When did the Merlion
「魚尾獅是何時絕種的?」標題來自2009年的一段短訪，以第三名之姿代表新加坡到非洲參加世界小姐選美賽的琵拉・阿蘭多（Pilar Arlando）受Razor TV問答訪問，當她被問到「魚尾獅是何時絕種的？」的時候，她在遲疑很久之後回答：「1965年」。事實上，魚尾獅是個在1964年才被一個英國設計師創造出來的東西，1965則是新加坡獨立的年份。「魚尾獅是何時絕種的？」的問題一如「國家是如何開始的？」，問句中的主詞本身就是個餌，誘使答題者以自然物來指認「魚尾獅」、「國家」這樣的人造物。在將無法化約的複數濃縮為單數之後，得出了清晰主角與敵手、難局與重生，這樣的單一神話（monomyth）在流通之後，再度讓晃動的主詞得以越來越穩固。在這場講述表演中，上述的問答成為開啟關於單一歷史敘事討論的公案；同時，講述表演作為一種介於學術及藝術之間的混種，以仿機構的視覺形式展示知識——在此作中為體制化的歷史——被生產、框架的過程，也提醒觀眾以看著戲中戲的角度，後設地審視正在被傳遞的訊息。
本作獲新加坡南洋理工大學當代藝術中心支持 （NTU CCA）
The title came from a short interview in 2009, when Pilar Arlando, who represented Singapore at Miss World Pageant in South Africa, was interviewed by Razor TV. She was asked, “When did the Merlion become extinct?” She hesitated, and then answered “1965”. In fact, Merlion was designed by a British designer in 1964. And 1965 is the year of Singapore’s independence. The question “When did the Merlion become extinct?” is just like the question “How did a nation begin?”, that the subjects of the questions are baits, alluring the answerers to identify “Merlion” and “nation”, the artifacts, as natural subjects. After condensing the plurals that cannot be reduced, into singulars, the clear images of protagonists, enemies, difficulties, and rebirth are generated. Once the monomyth is circulated, the wobbling subjects are further stabilized. In the lecture performance, the questions and answers above open up the public case that discusses a single historical narrative. At the same time, lecture performance as a hybrid of academic and art, displays knowledge in a visual format that imitates institutions. It signifies the institutionalized history, the process of being produced and shaped, reminding the audiences to view the story within a story, decoding the messages sent in the lecture performance about lecture performance.
This work has been supported in part by the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, a national research centre of the Nanyang Technological University.