An Audio Guide for the Netherlands East Indies exhibition at the Tropenmuseum by KUNCI Cultural Studies Center (Excerpt)

Note: The article is an excerpt of the audio guide which is a site-specific project realized by KUNCI Cultural Studies Center (Yogyakarta) in the Netherlands East exhibition at Tropenmuseum. It was produced in KUNCI’s 6-week research residency at the museum; a project facilitated by the independent platform Heterotropics and the Research Center for Material Culture. The audio guide can be listened online or in the museum. The storyline serves as an alternative reading of the objects displayed in the permanent exhibition since 2003. The exhibition is fashioned as a colonial theater through life-size mannequins and artifacts, which aims to provide the audience with narrative sceneries of the daily life in "East Indies", exploring realms such as ‘Education’, ‘Art’, ‘At Home’, ‘Commerce’, ‘Discovery’, and ‘Presentation’. With the voice of "Sulastri", the main character of Suwarsih Djojopuspito's Buiten het Gareel, the listener find in it the representation of the museum’s gaze as well as a medium for reclaiming colonial history, both are the very elements of this figure of the East Indies woman.



[Hoo Fan Chon] How to cook Asam Laksa with Tilapia

(Author: Hoo Fan Chon / Original link)
Note: The Tilapia fish, or more commonly known as the Wu Guo Yu in Taiwan has a humble origin. However, it has a captivating story to tell as in how it was introduced to Taiwan by two Taiwanese soldiers from Singapore in 1946. The advancement in fish farming technology and the unintended yet colourful branding exercise have gradually promoted this fish as the national sea bream of Taiwan. This sharing session is based on the study of Wu Guo Yu, to look at the form of migratory movement through livestock, the process of domesticating a foreign species and its cultural significance in constructing a national narrative. A Wu Guo Yu sample dish will be served during MNML #19. The artist will like to thank Digital Art Foundation, Taipei for the invitation, OCAC for hosting the residency, and friends from the local art community for their advice and support during his one month stay in Taipei. To revisit the place where Wu Guo Yu was initially brought in from, the artist chose to cook Asam Laksa with it by adding a Nanyang flavour to the supposedly naturalised foreign species, as a gesture of homecoming.


[Okui Lala] A Proposal for Our Future Mother Tongue

(Author: Okui Lala/ Original link)
Note: The article is rewritten from the transcription of the NML Residency & Nusantara Archive Project, Meeting NML #18 on 5th, Aug, 2017. The artist imagines our collective identities through language connections and disconnections. In this artistic research, her language proficiency became her tool and boundary: Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, English, Hokkien; and within them, the language politics, the accents, the unwritten. Interpretations were based on introduction through language teachers as well as conversations with Malaysian artists, who are and were based in Taiwan. Moving back and forth between the bridges and gaps of the past and contemporary signifier/signified, what will then be the possibilities of our mother tongue and lingua franca in the future along with the development, re- or non-development of the current ones?
Before I begin my presentation, I would like to play two short videos for the audience. The first video is 'How do we meet? How can we meet?' (2016), a video I made during my residency in Thailand. In the video, the old lady and I repetitively read a chant in some languages, during which we spoke in Teo Chew, besides Thai. The second video that I'm going to share is the beginning from ‘My Language Proficiency’ (2017). Here is the excerpt from the video:


New Youth Cultural Movement in Malaysia: A Conversation with Zikri Rahman, Co-founder of Buku Jalanan

