What questions do you constantly get asked as a mixed-race woman in Singapore?

What questions do you constantly get asked as a mixed-race woman in Singapore?

You and I

Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Courtesy of The Private Museum

Regina De Rozario's work, 'Faultlines', is part of The Private Museum's new initiative to collaborate with guest curators — their first is Dr. Susie Lingham in her first curated show after Singapore Art Museum

Have you ever felt like a minority within a minority? What sort of questions do you get asked on a daily basis? If you had a penny every time someone asks, "What are you?", you could be so rich, it'll get filthy.

You're not alone. If you don't fit into a box, a category, or have had trouble defining your own identity, get in line. Singapore-based artist Regina De Rozario's work that is currently showing at The Private Museum brings together the questions she's been asked and have had to respond to — something that you might very well identify with.

Commissioned by The Private Museum, the 45-year-old joins eight other artists whose works deal with otherness: Whether feared, rejected, marginalised or tolerated. Celebrating its eighth anniversary this year, the exhibit also marks the gallery's new guest curator initiative, with Dr. Susie Lingham as its first. Prior to this, Dr. Lingham was the director of the Singapore Art Museum from 2013 to 2016.

‘Faultlines (or, The questions you ask today will be the questions I ask tomorrow)’, Regina De Rozario

In 'Faultlines (or, The questions you ask today will be the questions I ask tomorrow)', De Rozario presents otherness by exploring how we ask questions and seek the answers of others to shape our perceptions of ourselves as well as the people we come into contact with. By writing the questions onto the wall and including photographs from her childhood, her autobiographical work is also a personal reflection and an investigation into that specific space — a territory you navigate when you've never seemed to fit in.

The questions range from deeply personal ones to those you've probably encountered yourselves. We all know what a person really means as well as the passive aggression that underlies such questions: "What do you do?" translates to "I need to know so I know how important you are"; "When did you come to Singapore" can mean "I need to know how loyal you are to my country"; and the classic, "Why is your English so good?" is pretty much "I actually assumed you can't speak English."

The Singapore-based artist and writer has previously dealt with themes of identity relating to geography. Looking at how we identify with places in Singapore that evoke memories and loss, she's worked with design practitioner Seah Sze Yunn to map and document Bidadari Cemetery's psycho-geography. Together, they form the interdisciplinary art duo Perception3. They've also explored reminders that the ubiquitously Singaporean void deck presents.

Regina De Rozario
Check out De Rozario's work at the Private Museum and discover how, despite the wide spectrum of human colour, creed and "otherness", you're not all that alone. 

'You, Other; I, Another' runs till 22 July at The Private Museum.