Discipline the City

The city wears you out. Constantly assaulted by ERP gantries, pavement studs, placebo buttons and open plazas that masquerade as public space, the citizen discerns just how expensive and exclusive the city can be. Everyone knows exactly where he or she should be.

Discipline the City is a response to the question of control, access, and politics of space. Housed within a former power station, this exhibition is designed as an anti-building with misaligned spaces ranging from a failed museum, a punk-in-residence, to a bruising narrative of trapdoors in a dungeon. It is part proposal part elegy; most of all, it is a question that always leads back to you - who has the right to the city?

Opening Dates & Times
Act I: 23 Aug - 24 Sept
Act II: 4 Oct - 22 Oct
Act III: 1 Nov - 26 Nov

12pm–8pm, Wed–Sun
Closed Mon, Tue, Public Holidays & dates between acts
Admission into the exhibition is free. We encourage you to support our work by paying an entrance fee of $5.

Discipline the City is not a survey to represent and master all forms of disciplinarian approaches. Except for Kuang-Yu Tsui's urban interventions, most of the artist works do not directly engage the practice of spatial discipline. Precisely by apprehending the city at an angle, at a distance, these artists show us the limits of our imagination — that space and place ultimately is contingent. 

Rotating artworks

Permanent artworks

Part performance, part attitude, and all punk — what else can you expect from a docent series that is a play on the oft-used slogan and anti-police acronym ACAB (All Cops are B____)? From a new artistic director, to a schizo two-faced docent, to a quarrelling pair of lovers, each punk tour is a unique portrait built upon their own stories. 

ACAB tours are devised in collaboration with theatre practitioner, Tan Liting. Tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays, 4pm–5pm. This is a ticketed event.

The question of punks and The Substation is impossible. Through its 27 years of history, the arts centre has alternately granted and denied access to the punk and hardcore scene. Unable to resolve its politics and contradictions, the curators submit to the illogic of punk. Instead of the triumphalist museum (celebrate this, celebrate that bahh), this is a museum of punk spaces — a story of failure, loss and defiance in the city. And in place of street-side and back alleys, punk-in-residence invites them to occupy prime real estate space. In the spiritual home of punks, this is the time of reckoning.

Talks and workshops for the public will be held in conjunction with the Exhibition. These public programmes expand upon issues and ideas surfaced by the exhibition.

Tours and workshops designed for schools are available in conjunction with the Discipline the City exhibition at The Substation. All school programmes seek to ask: How are society’s values and norms built into our homes, our schools and our everyday lives? How might art and design reflect or inform the way we think about ourselves, our culture, and our norms? In thinking and designing for our future, how might we better understand our present?

The city cares for you. Design thinking creates better public spaces that promote citizens’ health, happiness, and well being. Algorithms harness data to ensure the optimisation of traffic, labour and goods. The city is not always perfect, but it is always learning, always upgrading. Community is strengthened, heritage is preserved, old buildings and nature reserves are rehabilitated. Under the shade of neatly planted trees, citizens march on to school, to work. The discerning citizen is always upgrading.

You are empowered by the following approved programmes.

The Discipline the City Season consists of three platforms that run once a month. Salon lectures feature close-readings of art, architecture and social phenomena that cater to the incurably curious. Workshop programmes equip citizens to better navigate the codes and rules of the city, either through authoring the city through interventions, or reclaiming their ability to design and actively shape the spaces that they live in. Cinema screenings explores the urban conditioning of bodies by routines, ideologies or structures of control.

View our ongoing DTC programmes