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The Dilemma of Plans in Crisis Normal

How have you been?

It's taken a while to get back to this. This past year and a half has been a lot, with so much being so overwhelming, and still it piles on – anxieties sustained, isolation intensified, precarity multiplied, segregations reinforced, complacency entrenched, struggles pacified, horizons obscured… all entangled between infinitely scrolling news cycles of inescapable doom, rehashed political theatre, and spectacular ecological catastrophe. None of this needs reminding, and yet at the same time, it all seems so easily hidden from view as things return to normal.


If you haven't been able to be present, to be “of value”, to “contribute”, to either “resist” nor “see the positive”, to know and speak and be heard amidst all this, you're most surely not alone. Even this has taken months to write. An even longer journey to realise: It's alright. You're enough.


There is no denying the palpable feeling of fatigue and grief all around, a feedback loop of powerlessness that may have us each turning to distractions while toiling, waiting for things to get… better. Those of us who can anyway.

Help and empathy run up against the limits of uncaring structures. It almost seems like the closest thing desirable and imaginable is indeed “return” to familiarity which some would call “normal” – even if normal was always twisted, punishing, and blanketed by atomised hopelessness. And as if the lasting effects of living through all this could simply be brushed off later, always later, as the “new” normal they decided on is once again forcefully instituted from the top down.

What is or should normal be? Could its understanding and experience still be changed now, be dissolved into myriad divergences, when it's easier than ever to conflate nation-state, capital, and authority with expertise, ability, and possibility? Does the urgency for response to climate crisis make it seem like these systems of rule could magically start working differently? When they haven’t for the crises normal of pandemic or everyday harms? How could we possibly break expectations of peace, joy, and comfort away from this colonialist reality moulded by extraction and death? What is “safety” predicated on the border, on exclusion, on hierarchy, but violence?

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Updates

New Starts

Hello, and welcome, we hope everyone's been as well as can be through these long months of the (first) plague year. We had this blog registered some time ago but we're just now getting to doing something with it, in part because we had contributed some materials to the library section of the Queer Zine Room at SGABF in March to help raise funds (wonderfully put together by the folks of Queer Zinefest Singapore), and had then updated our presence a little with changes in social media handles (now @waresinfoshop across the main three) and making public this site, so why not add a short post to properly mark a beginning.

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Activity Archive

Against the Disquiet #2

[Archived from original facebook event page on 28 December 2021]

19 January 2019

Event details: Friday, 25 January 2019, 5pm – 12am
Joined by: cosmologists and PUPA

If we describe our lived world as at once disquieting and pacifying, what could help push against the enveloping sense of exhaustion, isolation, and powerlessness?

wares is organising intentionally quiet evenings for reading and rest accompanied by ambient sound and music. This, in response to the noisy spectacle of leisure and escapism; to negate social relations defined by being labourers for and consumers of value and content; to serve as a spatial node for worlds to meet and potential imaginations for autonomy to materialise. (Business as usual? NAW!)

You are invited to pick up a book, zine, pamphlet, or other printed matter to dwell with, either in our shared library or the main room of soft/WALL/studs. We will be joined by live ambient improvisations played over the course of the evening. Come through at any point, and stay for as long as you'd like. We ask of each other to enter a quietness and attentiveness in inhabiting the space, to respect the need to be silent or at rest, and encourage communing at other registers to instead happen along the exterior parapet.

The music will be shaping these zones, but also allowed to sit in the background of contact; we hope to dissolve the line between performer and audience, stage and floor, and have us be mindful of not approaching only as spectators, but meeting as listeners and active agents in common. In a loose assembly, we’re making music for a library, but also holding space for more folks to initiate and collaborate against the disquiet.Entry is free, however we welcome donations to the space, or for drinks, stickers, and publications. These proceeds help sustain activities as well as our musician friends and would be very much appreciated – but so too would your presence and care!

