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:
Five Singaporeans, one Malaysian on Epigram Books Fiction Prize shortlist
The Straits Times, Singapore
SINGAPORE – Five Singaporeans and one Malaysian are on the shortlist for the sixth Epigram Books Fiction Prize, which will be presented in a virtual ceremony on Jan 16 next year.
Among them are Sebastian Sim, 54, who won the $25,000 prize in 2017 for his satirical novel The Riot Act; and Daryl Qilin Yam, 29, whose debut Kappa Quartet was longlisted for the 2015 prize.
Newcomers to the award, Singapore’s only prize for unpublished English-language novels, include Lasalle College of the Arts lecturer Wesley Leon Aroozoo, 36; Association of Comic Artists of Singapore vice-president Boey Meihan, 43; and lawyer Pallavi Gopinath Aney, 40.
History made at night
Business World, The Philippines
Midnight in a Perfect World
Directed by Dodo Dayao
I THOUGHT Violator — Dodo Dayao’s debut feature — one of the most intriguing of recent horrors, Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s punk bastard remake of Rio Bravo with elements of the apocalypse substituting for Hawks’ handy sticks of dynamite. With Midnight in a Perfect World he steps up his game: this time he’s proposing an entire utopian society Aldous Huxley style, with a trace of fascism at the edges of this seductive demented vision.
It’s the Philippines in some undisclosed future and, as one of the lead characters puts it,, “everything works.” Trains run on time, floods are a thing of the past, pollution in the Pasig River has been cleaned up; only people in this much improved New Society don’t seem that much happier, suggesting Dayao subscribes to the belief that if humans could remove every source of dissatisfaction in their lives they’d be forced to invent something new to complain about.
For artist Yuree, protests bring political awakening
Bangkok Post, Thailand
Art portraying French revolutionaries replaced with cartoon cats and birds might not be controversial in many countries, but it is a potentially touchy subject for Thailand’s monarchy.
For artist Yuree Kensaku, 40, the political environment is a factor shaping her work as protesters call for reform of the monarchy alongside other changes.
“People have started their political awakening,” said Ms Yuree, whose latest works are being shown at the Bangkok Art Biennale.
Her art melds her Thai background with her experience as a resident artist in La Rochelle, France, where she was inspired by historical works portraying times of revolution.
Art exhibition tells stories about kampung, climate change
Jakarta Post, Indonesia
The National Gallery of Indonesia has held a virtual exhibition of murals and installation art by Semarang-based artists collective Kolektif Hysteria, exploring the urban kampung of the Central Java capital city.
Titled “Udan Salah Mongso” (Rain in the Wrong Season), the exhibition looked at how the artists responded to the global issue of climate change and the human activities that caused this.
Curator Adin of Hysteria said the phrase was used by Javanese villagers when commenting on changes to the planting and harvesting seasons as a result of unpredictable starts to the rainy season.
Traditionally, the Javanese people schedule the growing season within rendheng (rainy season) from October to April and ketigo (dry season) from April to October.
The rap stars breaking out of South East Asia
Yahoo! News, Australia
Since its humble origins in 1970s New York, hip-hop has evolved from a uniquely American phenomenon to a globalised art form.
From the Chinese ‘trap’ of Higher Brothers to the reggaeton-laced rhymes of Bad Bunny, artists around the world are creating hyper-localised styles of rap based on their respective cultures.
Judging by the meteoric success of grassroots rap stars – Korea’s Blackpink sold more than a million albums of their distinctive electro-rap in October alone – listeners can’t get enough.
And fans are embracing the genre, even where there is no common language.
“We’re at a point where language isn’t a barrier anymore,” says Jin Hackman, founder of Malaysian hiphop festival Raising The Bar.
“Look at Higher Brothers – they’ve become a global name using local slang that many Chinese people don’t even understand.”
As the industry looks for diverse talents who boast enough star power to capture the hearts of an increasingly cosmopolitan demographic, South East Asia is fast emerging as a hotspot.
About the author(s)
Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.