(Author: SHOW Ying Xin; translated by Kris CHI [English] / originally link) 
Note: As a young Malay activist on the street, Zikri Rahman consistently embarks on various interdisciplinary socio-political and cultural activism projects, including Buku Jalanan and Idearaya Festival. Currently, he is doing a cultural and literary mapping project of Kuala Lumpur through the lenses of literature with LiteraCity. This is an interview conducted by Show Ying Xin on Malaysiakini in 2017.
"Reading should be encouraged at all times, with an effort to promote books that are worthwhile and that enlarge the recruit's facility to encounter the world of letters and great national problems. Further reading will follow as a vocation; the surrounding circumstances will awaken new desires for understanding in the soldiers. This result will be produced when, little by little, the recruits observe in their routine tasks the enormous advantages of men who have passed through the school over the remainder of the troop, their capacity for analyzing problems, their superior discipline, which is another of the fundamental things that the school should teach."
--Ernesto Che Guevara, Chapter Three in Guerrilla Warfare 
“Which book influences us? That must be Che Guevara’s Guerilla Warfare.” Zikri Rahman is in black with tied curly long hair. His words reveal the ideas and resolution of the left-wing youth.

[WU Chi Yu] The Reading List Project: Interview with Kitartb, the independent bookstore in Kota Bharu

(Translated by Okui Lala [English] and Rikey Tenn [Chinese] / original link)
Note: The "Reading List" Project is the collaborative publication between artist WU Chi-yu and Nusantara Archinve. As the pre-text of his work, WU interviewed with two independent bookshops based in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, with the help of artist Okui Lala and cultural worker Wan Atikah. They are Ezzmer Daruh of Kitartb and Zaidi Musa of Kedai Hitam Putih. They've different styles and experiences, and both devote to the alternative practices of knowledge production. The project contains interviews published in English and Chinese, and the notes of WU in the process. They also transform into his new video works. Through the reading list recommended by Ezzmer and Zaidi and their alternative strategies, the viewers see the local reading condition and their values behind the messages they've shared
Kitartb is an alternative bookshop, which I started in Kota Bharu since May 13th 2016. I use the term ‘alternative’ because there are existing bookshops in Kelantan but they mostly sell books to students. From this perspective I thought of what was lacking in Kota Bharu. The relationship between books and readers, books and the public should be more intimate than that. ‘Alternative’ means working together on more events provided by the public. To Kitartb, Kalam[1] is the support team. If Kitartb is a house, Kalam are those living inside it. On the surface, I run and manage it, but Kalam will back it up with support.


[Okui Lala] A Dialogue for Okui Lala's Art Practice on Language and Migration

(Author: Oui Lala; conducted by Alecia Neo [English], Rikey Tenn [Mandarin]/ originally link)
Note: 1-6 of the article was except from a conversation between Okui Lala and Alecia Neo in June 2016 (link: alecia-neo.squarespace.com/) as part of Art in Context: Learning from the Field publication. The full text can be access here: www.goethe.de/ins/my/en/kul/sup/aic.html. The English texts were later edited and translated to Mandarin by Rikey Tenn. 7-8 was a conversation between Okui Lala and Rikey. The interview were conducted in Mandarin and later translated to English by Okui Lala.
1. I like to use this symbol as a way to describe my art practice:
Relationship = self >< others.
This can be read as a two-way relationship, a journey that travels back and forth. Often, I initiate our conversations by sharing my background and thoughts while listening to theirs, to see where we both are coming from. I’m not really into advocacy, but I’m on a quest to search for alternative narratives on identities and belongingness and, in extension, the larger social, cultural and political milieu. Identities >< Migration. My exploration of my own identity began with an artwork I did with my mom (“Sewing & Sew Eng”, 2014). As I was exploring the tensions and compromises between us while making an artwork together, my identity as a Malaysian (as well as the fourth generation of Chinese descendants in Penang, Malaysia) was slowly unveiled; from the languages I spoke, the culture norm I’m bought up in, to the notion of home that differs among generations.


[Syafiatudina] Numpang as Inhabiting Thresholds

(Author: Syafiatudina)
Editor's Note: The article written by Syafiatudina is part of the author's research during her residency program at ifa gallery.) The politics of sharing concerns strategies of numpang (or loosely "sharing"), critique and forming positions concerning the self and one's neighbours in environments of entangled values and shifting proximities.
What is numpang? A friend of mine has been living in a communal house for his whole life. Once he lived in and took care of the headquarters of an artist-run space in the south of Yogyakarta. He didn’t pay the rent but he took a great deal of care of the house. He was numpang in the artist-run space headquarters, of which he was also a member. Numpang is taking a shelter, living in a place that “belongs” to someone else.

