Jim Selkin

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: Indonesian webcomics spark joy; “come try” forum theatre

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.

Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:


One of Artist Htein Lin’s exhibited at the River gallery in Yangon on May 8, 2019. Photo via Myanmar Times
A look back at Myanmar’s art scene in 2019
Myanmar Times

“The Htamein Katesa (Skirting Issues) exhibition held in May by famous artist Htein Lin was also another highlight. Htein Lin used the exhibition to address via art Myanmar’s acceptance of old customs, especially the belief that if men pass under a woman’s htamein or skirt, they would lose the hpoun, roughly translated as manliness.

The artist used his skills to portray women on old htamein and also made installations out of old htamein .The exhibition became a hot topic on social media and served admirably as a tool to get ordinary people to talk about the unquestioning acceptance of old customs.”

[Read more…]


Sornchai, in blue, during a recent role-playing workshop. Photo via Bangkok Post
Empowering the voiceless
Bangkok Post, Thailand

“”Standing up and making our voices heard may not always end well. But if we do nothing, we continue to stay oppressed, giving more power to those who hold it above us. At least we get to move forward by speaking up, and in this process we may be able to find more solutions to what we are facing,” he said.

“No need to agree. Even better to disagree,” explained Sornchai of the theatre’s motive, which is to stimulate a collective debate. One thing audiences will not get from Theatre of the Oppressed is a conclusion being spoon-fed to them.”

[Read more…]


A quiet moment backstage. Photo: Jim Selkin
An Opera Lover’s Introduction to Cải Lương
Saigoneer, Vietnam

“Emerging from the shrine, I faced a stage ringed with elaborate red embroidered curtains serving as a backdrop, creating a regal ambiance. A few of the actors were arriving and began their makeup and dressing in elaborate costumes, which can take up to two hours per character.

I should say that I had backstage access to the casts of both the New York City and Metropolitan Operas, and thus was used to star-studded dressing rooms. However, there were no such elaborate dressing rooms here. The actors grabbed whatever space afforded them to begin their pre-performance rituals. The female star, Tu Suong, was afforded a seemingly larger dressing area, where she was attended to by three women who dutifully fanned and otherwise assisted her.”

[Read more…]


The photography exhibit “Not Visual Noise” attempts to present the broad, diverse scope of Philippine photography from the late 20th century until today, bringing together works that have rarely been exhibited in one space. Photo courtesy of ATENEO ART GALLERY
The Filipino photographer in the age of social media
CNN Philippines

“Set up on a panel at the center of the next room is a series by Carlo Gabuco, where one side reveals portraits of Marcos cult members, and the other shows portraits of martial law victims. Next to each photo are QR codes, which viewers are invited to scan to listen to their stories — to enter into their radically contrasting truths, wherein neither is any less real.

“Hindi naghihilom, hindi nagsasara ang sugat,” says Joey Faustino, whose socially engaged brother had disappeared just before he was set to graduate college at 21. Four decades later, Faustino sits on a couch for his portrait, wearing a shirt that reads, “I don’t need therapy.” But in a letter to his departed brother, he begs for answers. “Talk to me even from beyond, however muted and muffled. Take me where they left you, can you do that?””

[Read more…]


In a photo taken on July 7, 2019, Zentai performers strike a pose at the PAssionArts Festival. Official figures last year show the number of performing arts events rose from around 7,700 in 2011 to more than 9,500 in 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE
Parliament: Bring back TV and radio arts stations, says Nominated MP Terence Ho
The Straits Times, Singapore

“Mr Ho’s call to reinstate a radio station and TV channel to promote the arts was one of several suggestions he made in Parliament “to build a sustainable and vibrant community arts ecosystem”.

He also suggested having a central warehouse for the arts community where props and sets can be stored, shared and re-used; as well as different hubs designed specifically for music, theatre or dance groups (with one art form per hub), which he thinks would allow resources and rehearsal spaces to be more effectively shared.”

[Read more…]


A Garland for My Father (2019) by Anurendra Jegadeva. Photo via New Straits Times
Artists reflect on their personal turning points in an evocative exhibition
New Straits Times, Malaysia

“Fast forward to 2018, Pakatan Harapan won the general elections and became the new government of Malaysia. However, there still doesn’t seem to be any urgency in making the “Bersih” aspirations come true. Instead, there are attempts to make people hate each other again using the same old British trick. I’m really at a loss at this seemingly turning point.

All I know is that people from my generation love each other. More than ever, NOW represents our turning point! We should build our country up with love instead of hate: “I am Malaysian and I love everyone else.” This wearable artwork will travel around and will continue to question the movement: How far has the “Bersih” movement progressed? When should Lynas be stopped?”

[Read more…]


Going digital: Indonesian comic creators have turned to social media, mostly Instagram, to showcase their creativity and reach audiences. (Courtesy of tahilalats.com)
Webcomics spread joy, laughter on Instagram
The Jakarta Post, Indonesia

“Tahilalats is one of the most followed Instagram comics in the country. Since its beginnings in 2014, the comic has touched on just about everything – from love, friendships and family to working life – with story lines that trigger laughter, and at times confusion, with their absurd plot twists.

The artist behind Tahilalats, Nurfadli Mursyid, who named his work after a mole near his lip, said he simply aimed to entertain.”

[Read more…]


The performance will be a symbiosis of the Cambodian Ramayana and Mozart’s The Magic Flute opera. Photo via Khmer Times
On again, off again: Opera at Angkor on again
Khmer Times, Cambodia

“After several years of planning and a slew of date changes, the much anticipated operatic extravaganza titled Mozart At Angkor now seems set to happen for certain this November.

In December, the musical director Australian-born and Italian-based Aaron Carpenè issued an announcement saying, “I am pleased to announce the Gala premiere performance of Mozart at Angkor in November 2020, presided by His Majesty the King of Cambodia.”

[Read more…]


ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar.

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