[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.


[Wang Po Wei] 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.


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”.


[Au Sow Yee] Party, Film (Image) and Its’ Historical Index System

(Author: Au Sow Yee; translator: Zoey Wu / Origin link

(Pic 1) The screenshot of “Air Hostess”, 1959 produced by MP&GI ( Grace Gelan in the middle dressed in red)

“I am not a party girl.”

Seemingly, this quote looks like a kind of declaration that sorts herself into a particular genre, timeline, spa-tial consciousness and image. The remaining images of this particular person, either in terms of time for its extension and fracture ,day and night, forward and backward ;or in terms of space for its segmentation and composition ,brightness and darkness, suspension and leap, are being given input into personal im-age(film)index system in thousands upon thousands of combination ways. The images are being constructed and then given out as an output. Therefore, it is no longer important whether I am a party girl or not. It is perhaps (or perhaps not) a lie. “Party” stirs up personal image(film) that is almost auto generated from our mind.

[Au Sow Yee] Difficulties of Historical / Time (Image): Sarong, Frank, Painter, Jim, Moonlight and Fire

(Author: Au Sow Yee; translator: Cliff Chang / Origin link)
This is not … the record of a traveler’s experiences in a foreign land. It is a series of sketches of Malay scenery and Malay character drawn by one who has spent the best part of his life in the scenes and amongst the people described.
These pages contain no statistics, no history, no geography, no science, real or spurious, no politics, no moralising, no prophecy - only an attempt to awaken an interest in an almost undescribed but deeply interesting people, the dwellers in one of the most beautiful and least known countries in the East.[1]
Maybe we should start from a secret, or should we say, an image.


[LiteraCity 2016] An Interview with Amir Muhammad

(Author: LiteraCity; originally published in LiteraCity Festival 2016

Amir Muhammad is a casual filmmaker, writer and publisher at Buku Fixi. We met Amir Muhammad at Khadijah’s Kitchen after an event at Gerak Budaya, Petaling Jaya. He opened up the discussion to the exploration of Malay film world in the studio era and English theater world.

Amir Muhammad:
 Maybe not dramatically, but psychologically. If we observe writers like Hamzah Hussein and A. Samad Said, they were formerly based in Singapore, and later moved here. This includes P. Ramlee who was also a writer but specializes in screenplays. There was an attempt to recreate KL myths, because before them, KL was not considered a sexy city. The city was not a harbour, so its romance was different. KL was considered to be a place infected with malaria. In the process of establishing KL, many have died. People were not used to the environment back then. So in the 1960s, there were efforts to develop the image of KL myths.

[LiteraCity 2016] An Interview with A Samad Said

(Author: LiteraCity; originally published in LiteraCity Festival 2016

With more than six decades of being involved in the writing scene, cities are his playground. Our fourth Malaysian National Laureate who are prefer to be called as “Bapak”, born in Durian Tunggal, Melaka and brought up in two different cities, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The interview was held at Masjid Negara, one of his most favourite spaces in the cities every time the call for prayer is called. In this interview, LiteraCity trails his fragments and memories growing in this two cities and how literature observes how the historical events unfold. 

A. Samad Said:
 There is a long poem written by Ahmad Kamal Abdullah. If I am not mistaken, the title is “Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur” and it was staged. So, to say that there are no (works talking about Kuala Lumpur), it might be a mistake. His poem was specifically written about Kuala Lumpur and it was made into a musical, danced to, and staged

[LiteraCity 2016] Perceiving Urban Literature

(Author: Zikri Rahman; originally published for LiteraCity Festival 2016)

From the depths of imagination and actual places traced by writers and theirs characters in literature, the city of Kuala Lumpur becomes alive, and will forever be so, with more 110 works of literature speaking of the city and everything in between. However, understanding Kuala Lumpur through its works of literature it is not as easy undertaking as other big cities worldwide. In James Joyce’s Dubliners about the city Dublin and Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy about Cairo, the manifestation of cities in both novels are considered to be the greatest in literature. Their novels are gracefully written, exploring every nook and corner of the city, from its architecture to every souls of its inhabitants. Both novels are now considered authoritative and part of the literary canon.

Fortunately for us, there is still room to freely and innocently explore Kuala Lumpur’s literature without the weight of a literary canon or authoritative work, in order to grasp and discover what the city of Kuala Lumpur means. Thus we are able to openly and moderately appreciate the city through various works of literature.