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Black Swans, Butterflies and Elephants (2019)
Lecture-performance by Jayson Jimenez and Ida Roscher

25 Jan 2019, Fri 09:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Block 38 Malan Road #01-05

As part of the Acts of Life Public Programme, Jimenez and Roscher will deliver an interventionist lecture-performance against a projected backdrop of metaphorical swans, butterflies and elephants.

Jimenez and Roscher’s is an artistic collaboration borne out of the Acts of Life critical research residency. Combining their respective interests in risk models and urban futures, they borrow from the theoretical metaphor of the black swan to describe different modes of governance. Taking the symbol of the black swan as a point of departure, Jimenez and Roscher go on to develop their own semiotic terminology of urban risk attitudes. While they characterize Singapore’s resilient (to the point of obsessive) mode of governance as an example of the black swan model, they use the term ‘black elephant’ as a juxtaposed description for Manila, that in their minds reflects a resistant model of governance in which predictable systemic risks go unheeded by government agencies. Extrapolating from the black swan and the black elephant, Jimenez and Roscher then propose a third symbol, the ‘white butterfly’, as emblematic of the potential for mobile shifts of agency within subjectivities facing threats of complex collapse.



Jayson C. Jimenez (b. 1993) teaches Philosophy and Literature at the Department of Philosophy and Humanities, Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He is also currently engaged in the study of the Anthropocene and Deleuze. Jimenez finished his MA in Philosophy at the Divine Word Mission Seminary (Christ the King), Quezon City, Philippines, with a focus on Marx’s 1841 Doctoberoral Thesis and Greek Atomism.

Ida Roscher (b. 1986) currently lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. She studied Fine Arts and International Criminology and searches for ways of translating social forms and norms. Her work oscillates between artistic practice and social science research as a critical approach to challenge widely accepted modes of expression, representation and methodology.


A public programme of Acts of Life.



Image Caption: Guided Tour of Singapore’s Geylang neighbourhood with Cai Yinzhou (Founder, Geylang Adventures, Singapore) during the Acts of Life critical research residency in Singapore. Intensely policed by closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV), the application of surveillance technologies in Geylang reflects the black swan model of resilient governmentality that Jimenez and Roscher observe in Singapore. Image courtesy of NTU CCA Singapore.