Adar Ng and Dave Lim: The Spaces Between Us
The Spaces Between Us is an accidental film.
It is an overly engineered documentary. It attempts to slice up society into neat piles of bureaucratic understanding; ranging from age, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic standings. In this clumsiness of profiling and segmentation, the vicariousness of real life embellishes itself with the smallest of actions: actions of hope, actions of resistance and actions of longing. These expressions serendipitously mirror the attempt at controlling the virus in Singapore, as bureaucrats move around to define the war on COVID.
We are now, after many years of dependence on migrant labour, having to label workers down with COVID-19 as ‘non-community cases’. As of 1 November 2020, at least 50,000 of 58,019 cases have been a foreign worker in a dormitory.
For a good month or two, all news of COVID-19 felt unreal, as we heard of ravaging cases in dormitories just a mere kilometre or two away from the government housing units that we reside in. Ironically, these units were built by the very people whose lives and bodies have been ravaged by the virus. But, we’ve been brought up to know that Singapore is a small nation. How much plurality can possibly co-exist?
The Spaces Between Us attempts to reconcile this physical disjoint; the disjoint being the multitude of existence, livelihood and being. It is to that degree that the film offers a mere glimpse of an even smaller section of time in Singapore’s history.
Hopefully, in embellishing these different existences, the audience reckons with the discomfort as Singapore surges onto dizzying new economic heights, dreams, and aspirations amidst a ravaging pandemic.