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Tiong Bahru Social Club (中峇鲁俱乐部)

Tiong Bahru Social Club (中峇鲁俱乐部)
Tan Bee Thiam, Singapore 2020, 88 Min., OV with English subs, DCP
Followed by a talk with Charmaine Poh

Tiong Bahru Social Club is an AI data-driven project with the goal of creating the happiest neighborhood in the world. Ah Bee enters this world as the Club’s newest Happiness Agent and is assigned to take care of an elderly cat lady. The clients as well as the employees’ happiness is always a target of improvement measurements and control mechanisms and the pursuit of happiness becomes an anxious burden more than a hopeful desire. This satire on the pursuit of happiness through governmental, data-driven social engineering is set in the historic art deco neighborhood of Tiong Bahru and the recently demolished Pearl Bank Apartments. The setting is testament to Singapore’s disappearing architectural landmarks in the midst of increased data-ification of everyday life: what role will technology play in the future of humanity and what is the meaning of happiness? 

Charmaine Poh is an artist working across media and performance to peel apart, interrogate, and hold ideas of agency, repair, and the body across worlds. Her current focus, THE YOUNG BODY UNIVERSE, is a series of enactments considering the potentialities of the feminist techno-body. She is a co-founder of Jom, a magazine about Singapore. In the fall of 2022, she started her PhD at the Freie Universität Berlin. She lives and works between Berlin and Singapore.