they put it
" Its not the drinking. Its how you are drinking. Moderation is the new sexy.Drink responsibly."

Drinking has been part of our life nowadays - for entertainment, for business - well practically most of the time. Well, here's the thing... you can party all you like, but when it comes to gulping down alcoholic drinks, do you know when to stop? It seems not many knows how to. Especially when many alcohol types do not get to your system till its too late......

Together with Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), "GET YOUR SEXY BACK! "

Making it ever real, APB started out the event by letting us try on the 'drinking googles' - no it does not make you be able to drink more - it has the effect of making you feel like you are drunk. I was truly dizzy - and walking in a straight line was not possible.

Mint trying it out

Yongwei trying it out

Me - not even being able to stand up

Then we jumped to the Cheers Challenge Bloggers Contest -
Score high for a chance to win a Dream Holiday, an Apple iPad or a Sony Cybershot. Instructions: All you have to do is point your mouse (which represents your ‘Cheers mug’) to the correct person pin and left click to toast and earn points. Toast to the wrong person and lose a mug. You have 5 mugs to complete the Cheers Challenge game. Become the top regional scorer for the week and win a Sony Cybershot camera. Get the highest regional score of the month and take home an Apple iPad. Score the highest in your country for the month and you qualify to be flown to Singapore for The Cheers Challenge Championship to compete against other top scorers for the grand prize of a Dream Holiday!
So we began throughout the night - trying to get a chance in winning either of the prizes - Sony Cybershot, iPads, and a dream holiday for 2 ! Amazing right? Don't worry. Its not just us. Its open to the public!

Here's some special hints for high scoring! - The characters to toast !

Betty – YES! Toast and earn +10 points
Dina – YES! Toast and earn +15 points
Tim & Tina – YES! Toast and earn +20 points
Eric – MAYBE! Toast only when not holding a barbell and earn +20 points else you’ll lose a mug
Oscar – MAYBE! Toast only when tie is removed and earn +20 points else you’ll lose a mug
Derek – NO! Toast and you lose a mug
Sally – NO! Toast and you lose a mug
Monica – NO! Toast and you lose a mug
Tony – NO! Toast and you lose a mug
Duncan- NO! Toast and you lose a mug

I was shouting " No!No!No!" each time I accidently hit the wrong ones. Such an exciting game. After a while Stage 2 is where the speed gets faster and faster and Stage 3 where icons with small differences appear! Such as ones holding a dumbbell and one without, one with a tie and one without - my eyes were gettin blurry. But its fun! - Personally I also like the questions that taught me how food helps to slow the intake of alcohol into your body system , how drinking more water can help etc etc...

(This promotion is open to all Singaporeans, permanent residents, and holders of valid employment passes or work permits, except employees of Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore) Pte Ltd (“APBS”), its associated agencies, advertising agencies, dealers, distributors, vendors, participating outlets, promoters and their relatives are not eligible to participate in this programme)

After rounds of the game ( I am so amazed how tech-savy it is!)
Made my tour around APB
What greeted my eyes:

Its never-ending entrance of display

The wonderful bar and decoration

Oh before I forget.
For fellow Bloggers! There's more for you!

Round 1
- Play the GYSB Facebook Cheers Challenge Game and try to get as high a score as you can!
- Blog about Cheers Challenge and your experience with the game.
Once your post has been completed, please post the blog post URL on the GYSB Facebook page:

After you have posted the details on the Facebook page, please also email the below details to

*Important note: Only blogs posted to GYSB.SG will qualify. This email to us is to ensure that APB can contact you if you win. Please do not post your contact details on the Facebook page!

Details to submit via email to by 1 May:
Full Name
Link to Blog entry
Top 5 entries submitted for Round 1 will receive S$100 vouchers each, while the top 10 entries will be selected to join the Bloggers' Challange Finals.

Final Round (happening in June):
Top 10 Bloggers from Round 1 will also be selected to take part in the "Bloggers' Challenge Finals", where you will play the Cheers Challenge game "Live" at Cathay Cineplex.

For the Bloggers Challenge Finals, the following prizes will be awarded:
1st prize - S$300 vouchers
2nd prize - S$200 vouchers
3rd prize - S$100 vouchers

During the Finals, you will also get to meet the regional champions of the GYSB Cheers Challenge as they face off in the regional Cheers Challenge Championship!

Exciting ain't it? I'm excited!

Contest Details:
This contest shall run from 25th March to 1st May 2011. So start racking your brains and enjoy the game!

Last but not least, Thank you and APB for the special goodie bag :)

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