On a hard disk somewhere in the surveillance archives of Singapore’s Changi prison is a video of Jolovan Wham, naked, alone, performing Hamlet.
In 2017, Wham was arrested for organizing a small protest on a metro train and charged with holding an illegal public assembly. Earlier this year, he was finally found guilty, and offered the choice of an SGD 8,000 ($5,900) fine or 22 days in jail.
Wham, like the protests he’s become known for, is quiet and animated by a kind of contained mischief. Born and raised in Singapore, he has spent most of his adult life as an activist, fêted by human rights groups, but portrayed as a foreign-funded bogeyman by the establishment. He is famous for protests that resemble a kind of performance art in the way they point out the absurdities of Singaporean order; he’s been arrested multiple times, convicted of holding a public assembly (on his own) and of scandalizing the legal system on Facebook.