On a daily basis, this friend of mine would clean the house, repair some broken things, or make the house comfortable for other members when they come to visit. The house was a workshop for artists to produce silkscreens or linocuts. It was also the place for them to drink and hangout. After the hangout session ended, they would go home to their own individual places, except for my friend. He stayed in the house, because he lived there. Thanks to my friend’s daily efforts to take care of the house, it became a convenient space to work together for the collective. So the collective is numpang on my friend’s efforts to take care of the house. Here, numpang becomes a moment of dependency. Something depends on other things in order for certain things to exist.


Scenes of Magic Realism in “Malaysia, Truly Asia"

(Author: Wang Po-wei; translator: Cliff Chang/ Origin link)

This article originally stems from the Meeting No Man's Land series: “Art-in-Production 2: Yao Lee Chun + Au Sow Yee”, organized by No Man’s Land. Yao, Lee-chun, the director of Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre was invited as the moderator for Malaysian artist Au Sow Yee on the “real” Asia [1], of which the seemly bizarre problematization was inspired by “Malaysia Truly Asia”, the official tagline by Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. Series of video advertising with the tagline stress the “real” Asia lies in the harmony of multi-ethnicity and the diversity of lifestyles in Malaysia.


Sound Route: Three Notes on Geography

(Author: Wu Chi Yu,Shen Sum Sum, and Musquiqui Chihying; translated by Zoey Wu / Original link

Leaping North from the seaside wetland on Java, Indonesia

Crossing the Sea

Contemporary art as an interdisciplinary subject is never the accumulation of a certain knowledge. Tossing on the sea of social science research, art creation unfolds a piece of tiny and irregular multidi-mensional space for the diverse currents to encounter and merge, so that human can take the opportuni-ty to think back over the modernity. Upon a research item of Taiwanese old song, the story of a girl who was inclined to tragic character caught our attention. In comparison to other Taiwanese Hokkien love song, the depiction of this girl’s hybrid appearance in the lyrics clearly offers more traces on early trade history under globalization rather than just shows the scene of self-pity loves.How did the lyricist Chen Dar Ru find the background of Ms. Kim? And who exactly did Ms. Kim long for – the employee from Dutch East India Company or the doctor from British caravan on ship? We do not have the confi-dence to answer all these subtle historical questions, but coincidentally we found the spirits of Ms. Kim in many difference references. These spirits not only embody Ms. Kim’s self consciousness but also – to be more precisely speaking – they appear like Ms. Kim’s reincarnation.


[Hoo Fan Chon] How to Become an Island? - Interview with Hoo Fan Chon, Run Amok

(Interviewed by Rikey Tenn (Tenn, Bun-ki); translator: Zoey Wu / Original link)

Hoo Fan Chon(符芳俊): Since I was little, and growing up in predominantly Chinese neighbourhood, I was puzzled by the concepts of “motherland” and “mother tongue” mentioned by elder members in the family. I didn’t quite know if they meant Malaysia or China at that time. My father would ask question related to national identity, for instance, if China badminton squad is competing against Malaysia, which team would I support? At the back of my mind, I had a feeling that he was hoping that I would root for team China. These thoughts have been playing in my head, just like my parents’ longing for the China, and China being the emerging world political power. Just like my last visit to Hainan island three years ago, where my grandfather came from, I could not relate to it as being home. There’s a huge gap between my way of thinking as compared to my dad’s. I regard myself as Malaysian first then only as Malaysian Chinese.

Tenn, Bun-ki: From my own observation, although there are differences between ethnic groups in Malaysia, the identity contradiction also exists among Malaysian Chinese. By asking more efficiently, I would like to know when was the time you got enlightened in the field of art? As I know, the five years of “Digital Media” you’ve majored in the University of Multimedia seem to focus more in “designing”.