“Ambient is never only music. It is a confluence of sound, situation and listenership; moreover it’s an unspoken contract between the creator, listener and place, seeking to achieve a specific type of musical experience.” – 12 notes on future ambient

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Activity Archive

Business as Usual? NAW!

[Archived from original facebook event page on 28 December 2021]

16 January 2019

It's that time of the year again.

What the art week represents now is a normalisation of production and consumption under capitalism. The fate of the contemporary art fairs shouldn't even matter to us. Let them come, let them fail. All we have to know is that any idea of art driven by excitement for grooming the collecting class serves only a select few. Yet the logic of the market goes well beyond the walls of warehoused gallery booths and the commodified luxury object. This is evident in the very origin of the art week, and the way vibrancy is forcefully created through funding a deluge of activities to appear at the same time. This is an image operation for tourists and traders, but a mere extension of treating artists as content creators. They tell us this is good for the industry, necessitating the hardening of professionalised hierarchies, as if this programme could get infinitely bigger, in denial that the competitive system of art being modelled after is designed to not accommodate everyone. We clamour for gigs, thankful with whatever we land, implicitly accepting that hype and exposure in a space of scarcity is still better than nothing at all. But that scarcity is symptomatic of something untenable, like the vast differences in wealth distribution and the possibilities for life we see foreclosed everywhere.

#NAWartweek

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Activity Archive

Against the Disquiet #1

[Archived from original facebook event page on 28 December 2021]

16 December 2018

Event details: Friday, 21 December 2018, 5pm – 12am

If we describe our lived world as at once disquieting and pacifying, what could help push against the enveloping sense of exhaustion, isolation, and powerlessness?

From this Friday, wares begins organising intentionally quiet evenings for reading and rest accompanied by ambient sound and music. This, in response to the noisy spectacle of leisure and escapism; to negate social relations defined by being labourers for and consumers of value and content; to serve as a spatial node for worlds to meet and potential imaginations for autonomy to materialise.

You are invited to pick up a book, zine, pamphlet, or other printed matter to dwell with, either in our shared library or the main room of soft/WALL/studs. We will be joined by live ambient improvisations played over the course of the evening. Come through at any point, and stay for as long as you'd like. We ask of each other to enter a quietness and attentiveness in inhabiting the space, to respect the need to be silent or at rest, and encourage communing at other registers to instead happen along the exterior parapet.

The music will be shaping these zones, but also allowed to sit in the background of contact; we hope to dissolve the line between performer and audience, stage and floor, and have us be mindful of not approaching only as spectators, but meeting as listeners and active agents in common. In a loose assembly, we’re making music for a library, but also holding space for more folks to initiate and collaborate against the disquiet.Entry is free; as usual, donations to the space, for drinks, stickers and publications would help cover costs and be very much appreciated – but so too would your presence and care.

“Ambient is never only music. It is a confluence of sound, situation and listenership; moreover it’s an unspoken contract between the creator, listener and place, seeking to achieve a specific type of musical experience.” – 12 notes on future ambient

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Activity Archive

wares and thorns at the art book fair

[Archived from original facebook event page on 26 December 2021]

22 June 2018

Event details: 29 June 2018 – 1 July 2018, 12 – 8pm

wares infoshop library is going to be at the Singapore Art Book Fair.

We will be launching and selling our first two publications: one, an artist's book on the oversight and preclusion of fugitive histories, and another, an essay zine continuing from #NAWartweek, directly addressing the art world and its entanglements with capital.

[[EDIT: this turns out not to be true; it turns out editing this essay and making a zine takes way longer than you'd expect, sorry! We have an excerpt and a preview cover if you'd like to take a look and comment, but we are only launching one publication – though we've got a couple of others from friends, as well as stickers, flyers, and selections from the library!]]

Details, excerpts and images follow in the discussion section, but if you can, come on through and say hello!

There may be more, and there is room for more. We'd love for you to get involved, let's make stickers, pamphlets, posters, and plans together.

"One publishes to find comrades!" 

