Podcast 102: CITRUS Practices & Library of Care

Adib Kosnan chats with arts practitioners Corrie Tan, Elizabeth Chan and Chong Gua Khee, who are members of CITRUS practices. The group is interested in cultivating better practices around care and intimacy in artmaking in Singapore, and are developing an online resource to help practitioners with that. 

In the latest episode of the ArtsEquator podcast, theatre practitioner Adib Kosnan chats with arts practitioners Corrie Tan, Elizabeth Chan and Chong Gua Khee on the work of CITRUS practices. CITRUS practices stands for Care, Intimacy, TRaUma-informed & Safer practices in the arts. It comprises a loose group of arts workers interested in cultivating better practices around care and intimacy in artmaking in Singapore.

The group has been working on the Library of Care, an online resource of practical concepts and tools around care in artmaking processes. A public dialogue, titled Building Care-pacities with CITRUS practices: Introducing the Library of Care, will take place on Saturday, 26 March 2022, 3-5pm (GMT+8) at Centre 42.

Listen now on Spotify or stream it here:

Podcast Transcript 

Adib Kosnan (AK): Hello, everyone. This is ArtsEquator’s podcast about the arts, and we’re currently in Centre 42’s recording studio. Welcome to today’s episode, I’m Adib Kosnan, and I’ll be hosting today’s episode with CITRUS practices. Now who are CITRUS practices? Firstly, we have Corrie Tan, writer, researcher and practitioner. Hello Corrie.

Corrie Tan (CT): Hi.

AK: We also have dance practitioner and researcher, Elizabeth Chan. Hi, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Chan (EC): Hi, everyone. 

AK: And finally, we have performance maker, facilitator, dramaturg and “kaypoh cat”, Chong Gua Khee.

Chong Gua Khee (CGK): Hi everyone, thanks for listening in.

 AK: Thank you for being here today. So CITRUS practices, it stands for Care, Intimacy, TRaUma-informed and Safer practices in the arts. It’s a loose collective of arts workers and practitioners who came together in 2021, to dream, read, and explore ways to further grow conversations and better practices in the arts around care and intimacy especially, right? Which also involves working in more trauma-informed and safer ways. So today, we’ll be talking about a few things. Basically, the main objective is to get people a bit more familiarised with the work of CITRUS practices. So my first question is for Gua Khee, could you tell us more about how CITRUS practices came about?

 CGK: Thanks. So CITRUS practices actually came about from a series of really serendipitous opportunities. So in 2020, the National Arts Council actually approached dance artist Bernice Lee and myself to curate a workshop around how to safely stage sexual intimacy. And I think at the point when they approached us, we were really excited, like, “Yes, we should be talking about this!” But at the same time, we also felt like the framing needed to be broadened a little bit more, that we need to be talking about how a culture of care and consent really needs to be attended to and practised across the entire artistic and creation process, not just a tool that’s used for specific sexual intimacy scenes or physical intimacy scenes. Because of this, we counterproposed a five-session workshop series looking at care practices in [performance-making]. It was called Making Performances With Care: Approaches To Care And Intimacy In Performance Making (very long name, you can tell we really like long names here (laughs)). So after the workshop, which went quite well, I think the participants and the facilitators were all really interested in continuing the conversation. And this coincided with Centre 42 revamping their residency structure, and launching the Co-Lab Residency to support artist-driven collaborative explorations. So then the few of us really put together a proposal to come together as a more formal working group. 

CGK: But I think I also wanted to just emphasise that I think CITRUS practices also came about from this larger movement internationally as well, that there was the #MeToo movement, which took off in 2017, that led to so many local artists creating work around these themes in 2018 and 2019 right, and I would say that maybe it was also in response to these things happening that the National Arts Council felt like, maybe we also need to think about the literacy in the local context. 

AK: For Elizabeth and Corrie, did you also resonate with this in your own practices, through  your own work?

EC: I was one of the participants in the Making Performances With Care series. And at that point, some of the things or knowledges, like trauma-informed care that they were sharing with us, was new to me. I knew it was important to care in a more… “normal”? Not normal, but in a more general sense. But I had not known these vocabularies, and I found it really useful. Like when I was doing my work in dance research. So after the workshop series, there was a call to be like, “Hey, let’s do something together”, and then I was like, “Yes, I’m in”, yeah.

