excerpt from performance piece during metroarts freerange residency project, june 2011

This lift is one of the oldest lifts still intact in Brisbane. It is kept as a heritage “monument.” It is interesting how we try to preserve a little of our history through these old buildings, now etched between towers of concrete, steel and glass.

 

And yet, we can never really retain its original form. We have to add on these labels of care, or new interfaces of these lift buttons, or a fluorescent lamp to keep it functioning, functional.

 

In the constant rebuilding, we have to move forward with it. We have to move on.

 

I’ve been living up at Highgate hill the last 2 weeks and I’ve been walking home from the city everyday. Crossing the bridge over the river, I’ve often turned my head to look at the city behind me.

 

There is something very similar to the view as from the Singapore River – a river that also runs through the CBD, a river that is also referred to as “the life of Singapore.”

 

This is my first time in Brisbane and this Bridge is perhaps the most memorable place for me so far, perhaps because it reminds me of Home.

 

But of a home I’m not sure I understand very much of.

 

Our heritage buildings, if they haven’t been torn down, have been plastered over with bright new paint, or a high rise built behind its façade. Every five years or so, buildings along the street redevelop and imitate each other in a sort of trend, changing the landscape of what we see when we walk down the same street. These days, the trend is glass and bright lights on the front of the buildings that line the heart of town.

 

It hasn’t been more than ten years and already the malls where I used to hang out in as a teenager are no longer places I recognise. A couple of them in fact do not even exist anymore; they’ve been replaced.

 

I remember spending a lot of time in the city from a young age. At 8, I would already be taking the train on my own into the city to meet my mom for lunch or shopping or something. But the memories I have built with these places in the city have also been torn down and redeveloped along with the changes it’s gone through; they’ve been replaced.

 

In a city that has grown so much so quickly, in a city where the transport system, infrastructure and modernisation have created such a seamlessness and fluidity within it, in a city whose desire is a homogenous “uniquely Singapore,” I’m not sure if I even have an identity such as a historical building like Metro Arts that can be etched between the towers of concrete, steel and glass; a non history.

 

And yet, today, I have decided I want to live in Melbourne, more permanently, for now. But with visa complexities, and an immigration department that does not make things very easy, I find myself with no way in to Australia, and so then, no way out of Singapore, a Singapore that I am no longer quite in it already.

 

But like a city, in the constant rebuilding of our lives, we just have to find our way to move forward with it, don’t we? We just have to move on.

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