Behind Cloak and Daggers
"The thesis questions Singapore’s diplomatic position on neutrality as Singapore becomes deeply entangled into the United States – China rivalry. The thesis position expresses cynicism as it demonstrates the extent of US foreign policy onto Singapore and the hypocrisy that lies behind the benign American Empire, in which there is the notion of the extrajudicial that Singapore plays a part in the field of intelligence gathering, diplomatic work, and foreign relations.
The project intervenes at the site of the Singapore Botanical Gardens due to its strategic location not only as a contemporary diplomatic playground for espionage and intelligence gathering, but also a site where Singaporean botanical diplomacy occurs.
Behind the seemingly benign system, Tyersall park as an extension of the Botanical Gardens was reimagined as a site of Extraordinary Rendition operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as means to gain political information from foreign detainees to supplement the fight on the War on Terror.
The objective of the thesis expresses the ambiguity between enforcing diplomacy and the practice of espionage by juxtaposing the intersection of tending the Great American Lawn against the propagation of Singapore’s national flower – Orchid. The thesis explores a new form of programmatic intersection between cultivating the overt diplomatic garden and the covert detention site which produces a new mode of landscape diplomacy that deeply intertwines with state clandestine operations to gather valuable information. "
The project is about masking and revealing, diplomacy and the hypocrisy behind it. The project postulate Singapore as one of a dozen Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) dark sites located around the world. Dark sites are places where CIA, because of American laws, conduct acts of torture on others not permitted in America itself. The Botanic Garden is chosen as the site. Garden, the American lawn and civility go hand in hand as they nurture and cultivate one another. While Dignitaries compliment niceties on the surface, deep in the cavern among the water storage plants are housed torture machines.
- Adj. Assoc. Prof. Bobby Wong Chong Thai
Goh Kar Hui
Goh Kar Hui