Some members of CITRUS practices

AK: Was it the same for you, Corrie? 

CT: I was involved in that initial series of workshops as a documenter. So I was kind of working alongside the curatorial team to really take down and almost annotate the journey that all the participants and curators went through. And that I think was a really epiphanic and transformative process for me as a witness, to really see people collectively making sense of what the urgencies in the scene were. I think people had different sets of priorities, which complemented really well. I think some people were really interested in, let’s say, focusing on certain specific populations, right? So maybe body safety for kids, for example, would be a strong priority for a lot of people, or talking about being a parent and an artist – how is caregiving supported in artmaking processes? Other people were of course very interested in intimacy direction, right? How do you stage moments of intimacy very safely and choreograph that safely on stage? 

So it was really exciting to see, I think, all these points of view. And as a researcher, I research performance criticism mainly, and I’m very interested in thinking about critique and criticism as a form of care work. How does a robust sense of criticism support the scene and the ecology that we are in? So I think I was really drawn to the work on all of these levels, it felt something very important was emerging from these discussions that are still, I think, continuing to grow.

AK: I think the idea of critique coming as a form of care is something that I resonate with a lot in terms of improving the community in general, right, being a theatremaker myself. 

Were there any other previous iterations or similar work that you were all influenced by in the past that led you to actually opening up this conversation? 

CGK: I think there are a lot of local practitioners doing such work. And it was precisely because there were so many practitioners doing work around care and intimacy in different areas, that led to us wanting to counterpropose the workshop series, right? That it felt like there was already a lot of knowledge [locally], there were a lot of experiences, you know, with Bernice and Faye (Lim) and Chan Sze-Wei, coming from the contact improvisation community. That they’ve already been negotiating these questions of body boundaries–and yeah, how do you set up a space, so that touch can happen safely, right? Of course, there’s been ila with her work, and maybe Corrie you want to talk a little bit more about ila’s work, because I feel like you talk about it so well (laughs).

CT: So ila was also one of the facilitators for the initial workshop series. And during the workshop itself, she shared a lot about restorative justice, transformative justice. And I mean these are really nascent vocabularies in Singapore. I think one of the big struggles is that we don’t even know how to implement some of these practices in our scene, which tends to be quite small and insular and everyone knows everybody, and it can be very difficult to address harm that’s committed. That’s something that I think has always been a strong part of ila’s work. And of course, she does a lot of other different things as well. 

I think another thing I wanted to bring up to add to that tapestry of conversations that were happening: the Good Practices in Singapore Theatre paper of recommendations that was collectively put together just at the start of COVID-19 also feels like a really important resource to share – where the group behind it was really convening a lot of focus groups to think about various practitioners and how they responded to things like contracts, or intellectual property. And it felt like a really significant undertaking that I think is also part of this same discourse.

AK: I think you’ve all touched upon it, but in terms of the various aspects of CITRUS practices, right, care is the first thing that you talk about, and it’s also the largest focus. Why specifically care?

CGK: I think I personally really like “care” as, in a way, almost a broad catch-all term, right. I think about intimacy as being part of care, intimacy direction, I think about boundaries, consent culture, like these come under a broader culture of care for me personally. And at the same time, I also recognise that “care” is such a loaded term nowadays, right? Like, everyone uses care, like “Okay, let’s be more caring” and it becomes sometimes a little bit fluffy. And I think there’s a lot in academia about, you know, how do we trouble this– the usage of the word “care” and understand that care is not just about being fluffy all the time and being soft, and, you know, just saying yes to everything.

But to care seriously, takes a lot of consideration, takes a lot of time and effort and capacity. And I think that part of what we’ve been trying to do at CITRUS practices is really to explore how we can care better, but also to find ways to make that kind of care work more pleasurable and more fun and lighter, so that it’s something that we are all excited to do, rather than something we feel like, “Ugh, we have to do this thing – why?”.

CT: To add on to Gua Khee’s more expansive reading of care, I totally agree. Yeah, I think we often align care to do with coddling, or, you know, something that’s soft, or that tends to err on the side of being positive all the time. I really like this definition by care ethicist and political scientist, Joan Tronto with her collaborator, Berenice Fisher. And they talk about how caring can be viewed as a “species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible” – and that’s from their article “Towards A Feminist Theory of Caring”. And I think this was one of the things that really guided a lot of CITRUS practices’ work.

