28 JAN 2021

Tactility Studies:
Exercises in Archiving

Created during a micro-residency at Dance Nucleus, and presented as part of Dance Nucleus’ online exhibition CIRCUIT #1 (2021)

Photos from Tactility Studies: Exercises in Archiving (2021). Credit: Tactility Studies.


As a project, Tactility Studies is deeply organic and shapeshifts in response to the worlds around it. Hence, Tactility Studies: Exercises in Archiving was an attempt to reflect on and trace these shifting contours from the conception of Tacility Studies in 2018 all through to the ‘Circuit Breaker’ period in Singapore in 2020. This archival work included creating a timeline of the project and the people involved in the project, as well as gathering artefacts from the process and annotating/cross-annotating them.

Shawn wrote:

It is March 2021, a full year since all performances have been suspended. Live performance spaces remain shuttered but museums and galleries have since been reopened. Tactility Studies has been commissioned as an installation at National Gallery Singapore.

1) Devise Tactility Studies as an installation with no performers. Describe how audiences will experience this work. (How many people will experience it at a time? How will their encounter be facilitated? What is the protocol for maintaining the work after each encounter?)

Bernice wrote:

Shawn, Gua Khee, Corrie, and I, have been digging into the trajectory of Tactility Studies during this strange time -- it feels to me like it’s been a time of rest, upheaval, busy-ness, and aimlessness. It’s hard to think about touch literacy in the original context of the work (touch as pleasure, touch as affection, touch as safety, oxytocin, weird, transgressive, traumatic, painful, experimental, evocative) when all kinds of touch today feel potentially life-threatening.

(This morning, I saw a video of two children -- cousins -- hugging for the first time in months, and sobbing their hearts out. The other day, I visited my grandma for the first time in months, and the first thing she did was reach for a hug. My grandma isn’t really a huge hugger. I normally offer the hugs before I leave, and it’s a fairly new habit. She seemed more frail and tired than normal, but she wanted that hug. That hug made me think about how I need to ration my presence around others. I haven’t been out much at all, but even then that hug felt good, but also like it could be poison. I don’t think this feeling is going to go away for a long, long while, pending a vaccine. To feel more safe about those hugs, our brief visits, I decided I would steer clear of all other social visits as far as I could help it. Odd to ration a social life in terms of these risk analyses, but I suppose human touch and a sense of security do have a measurable relationship.)


Chong Gua Khee 
Bernice Lee


Corrie Tan


Shawn Chua