We had the good fortune of connecting with Weng San Sit and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Weng San, how does your business help the community?
I am hesitant about the word ‘help’, as it sometimes creates a hierarchy between those who help and those who receive them. I believe that we each give to, and receive something valuable in the process, the sum being more than its parts. In many of my projects, I am a recipient of the generosity from the participants.
My work, as an artist and educator, seeks to use visual imagery and text to question and challenge our ingrained perspective of often marginalized or unseen communities. By countering the often inattentive, homogenous representations with the reality of complex and multi-faceted identities and experiences, I hope that for those who encounter my work, their border with ‘the other’ could be blurred, and they can see each other as individuals and not as an abstracted category.
My recent project, Routine as Repertoire (www.RoutineAsRepertoire.com) explores routines that women and non-binary folks binary incorporate into our lives as our bodies go through transformations or challenges. In this project, individuals share their diverse routines; from taking medication, to the cleaning of wheelchairs, meditation, exercises, rest, community building, and so on. Through the sharing of routines, perhaps experiences such as illnesses, disabilities, aging, motherhood, and gender transitioning can be viewed beyond the tragic or heroic polarities, and the experiences may exist and be represented in all their complexities. I have held an online exhibition and panel discussions on this project, and many have responded that the work makes them feel empowered and less alone with their own conditions. Others appreciated that they were able to see the individuality of each of the participants in the project.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Before being introduced to art, I worked a decade in a maintenance chemical company, cleaning stains and preventing rust in shipyards and other industries in Singapore. During this time, I worked with people from diverse backgrounds, from CEOs to migrant workers and began noticing the dissonance between the homogenous representations of marginalized bodies and their complex lived experiences. When I moved to the United States to study photography at the International Center of Photography and then the California Institute of the Arts, my previous experiences shaped my interest as an artist and educator to understand and challenge these visual tropes; which are often the foundation and reinforcer of deeply entrenched inequalities.
More recently, my work has been inspired by my experiences after a cancer diagnosis. ‘Call me by my true names’ is a three channel video installation that explores mindfulness practices across different belief systems and world views and its relationship to social justice, specifically in the BIPOC communities.
Routine as Repertoire which I had mentioned above, focuses on the care-works that were incorporated into the lives of women and non-binary individuals as they go through illnesses, disabilities, aging, motherhood, gender transitioning and other transformations in their bodies, allowing for these often invisible experiences to be viewed beyond the tragic or heroic polarities, and be represented in all their complexities. My hope for the coming year is to keep creating space and community through the project and building an archive of these routines.
I am currently seeking submissions from women and non-binary folks to submit their routines, in any expression or form; photographs, videos, writings, drawings, audio, etc. I hope that this archive can connect and allow more women to feel connected with others who may have an understanding of what they are going through. Here’s the link to more information about the submission https://routineasrepertoire.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think LA has some great murals, as shown in Agnas Varda’s Mur Murs, fish tacos, swimming in the ocean, and going into the markets of different cultural enclaves such as Little Bangladesh, Thai Town, etc.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My project will not be possible without the generosity of the women and non-binary folks who have shared with me and the viewers their routines. I am deeply grateful for their honest sharing of wisdom, vulnerability, strength and resourcefulness that have also shaped me as a person. And not forgetting the amazing female and non-binary writers, artists, thinkers and activists who came before me.
To all the women and non-binary folks whose bodies have gone through, or are going through transformations and challenges, and whose care work share with us wisdom, creativity, vulnerability and so much strength.