 I like the term “species activity” because it allows us to think not just human-to-human but ecologically, in terms of ecological or climate crisis. And also for caring for more-than-human or non-human things. And it’s a process of maintenance, right? You can’t just care for something one-off and be like, “Yay, I cared for something. Let me check the box.”. Elizabeth is making a checkbox action (laughs). It is really a constant process. And it’s really adaptive to various situations – you can’t always apply the same formula for care into every single situation. I think that’s something that–that’s why I like that it’s called “CITRUS practices”, because we are trying to practise it. It’s really hard. But to think of care as maintaining, adaptive process, that can’t easily fit all situations, is something I think about a lot.

EC: A question that I think about a lot in terms of care is also how to “balance”..? I don’t know if “balance” is the right term, but how to “fight” with self-care, and caring for others at the same time. Because I do believe that we are all interconnected. 

And the way that our society is structured now, often– like, we believe in the concept of scarcity, we need to compete for resources. And “if it’s not me, it’s you”, “dog-eat-dog world”. And a part of me really doesn’t like that and is looking for a different way to live, and to be with people and more-than-people things. Yeah, that’s how care matters to me, and in my work as well. 

AK: Yeah, it’s something that I really resonate with, because I feel having been in the industry, there have been instances where I felt that more care could have been shown, or shown in a different way. And when I try to do my own work, I struggle sometimes with, how do I allow that to– that kind of environment of care that my collaborators deserve? How do I maintain that, right? 

So, that brings me to my next question, in the sense of specific issues in the arts currently, right. What do you think are some of the issues that really urgently need relooking? What worries you?

CGK: That’s a really big question. Wow. I think this is actually a question I’ve been thinking a lot about, over the course of the pandemic. I think the pandemic has really revealed a lot of gaps in our sector, right. And I think it’s still difficult for me to think about the people who have left the sector because they weren’t able to sustain themselves. And I think that kind of financial sustainability is actually a very big part of care work, right? That I don’t think everything boils down to finances, but you know, as a producer, or as a co-coordinator of the working group, it’s been deeply important to me that even if we’re excited to do the kind of research or talking to people or creating resources, that there are also financial remuneration for that, so that the work can be sustainable. Rather than people trying to make everything happen within a very limited capacity.

Yeah, I think that’s something that I’m thinking about in terms of the broader sector, but then also for specific individuals, I think this question of how to advocate for yourself. How do you figure out why you want to take up a project, right. And what are your non-negotiables? I think that is something that we actually wanted to highlight quite strongly in the Library of Care project – this aspect of reflecting on yourself, reflecting on what are your own personal boundaries, what are your non-negotiables. 

But also what, you know, again, what excites you and what energises you, so that you can really understand how, maybe in the context of being a freelancer or being an independent, that you’re able to “constellate” the different projects, such that you’re able to maintain that balance for yourself that–  Eli, you were talking about between the self-care and collective care, I think a lot of it starts with first understanding your own capacities and what you’re able to manage at any one point in time. And I think when you feel like you have a personal abundance, I think then it’s also a lot easier to care for the people around you.

EC: I do think in the arts, we lack more formal structures or policies to address harm. Like recently there were a few cases of like sexual abuse or sexual assault in dance contexts, with children. And I feel like there needs to be more done, I’m thinking of Safe Sport SG. Sport as in s-p-o-r-t…s? (Sport?)

CGK: [Safe Sport]. Please look up the website, highly recommended.

EC: So they have a very comprehensive policy document that attends to things like sexual harassment or other forms of abuse in the context of sport. And I think it would be great if, you know, the arts had something similar, or we were able to work towards something similar so that not everything would be relegated to like… gossip, or like “he said, she said”, that kind of thing. 

CT: I really resonate with what Elizabeth and Gua Khee have shared. And I’m completely aligned with that as well. I’m also thinking a lot about how the current structures we have tend to benefit people who maybe fit… a certain profile, or maybe are more “majority” in the space. So if you are from a more marginal position or community, it can be very difficult to fit all the checkboxes that allow you to move smoothly through a scene. So for example, if let’s say, you are a parent and have major caregiving responsibilities, but the rigidity of a certain platform or schedule maybe doesn’t allow you to spend the time you need with your child, right? So who are the people who are not covered by how we expect things usually ought to run?

