The Children’s Stand
A community art installation
5 threads of ideas, a space, mixed media, participants – woven by children
for World Down Syndrome Day 2011
The Children’s Stand is, first and foremost, a concept – an idea. Rather, it is a tapestry of ideas or the explorations and juxtapositions thereof.
The first idea is that children have rights to their existence simply as children, and so we empower children by allowing an environment that is planned, designed, constructed, and operated by children. We respect their self-expression and motivations and desires for certain forms or intentions. We cannot make judgments until we’ve sought clarification from children. We receive their contributions and inputs, and incorporate their insights into our daily lives and occupations though we may not share a common articulation. We do not make them a model of ourselves; there is not much fun for children if they came into the world just to fit into our “old (& typically tired and stifling) clothes” and are expected to navigate the world with our “old eyes”, typically tainted with prejudices, obsolete knowledge and distortions. There is this idea of true co-existences of mutual respect and value.
The second idea is to explore exchanges that involve money – a simple barter system of trading goods and services that had evolved into one needing an intermediary made of paper or mint called ‘money’ and how an intermediary changes everything, or not. There is also another form of exchange, which is not for the purposes of trade, known as gifting. How does gifting fit in within the larger system of exchange involving money? As this art installation is a community event, what then is the context of the economic activity.
The third idea is art, specifically the idea that art is in everyday living. If one were to look very closely and has the right kind of frames or boxes, one is truly endowed with life’s treasures. Alas, one also begins to realise, much of art is temporal or ephemeral and mostly, elusive. One chooses either to grip an artful life with claws defying death or one chooses simply, to dance, in and with life.
The fourth idea is about the quality of inclusion of trisomy 21, or commonly known as Down syndrome, in our lives. The extra wriggly chromosome 21 has been endowed by nature upon several individuals, our families, and our society at large. Who are these individuals and families, what is the impact, why the denial and fear, where is the prejudice from, and when is meaningful inclusion going to begin? And how can individuals with trisomy 21 truly be honoured, abled and valued as contributing members of the human race?
Last, but certainly not least, is moral intelligence. The key idea is that it does not suffice that moral intelligence remains an idea; to be truly morally intelligent, one needs to live with integrity at any given moment. Moral intelligence, I’ve recently re-learned, is not just about knowing what is right and wrong, but having the moral courage to care enough and daring enough to stand and act, for and out of, love. So perhaps the final idea, is not really about intelligence or morality in the high cerebral sense, but simply, about weaving in love, in whatever manifestations or forms, in our lives and everyday living.
I didn’t make up any of the above ideas. I merely selected several contemporary ideas that I find particularly intriguing and just pulled them out as one or two or indeed five colourful threads for closer examination, by children, and through children, for everyone. Perhaps some of these examinations will inspire some of you to also ponder this tapestry or some of these individual threads of ideas, and apply the meaningful, relevant and responsible, with wit, heart and love, into action and in your everyday living and work.
And so this tapestry of ideas then becomes the backdrop for this installation, which is a community art installation (as you become art when you enter this space), and also forms the basic governing principles of conduct for those who enter this space, an art space, which is a living space of dynamic and respectful inquiry of co-existences. May we continue to treasure, value, and serve diversity and inclusion, in gratitude and respect for the many wonders and surprises of nature, in providing us with life and in supporting us with unceasing personal and collective growth through diverse abundance.
Peng-Ean Khoo (41)
January 29, 2011
for World Down Syndrome Day – Mar 21
Children with Down syndrome:
Maia Lim (4)
Keith Cham (4)
Marie Lim (5)
Carolyn Tan (11)
Allan Chai (12)
Siblings, cousins and friends:
Jayden Khoo (4)
Nicholas Khoo (7)
Beth Cham (8)
Katharine Ann Lim (11)
Matthew Khoo (13)