[Also published as a series of slides on instagram]
It's hard to believe it's already been half a year since moving from Geylang, but we're finally back, and for the second time this year, wares infoshop library is open!
Returning to this is exciting. Supporters on Patreon have already had a peek at what's been happening, and we've been inviting friends and past visitors to help test out using the space. There's much to update everyone on and future plans to sketch out: ideas, invitations and provocations which will unfold over the next few weeks here and on the blog. We start this first part with a summary of the journey so far, but if you've been waiting to visit, the website already has new information with hours up, so go check it out and make an appointment.
In April, after weeks of uncertainty (and while hosting visitors!), we managed to find a space right at the last minute, complete our frantic packing, and make the move all within a matter of days. We only made it thanks to the people who helped at every step along the way, from dismantling furniture and lending a car, to suggestions and commiseration, we are immensely grateful. Though we had leads from the wider community, it was still difficult to find spaces that matched all the criteria we had between accessibility, cost, and location. The whole process hammered in just how rent is theft, and how ableist the city is – an obstacle we still have to overcome.
These last six months have been slow, even if consistent, progress – frustrating at times as lease and rent put constant pressure on getting things moving and done, always gnawing with their imposed scarcity on time and space. Yet it's also been important to be re-attuned to just what it is we're trying to do, without amplifying productivist logic or pushing beyond capacity. What would be the point of rushing if it were ultimately at the expense of our health, joy, or relationships? Support from friends and through Patreon has been vital in lightening this load and reminding us that there are others near and far who want this to happen, which we hope will come to include more in a web of interlinked relations.
In many ways, we really lucked out landing this small and cosy room with a great view out the window. It's unusually surrounded by lush greenery – large trees, hilly parks, the rail corridor – and some of the oldest public housing estates on the island. As mentioned, physical accessibility of the building and terrain is limited, but we want to try to change that, so if you can help with further investigation, advice, and even possibly sourcing or building ramps, let's talk.
Located just west of the city core, our new space a little remote but still transit connected to multiple bus lines (with MRT stations just a few stops away), and much less oppressive feeling than many industrial areas we know. While we will miss the particular ungovernable vibe of how worlds met in Geylang, those studying, working, or living in the city and to the west and north of the island may find us easier to get to now.
It took time to lay out a plan for this space – based on our furniture and equipment, how we imagine inhabiting and using it, how sunlight will affect prints and plants alike, etc. – and then to build it all out step by step given the limited room (and days in a week) we've got. While there is now less total floorspace than before, it is just ours, and that means we can really commit to extending this library towards being a social space too, continuing with experiments of form contingent only on what time and energy is available. The move greatly disrupted momentum we were gaining after a long period of stagnation (or perhaps it's healing), but really just made immediate what was inevitable. There are still apprehensions and anxieties for sure, evasions with building management and landlord, but we look forward to what's coming.
Now we'd like to return focus to one of the original motivations for this project: breaking our isolation and atomised existences in a hostile world shaped by capital, state, and nation.
Each step, each attempt of opening up this space has been an exercise in confronting the unknown and that generalised rule of fear, always presenting a threat by way of everyone who's been made an example for going off course. We don't want to define ourselves by the reactive, placing our actions in orbit around policy and law, averse to all risk, but we also can't act naively, expecting goodness to win by virtue.
To desire living fuller lives, to nurture interdependent joy and care in lieu of competition and disposability, to fight for an end to hierarchies mandating extraction and death, to assemble destituent power – tell us that those attached to unchanging Order and crisis rendered normal don't consider these dangerous notions. Tell us that they're only for people in places other than here.
We still need each other; to meet, learn, dream, and build together this other world. A little autonomous space like this isn't going to be everything, but neither is it nothing.
Our plans are modest and pliable, some closer to realisation than others, always evolving and becoming… a section of the infoshop stocking local and regional zines; incubating radical print, art, and writing practices; introducing library memberships; making greater use of alternate online hubs; tying things back to in-person relating; organising regular meetups…
There are great urgencies of this age obscured by spectacle, an insulating bubble disconnects us from ordinary people's struggles for life and against oppression not just elsewhere but right here too, making it so easy to either believe the myths of exceptionalism that we're protected, that all this will last despite ecological catastrophe, those geopolitical games of clowns, fascist resurgences, and seemingly endless economic “growth” which costs can be offset – or turn to what authoritarians and reactionaries offer as salvation. And then the fatigue and despair that never goes away while having to work to survive. It is with these conditions in mind that we truly hope this space and project can somehow prefigure what is necessary for this moment.
And with all that said, come and share in this space, let's figure out what's possible!
We want to put greater emphasis on being more than a reading room and the solitary experience that can be, we are still looking to host self-organised intentional gatherings for meetings, workshops, hang outs, and much more. What can you imagine? What do you desire? Reach out if you need a space, make an appointment to visit, and see you around soon!