You know, everyone can adhere to a rehearsal schedule in this way, or are expected to be on time for certain hours, you know. How do we factor in people who don’t fit easily into these boxes? Or it could be something like, let’s say you’re a minority race performer, why is it there are few opportunities for you in the scene, for example. How can a scene as a whole adjust itself to allow for more equitable casting, for example. So I’m always thinking of the people or communities who just fall off because they just don’t fit the majority profile of other workers or practitioners. That’s something that frustrates me, I think particularly in a very bureaucratic Singaporean context, where everything you– let’s say in terms of grant applications or every kind of application, you’re expected to hue towards a certain kind of form, right, or a certain kind of output. So what happens when you don’t easily fit into those frames, is something I think a lot about when I think about the malleability and adaptiveness of care work.

AK: I really appreciate the thought and the breath of the communities or the– I would say, the minorities that you guys have have taken into account as you were talking about care. 

And, I mean, we’re talking among the three of you who recognise that there’s this need and also that it is something that needs to– something needs to be done about, right? In general, how do you think our whole community or industry– what place are they at to be able to think about these better practices? Have you seen any promising developments, maybe, in the past months or years that is showing that we might be able to open up this conversation a bit more? 

CGK: Yes, got. Got hope (laughs). I mean, I think what has been really exciting for me with the working group is that because there are now a lot of people with a lot of networks within the working group, we’re also hearing more about the different kinds of efforts that are happening in different pockets of the sector. So for instance, we found out about how Objectifs also had their own workshop series around image making and thinking about boundaries and consent and the ethics of that, right. So the languaging is a little bit different but yeah, I think just finding out that there are pockets of people. I also want to do a shoutout to The Consent Collaborative. So they have also been doing more work focused on intimacy direction, and you can find them I think, “the consent collaborative sg” or something, you can look them up on Instagram. It’s by Prescott and Lihong. And yeah, I think there are lots of pockets of people in Singapore who are doing more work. 

I think the next step now for me is really how all these different efforts can kind of add up to something bigger and also be able to sustain over time, right? I think that is actually a bigger thing. It’s not so much that people haven’t been having these conversations, but that these conversations are often maybe a little bit more short-lived, that people have energy to do something, and that’s great, like the Good Practices Paper (laughs), which is amazing, right? Like, it’s this incredible document that is so rich, and then I’m really curious about where it will continue to go or whether companies are able to take that on board and work with it. And I think maybe that’s where I’m hoping that CITRUS practices can help to fill the gap a little bit. Like we might not be doing many things because we have limited capacities, but I think we are committed to being in the scene, that we’re committed to being around and to keep holding space for these conversations so that we can continue to partner up with other people, or that people will start coming to us to have these conversations, right?

EC: I think like my sense, whenever I bring up care with arts practitioners outside of CITRUS, it’s always like, “Oh, yah yah!”. Everyone’s interested. Like, “Yah. It’s so important, and these things are not being talked about enough.” But I think there’s still a sense that care work is too troublesome or takes up too much time, that we need to commit to the actual doing, you know. So sometimes care work is taken for granted, or seen as something not tangible enough. And I feel like there isn’t…–like we could create platforms for conversations, but what is something that will.. (searches for the word) 

CGK: –ignite? (laughs)

EC: Yeah, like catalyse… those opportunities and gatherings… Yeah, it’s still “question mark”. 

CT: Maybe on a final note, yes, I do agree. I think there are many more emerging conversations about care work and care ethics and care practices. One more group of people I do want to shout-out is looking at arts practitioners who work a lot with persons with disabilities. So I really want to shout-out Access Path Productions, headed by Grace Lee-Khoo, for example. I think they have been just so instrumental and thinking about development work in this area, and also Equal Dreams Singapore, which is a more newly founded social enterprise. So the M1 Fringe Festival works with them really regularly to make sure all their shows are captioned, provide access services. And I think more and more theatre groups, including Singapore Repertory Theatre, are looking at how can we do touch tours for non-sighted people? How can we have relaxed performances if, let’s say, your child is neurodivergent, and wants a more relaxed sensory area to experience a show. 

