ArtsEquator 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. Here’s a round-up of content from this week, scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms, and brought together in one article for convenient reading.
Acclaimed artist Anida Yoeu Ali to unleash the Bug in KL
One of acclaimed Cambodian-born US-based artist Anida Yoeu Ali’s provocative works is set to land at Wei-Ling Contemporary in KL this month.
The exhibition The Buddhist Bug: A Creation Mythology combines live performance, installation, photography, and video art.
The Buddhist Bug, which runs between June 19 and Aug 18, probes the issues of displacement and belonging, as it comes from the artist’s personal spiritual and cultural turmoil, as a woman born in Cambodia, who was raised in the US.
Anida, 45, will be in town on June 19 for a performance at the show’s opening reception (at 7pm) at Wei-Ling Contemporary.
Police Open Cases against Prominent Activist, 4 Others for Supporting Jailed Performers
YANGON—Police have filed lawsuits against well-known democracy activist Ma Nilar Thein and four youth activists under four articles of the Penal Code over their support for a group of students who were jailed for criticizing the military in a satirical performance.
Police from Yangon’s Botahtaung Township opened the cases against Ma Nilar Thein, Ko Nan Lin, Ko Naing Ko Thu, Ko Min Han Htet and Shar Yamone under articles 114, 186, 332 and 353 on Tuesday for allegedly abetting an offence, as well as obstructing and causing hurt and assault to deter police officers from discharging their duties.
The offences carry possible sentences ranging from three months to three years in prison, as well as fines.
At a court hearing for the jailed students, who belong to the Peacock Generation thangyat troupe, in Botahtaung Township on Monday, scuffles broke out between police and supporters of the students—including the five who have now been sued—as police attempted to bundle them inside the courtroom upon their arrival. When asked by their supporters why they had arrived at the court late, the detainees said it was because the police had used force against them while handcuffing them, slowing the process down. Thangyat is a traditional Myanmar performance art that often involves political satire.
Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger
In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde filmmaker Mara Mattuschka, and performance art with Marina Abramović at the Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) between 1994 and 2001. After completing her postgraduate study in performance art in 2002 at HBK, Suryodarmo was invited, along with other students, to perform at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 alongside Abramović. Since then, she has been included in countless exhibitions and events, including Egon Schiele: Love and Death at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Videobrasil in São Paulo, both in 2005; KIASMA, Helsinki, in 2007; Manifesta 7 in Bolzano, Italy, in 2009; and Luminato Festival in Toronto in 2012.
Watch the Impressive Trailer of Nguyen Dynasty Historical Drama ‘Phuong Khau’
Phuong Khau is an original series set during the Nguyen dynasty, chronicling the life of Empress Dowager Tu Du, the mother of Emperor Tu Duc.
According to Tuoi Tre, Phuong Khau will be available to watch for free on YouTube in early 2020. Directed by Huynh Tuan Anh, who is known for his 2017 film Lo To, the series will be divided into three parts with a total of 18 60-minute episodes.
The screenplay is written by Ton That Minh Khoi, a descendant of the eighth Nguyen Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. Khoi is also the founder of Thien Nam Lich Dai Hau Phi, a group of friends who are devoted to researching power struggles and politics among women in the court and the dynasty’s culture. The group also acts as the co-producer of the web drama.
“Vietnamese history rarely took account of women in the palace, so it’s remarkable that the team behind this project has been able to put the pieces together to produce a web series on this topic,” Professor Le Van Lan, the project’s historical advisor, told Tuoi Tre.
Richie Lerma on auctions, Juan Luna, and ‘Important Philippine Art’
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In 2018, the Salcedo Auctions made a record sale of ₱73 million with the boceto, or the ‘draft’, of Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium.” This episode in Philippine art was both celebrated and controversial. Some people asked how an important piece of history could just fall under an auction house’s gavel. But it was also a find that continues a Luna-related saga that seems to be a common theme for this auction house.
“[The “Spoliarium” boceto] was just hanging in a hallway in the [owner’s] apartment,” recalls Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma. “They didn’t even know what they had. They just inherited it from a long lost aunt who called them to her deathbed and said, ‘Take what you want.’ That’s essentially how they got it.”
Another rare Luna piece, “Aesop after Velasquez,” ended up in Salcedo Auctions.
“It was found in a Swiss Auction house being sold for practically nothing,” says Lerma. “In that particular case, we uncovered a photograph in the collection of the Frick museum by a German photographer in the 1890s who took the time to visit all of the studios of the known artists working in Paris at that time and he happened to take a photograph of Luna in his studio and that painting was there. Nobody even knew of its existence.”
The Pillars of Sabah: From the ashes, a derelict space becomes a community art space
KOTA KINABALU, May 14 — Where once the burnt-out pillars in the heart of this city were a reminder of a terrible fire which destroyed the handsome pre-World War II colonial-style Land and Survey Building we now have a community art project.
Over the years the building was converted into the Social Welfare Department and then later the office for the Society for the Blind.
In the 1990s, there was a proposal that the heritage building be turned into an art gallery, but it caught fire in 1992 and all that was left were the concrete foundation and 30 pillars facing the open sky.
Last September, a group of artists turned the abandoned site into an art showcase; “Pillars of Sabah 1” focused on a selection of Sabah personalities who have achieved significant success or played a role in the state’s development.
Sawunggaling, Ani Yudhoyono’s Favorite and Last Batik
Former first lady Kristiani Herrawati, better known as Ani Yudhoyono, who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer, was famous for her love of Indonesian textiles, especially batik.
Before her death, Ani had prepared a batik to be worn by the Yudhoyono family on Idul Fitri. The motif was called Sawunggaling, one usually reserved for special occasions.
Ani’s Sawunggaling batik was in the end used to cover her body after her death. Covering a dead person’s body with batik is common in Indonesia.
About the author(s)
Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of ArtsEquator.com, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.