On Display

lee mun wai

My solo dance work attempts to be a choreography of constant becoming. It wants to be a work in which the present is created by the meetings of and shifts between images, affective states, situations and relations. Through an improvisation practice that looks at my relationship with my immediate surrounding, I construct situations to bring the three basic entities of the performer, the audience and objects into an active and dynamic negotiation. As such, subjectivities and relational politics can be destabilised, and re-proposed.

Working during the coronavirus lockdown has been an exercise in re-thinking the ways I rehearse and create, when resources are stretched even thinner, and movement literally becomes more limited. With studios closed, the only way to practice was to exploit still being allowed to exercise individually outdoors. The ground floor of my apartment block and the deserted road nearby became my rehearsal spaces. What began as practical adjustments in working conditions quickly became an opportunity to understand the spatial, temporal and energetic experiences offered by the other elements operating alongside my actions.

This re-thinking also involves moving away from the tendency to do things in preparation for the future. What does it mean to create and rehearse for something that might be indefinitely postponed? While a cancellation allows for a clear decision to move on to something else, a postponement on the other hand, keeps one in a heightened sense of expectation. I have found the tension created by this indefinite suspension very helpful in keeping myself in the present; and to acknowledge that the present is itself a complex tangle of desires towards unrealised futures and fragments from the past.

Erin Manning’s concept of pre-acceleration sees the cusp as a space of infinite possibilities on the verge of actualisation. The longer we remain in this elastic space, the longer we can avoid pre-determination or the foreclosure of potentiality. And it is this potentiality that I would like to work towards in On Display.

Photo Credit: Jee Chan
Photo Credit: Jee Chan
Photo Credit: Jee Chan
Photo Credit: Jee Chan
Photo Credit: Jee Chan
Photo Credit: Dinu Bodiciu

I, you, object,
and this distance between all of us.
I ask: which entity is displaying which?
This distance we relate across.
This distance from which we become conspicuous to one another.
This attention we give one another.
This ever-shifting attention we attend to while being in attendance.
This attending to something together.
An attendance in construction.

Photo Credit: Dinu Bodiciu


Lee Mun Wai is a Singaporean choreographer/dancer. He is currently studying at the Master of Choreography and Performance (MA CuP) program at the Institute for Applied Theatre studies (ATW) in Giessen, Germany. His artistic practices involve reconsidering the politics of the modes of his formal dance training, practice and performance. This reconsideration stems from him situating himself within de- and post-colonial, queer and feminist readings of bodies, spaces and temporalities. Recent projects he has been involved in are German choreographer/director Claudia Bosse’s, Thyestes Brüder! Kapital (2019), and the last IDEAL PARADISE (2018, 2020); Singaporean choreographer Daniel Kok’s, Mark (2017); and There Is Speficifisfety (2018), a collaborative performance with Malaysian choreographer/dancer Lee Ren Xin.

Mun Wai was one of the founding members of T.H.E Dance Company in Singapore from 2008 to 2015. In 2014, he was a recipient of the Young Artist Award in Singapore, awarded by the National Arts Council.