So I think there’s a great deal more sensitivity to this particularly, I think in the past couple of years, we see so many more theatre companies incorporating captioning, subtitles into their work, which I think is such a wonderful step forward. But I think you know, it’s still at a smaller scale. And to be able to do this collectively, as an entire industry to really implement access support, not just with audience members, but all the way throughout a production, for example, would be really exciting. I do think there’s so much more attention paid to how shows are staged together with access support. And I’m excited to see that continue.

A content feedback workshop for the Library of Care.

CGK: I’m just wondering if this is a good point in time to segue to Eli sharing a little bit more about the Library of Care? Because I think Eli you were talking a lot about how people feel like it is –that they’re excited about [care], but they feel it’s troublesome, right? And I think that’s really part of the impulse for the Library of Care, like how do we break things down into smaller pieces, so that it doesn’t feel as daunting?

EC: That’s true, like a lot of the questions that I receive are like “how?” You know, around the “how” and that’s one of the key things that we really wanted to push in the Library of Care. So the Library of Care is a digital resource or website that we proposed for the NAC ARH Self-Employed Persons Grant. And then the core team consists of Chong Gua Khee, myself Elizabeth Chan, Ang Kia Yee, Hoo Kuan Cien, Faye Lim, Teo Xiao Ting and Jaclyn Chong. And Corrie has also been working closely with us for the public dialogue that we have coming up on 26th March, as well as helping out with the speech-to-text interpretation for our events. 

So in the Library of Care, we bring together resources around care concepts and practices. And as of now, the library has four “books”: Getting To Know Yourself; Open and Regular Communication; Unpacking Consent; and Addressing Harm. And then under Getting To Know Yourself” we touch on concepts such as values, needs, boundaries and power dynamics. The first three books are more about setting up and maintaining certain care practices and structures. And then the fourth book on Addressing Harm is for when, in spite of our efforts to care, harm does sometimes happen anyway (because we are human and we make mistakes). So here are the things we can do to attend to harm with as much care as we can, instead of just you know, minimising or ignoring it. 

In the first three books, we have divided them into subcategories, where we begin with definitions of what a concept is or is not. Followed by reflective questions which are separated into self-reflective questions such as, “How often do I say no to others?”, and questions for a facilitator or an organiser of encounters such as “How do we all know that we are gathered for the same purpose?”. And then after reflective questions, we have “warm-ups”, which are suggestions for people to practise expressing care through certain ways. It’s something like a “rehearsal” for you to try out a new practice, or say things in a new way with a trusted friend or partner. Then finally, we have a “Diving In” section where we suggest concrete methods to apply these practices in your actual work processes. 

And then the fourth book which is Addressing Harm, we also begin with definitions and how to spot harm, but it’s structured slightly differently. We have suggestions for those who have experienced harm; for those who want to support someone else who has been harmed; for those who have been told or realised that they themselves have harmed others; as well as resources about where to go for help; and we also provide some “conversation scores” for difficult conversations. 

So for now, we just have these four books. As well as some suggestions for ways to use the library. But in the future, we do hope to expand and include more books on things, such as access work and caring for the environment, etc. Yeah, so that’s the Library of Care. 

AK: I had the pleasure of being part of some of your initial “content [feedback] workshops”, right. 

CGK: Whoop whoop.

(laughter)

AK: And personally as a practitioner, what Elizabeth talked about – “the tangible”, the tangible things, right, you have the desire, you have the want to do something, but sometimes you may not have the bandwidth to actually be able to dive deep into “how do we do this thing”. So what I really appreciated were actually the reflective questions at the start. This idea of, okay, it comes naturally sometimes, in certain aspects of facilitation work, for example, or when you’re talking to actors as a director, or as a playwright trying to get certain nuances out of it. But you don’t apply them to yourselves at the beginning of a process. I think because of the nature of our industry, because of the pace of certain deadlines, and also, the strength of numbers or lack of numbers in certain areas of artmaking – that’s something that we kind of put by the side, right? 

So to have it all in one resource like this, it really made me excited actually. To hear the anecdotes – I think during the workshop, we shared a lot and we shared across the industry. And it was so heartening, and saddening also, to hear the same issues coming up. And sometimes, we tend to see ourselves as a silo or a representation–or like, “Yeah, this happened to us, but they probably deal with it better” or, “We will not do things like them”. But actually, it all comes from the same place. And nobody wants to put on a bad show, or nobody wants to intentionally be a bad person. So I think for me, I really appreciate the effort and also the resources that you guys have put together for the Library of Care.