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Activity Archive

NAW~ refusal in a time of spectacularised productivity

[Archived from original facebook event page on 26 December 2021]

24 January 2018

After a long hiatus, wares will be doing more this year, but it didn't feel right starting that off while so much else was scheduled to happen in January. For years the spectacle has been taking over. We decided to look into the cultural landscape of Singapore and the conditions that frame contemporary art today and try to understand it in a larger picture. Our response timed with Art Stage and the Singapore Art Week is rooted in withdrawal and cultivating refusal. Needless to say, this is not another thing to consume, but a holding open of space that could persist otherwise. We say NAW, we are over this, we're resting.

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Activity Archive

Down Time / Dwell Time

[Archived from original facebook event page on 26 December 2021]

15 August 2017

Event details: 16, 20, 23, 26, 30 August & 3 September 2017, 3 – 11pm

Give time this month to contemplation, to beginning a different relationship with commuting, communing, the commons, and commitment. For the next three Wednesdays (16, 23, 30 August) and alternating between Sundays and a Saturday (20, 26 August, 3 September), the wares library at soft/WALL/studs will be open into the night for this purpose of dwelling – evocative of the dwelling as in home and shelter, but more than the temporary; dwelling as in spending time with ideas and imaginaries, more than the momentary present; a dwell as a state of pause and lull, a reconfiguration of time and space where mutual care and study could be practiced, apart and away from the machinations of competition, reactionary imposition, and financialised space.

To reshape down time, the states of depression or recovery that overemphasise our unproductivity, we dwell on two texts as guideposts – The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, 2013), To Our Friends (The Invisible Committee, 2015) – speaking to the urgency for analysis and organisation that is both sensitive and incisive, rooted in rage and love.

wares is a reading library and infoshop project that began from a recognition of the aloneness and yearning that marks contemporary life. How are we to break the alienation we experience under capitalist productivity? The violence of accumulation and enclosure? Exceeding isolated selves, what kinds of communality could we weave? What theoretical, affective, tactical, and aesthetic tools have to be recuperated to allow us to organise an actionable politics of radical emancipation? Collecting a tapestry of books, zines, and other printed matter for sharing, wares is at a nascent stage of coming into being. Beyond the objects it contains, or the subjectivities it transmits, are the unwritten futures that we can chart.

For a list of books currently in the wares library: http://goo.gl/qmves7

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Activity Archive

Open Library · dwelling some ware(s)

[Archived from original facebook event page on 26 December 2021]

7 August 2017

Event details: Wednesday 9 August 2017, 3 – 11pm

A dwelling is often taken to be synonymous with “home”, but it could carry a suggestion of being temporary, or something taken as purely utilitarian, like a shelter for living. Which is not to say it is lesser than a home, because what too is that? What makes up that notion of home, so easily attached to biological family, to nation-state, to security encapsulated in a wall? To dwell upon, is also to spend time with something – an idea, a sentiment, an image, an imaginary, perhaps an emancipatory future. Like a mechanical dwell, how and where can we find the time and place to pause, to wait, to laze, to be, together, in mutual care and study apart and away from the machinations of competition, reactionary imposition, and financialised space?

If you require somewhere to dwell, with thoughts and texts to dwell upon, to gather contrary to the spurious festivities of spectacularised nationalism, soft/WALL/studs will be open on 9 August to host wares' first open library event.

wares is a reading library and infoshop project that began from a recognition of the aloneness and yearning that marks contemporary life. How are we to break the alienation we experience under capitalist productivity? Exceeding isolated selves, what kinds of communality could we weave? What theoretical, affective, tactical, and aesthetic tools have to be recuperated to allow us to organise an actionable politics of radical emancipation? Collecting a tapestry of books, zines, and other printed matter for sharing, wares is at a nascent stage of coming into being. Beyond the objects it contains, or the subjectivities it transmits, are the unwritten futures that we can chart.

For a list of books currently in the wares library: http://goo.gl/qmves7