When Did the Merlion Become Extinct?
—The Narrative to Succeed in the 21st Century
Lecture performance(1HR), video installation, documents
Successology is the study that specifically focuses on success and its attainment through accessible vital skills and processes such as self-management. It has been widely popular in America and Europe since the early 20th century. After being introduced to Asia, books about successology have also become sought-after products in the book market in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the main target audience of successology is those who works in marketing or business management, we can see that—coinciding with the sudden growth of its popularity and the economic boom—“personal successology” and “national successology” share similarities not only in the rigid definition of “success” but also in their rhetorics. Under the influence of such rhetorics, procedural “democracy” outweighs other substantive endeavors and pursuits during democratization. By questioning how personal and collective values are constructed, the work attempts to answer the salient question of why democracy in Asia hasn’t completely come to fruition yet.
During the performance, the artist delivers a lecture in a way reminiscent of a successology lecturer, and defines the successology needed in the 21st century as the “National Narrative to Succeed.” Four interlinked principles to narrate success are stressed: simple stories, affective stories, infectious stories, and democratic stories, with Four Asian Tigers as examples. Instead of drawing upon literature for the foundation of arguments, the lecture is based on “rational and objective” studies like mythological studies, economics, psychology, and political science. The video documentation of the performance is later edited and uploaded to YouTube with a fake account created for the project. Moreover, the artist buys ads to allow the work to interfere with the realm of the internet like any other video recording of a lecture on successology. In such a sense, the video documentation is more like an incident than a mere documentation in terms of its circulation in the media.
Director: CHANG Wen-Hsuan
Playwright: CHANG Wen-Hsuan
Dramaturgy: HO Hsiang-Yi
Lighting Coordinator: CHOU Ya-Chuan
Lighting Technician: Tina WANG, CHEN Li-Ting
Lighting Equipment Supplied by Blackrice Studio
Video Recording and Post-production: Onez Production
This work has been supported in part by the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and commissioned by Gwangju Biennale Foundation on the occasion of MaytoDay.