A content feedback workshop for the Library of Care.

CT: Thanks so much, Adib. I think maybe to also give some context to the kind of feedback workshop that Adib was referring to. I think in the process of developing the Library of Care Resource, the project team curated two different “content feedback” sessions. Both took place in the final quarter of 2021. So the first involved mostly arts practitioners across a wide variety of sectors. So from music, performance, visual art –we tried to invite as diverse a group of practitioners as possible, you know, some producers, some artists, to really give us really robust and rigorous feedback about this resource that we were trying to put together. So that was the first workshop. The second workshop was a broader, more cross-sectoral workshop, where we also invited non-arts practitioners to see whether, actually is this applicable to your context as well? So I think through those two rounds, the core project team really received a lot of feedback that they’re trying to work into the digital resource as a whole, yeah.

AK: Thank you guys. The Library of Care is something that is an answer to a question that I asked right – “so what do we need to do as an industry”? It is a resource, it is a step in that direction. And there’s also something else that’s happening later this month, right? On the 26th of March?

CGK: Jeng jeng jeng. 

(laughter)

AK: A public dialogue, right? 

CT: Yeah, so maybe I’ll share a bit more about that. I’ll be moderating the public dialogue that’s going to be happening on the afternoon of 26th March at 3pm, also at Centre 42 in the Black Box. So we’re really excited to share the Library of Care resource more widely with people. Because at the moment, it’s still something that we’ve been just working on (laughs), in a small group of people, maybe with some invited people to give feedback. So I’m really excited for it personally, because we’ve invited three really incredible practitioners to actually give the Library of Care a whirl. We’ve invited Divaagar, who is a visual artist – he works a lot through installation and performance in digital media. We’ve also invited Tan Beng Tian, who co-founded The Finger Players, but now she’s an independent theatre practitioner. She works a lot with puppetry, but she’s also really invested in access work and accessibility. And finally, we’ve also invited Shaza Ishak who’s the Managing Director of Teater Ekamatra, which is a minority ethnic theatre company here in Singapore who does really incredible powerful work.

 
 
 
 
 
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CT: So the three of them will be taking this month to look through the Library of Care resource that we’ve shared with them, and to maybe shortlist 1-3 practices from this resource that they feel like “Ooh I can try this out in my own practice and see whether it works or doesn’t.” I mean we’re equally curious to see whether it works or doesn’t work. So I’m really excited to hear from them once this little experiment is done at the end of March. (So Shaza, Beng Tian and Diva, we are really looking forward to see how that went for you). And the idea is that, you know, the things that they are implementing in their practices can be small or large–I think it’s really up to you how adaptive you want these practices to be. So yeah, we’ll find out. And we’re hoping to also invite members of the public to come down to witness this and to have a discussion with us about what our three panellists will be sharing, and also their own experiences of navigating the Library of Care resource. Which maybe is a good time to ask, how do people (laughs) access this Library of Care resource? Gua Khee and Eli?

CGK: That’s a great question (laughs). So I would say that the content team (which is myself, Eli, Faye, as well as Teo Xiao Ting), we got very, very excited and we wrote a lot of things. The feedback workshops were also really great. There was a lot of feedback. And I think where we are right now is that, we are maybe at phase one of the library resource – that we have it on a Google Site, and it will be available upon request. So we have a Google form that people can fill in, just for us to be able to track the number of people accessing it, or maybe some of the reasons why people might want to access it. And then we’re hoping to be able to find more resources to support the actual development of the site into a fully blown website that has proper UI/UX, that people will be able to navigate the content more easily. Then I think that would be the actual proper launch of the site.

EC: Will they be able to find the Google form on our Instagram page bio? (laughs)

CGK: Yes, we will have that on our bio! Or you could just sign up to come for the public sharing on the 26th of March. And as part of the registration, you would get an early link to the Library of Care. So that’s something that you will be able to look through.

AK: Great. So what’s next for CITRUS practices? What are your future plans? And what do you hope to achieve? What else is the “pipe dream” for CITRUS?

CGK: (small voice) the world…! 

(laughter)

CGK: I think because we have the Library of Care right now, I think the most tangible next steps is really that (as Eli said) we would like to be able to add more books to it – that we recognise that within the current team, we also have blind spots. And there are also things around, for instance, access or maybe thinking about sustainability. Or even intimacy direction, right, that’s not something that the current team has experience or knowledge about. And I think that moving forward, we really want to invite other guest writers to come onboard to contribute their experience, as well as to just constantly work on new material for the Library of Care.

I think, as each of us are learning different things – like right now, I’m actually taking a course in non-violent communication. And wah, already I look at the content, I’m like, there are things that I want to adjust already, and recognising that it’s probably not going to be at this point, but in the next phase of developing it, I think we would want to adjust it. And that feels like how the Library will continue to develop, that we’ll just keep refining and tweaking it and hopefully making it into a resource that becomes more useful. I think something else that might be in the pipeline is that different–so maybe we won’t share too much about it, but there’s an artist who is interested in maybe taking some of the information from the resources and turning them into toolkits or in other forms – so non-digital forms. So I think that’s also quite exciting.

EC: And we’re also interested from hearing from others, from listeners, or you know, anyone who’s interested in these topics, you can follow us on Instagram at C-I-T-R-U-S-dot-practices, and you can reach out to us if you have thoughts, questions, interested to join, got resources (laughs), also can.

CGK: Yeah, and maybe I’ll just add a quick note that we’re not really a formal working group with a formal membership, or whatever it is. I think that we are quite deliberately a porous working group that people come in and go. And I think the hope is that – to whoever’s listening to this – if there are ideas that you’re curious about, and which you feel like maybe the infrastructure or CITRUS practices can support you, please definitely get involved with us, either through DM-ing us on Instagram or just emailing us directly at CITRUS.practices@gmail.com. That’s something that I think, we’d really love to just have more conversations. 

CT: Yeah, and I think on a personal note to add I think, I really appreciate the metaphor of the library as something that can continually be expanded, can be curated in different ways. We can foreground certain books, others can be put in the closed stacks, or refreshed. And that also, we know, we are not the encyclopaedia for everything definitive about care, because that would defeat the purpose. That we have to continually expand and grow it, and adjust and adapt. And we’re not infallible, right – I think what I appreciate is that it allows for this elasticity of the project. And I appreciate that we do finally have some kind of public resource available so that people, and especially independent practitioners, or self-employed practitioners, don’t feel so alone in navigating a lot of these very isolating issues.

Like what Adib was sharing earlier, like, “Oh, my God, so many similar things”, but people felt really alone. And I would really hope, I think my personal dream is that there are fewer “bathroom networks” or “whisper networks”, where people are saying, “Oh don’t do this, don’t work with this person”. And that we find better processes of addressing things, rather than just whispering them to each other, right?

So that can be public resources or case studies or possibilities, or even going to a group who would understand how you feel navigating something. It just feels really helpful to me, even though these are just early steps. So I think that is my aspirational (laughs), personal dream, I think as a member of this porous group. And I really appreciate what Gua Khee brought up about porosity, because then, depending on the level of commitment you can afford, you can really devote your time to certain projects, or maybe other things take your time and you come back. I really appreciate this kind of loose way of working with others, to remind you that, yes, there’s a collective network around you that can support you, but if you need time away, that’s also fine. I think that’s what my hopes– my rambling (laughs) hopes are.

(laughter)

CGK: I love it.

AK: I don’t think they are ramblings, because I feel like, whatever you have said, is something that I personally have gone through myself. The idea of having to step back before being able to give a full version of myself to the community, to the industry, to the project. 

And on that note, I’d really like to send my thanks and appreciation for your time today, for your generosity in sharing this. And also for all the hard work in collecting and holding space for these conversations. This has been an ArtsEquator podcast and we had today, three members of the CITRUS practices, Corrie Tan, Elizabeth Chan and Chong Gua Khee. Thank you ladies, thank you very much for spending the evening today. My name is Adib Kosnan. Thank you everyone for listening.


To find out more about CITRUS practices, please click here. The public dialogue Building Care-pacities with CITRUS practices: Introducing the Library of Care will take place on Saturday, 26 March, 3-5pm (GMT+8) at Centre 42. To register, please click here.

This content is sponsored by CITRUS practices. The money earned from paid advertising goes towards covering ArtsEquator’s running costs and paying our writers and content creators. We have a strict policy regarding which content which can and cannot be sponsored. To read more about our editorial policy, please go here.

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