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Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: Regional take on arty banana; arts centre on Fish Island

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:

Youth groups led by Anakbayan and Panday Sining gather in a silent protest in front of the Manila Police District on Wednesday, December 4. Photo from Anakbayan Media
Artists, musicians raise funds to free activists who spray-painted LRT posts

MANILA, Philippines – Artists and musicians are raising funds to help post bail for 3 activists who remain in detention a week after they were arrested while spray-painting political slogans on the posts of the Light Rail Transit Recto Station in Manila.

Four members of the group Panday Sining, including a minor, were charged with vandalism after policemen caught them in spray-painting public property last Saturday, November 30, after a Bonifacio Day program. Their messages included calls to end martial law.

Three of the suspects were identified as Jeanne Vaughn Quijano, 24; Joven Laura, 24; and Mikhail Collado, 18. The minor has been released.

Panday Sining said those who arrested their members were plainclothes men, who allegedly manhandled the activists.

[Read more…]


3 Panday Sining members freed on bail

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Police District (MPD) released from detention three members of Panday Sining after they posted bail yesterday afternoon.

The Metropolitan Trial Court ordered the release of Jeanne Vaugh Nico Quijano, 24; Joven Francis Laura, 24, and Mikhail Collado, 18, after they posted bail of P6,700 each.

[Read more…]


Cartoonist Myay Zar draws a cartoon. Photos: Nyo Me
Sein Myauk Myauk
Myanmar Times

Sein Myauk Myauk, the affectionate nickname for “monkey” in Burmese, is often used to describe children playing. It’s a phrase that captures the mischievous nature of young minds.

In the 1990s illustrator Myay Zar helped popularise the phrase through his comic-book creation Shwe Thwe (Golden Blood). Myay Zar’s Sein Myauk Myauk was the main character in the state-own publication, which published bilingual stories about the monkey’s adventures.

Sein Myauk Myauk’s inquisitiveness gets the better of him in each story, making him vulnerable to mistakes and embarrassing mishaps. These “mishaps” aren’t disastrous, but rather provide the moral insight for each story.

Myay Zar’s house doubles as his office, where he has worked for the past 40 year. It is a house centered around his passion for illustrating, with new drawings and sketches sitting beside piles of old copies of the various magazines he’s worked for.

[Read more…]


Photo: San Art Facebook Page.
Saigon Independent Art Space San Art Launches Fundraising Exhibition This Month

Founded in 2007 by four artists including Dinh Q. Le, Tiffany Chung, Tuan Andrew Nguyen and Ha Thuc Phu Nam, the space is one of Saigon’s pioneer independent, non-profit and artist-initiated art platforms.

San Art recently announced its upcoming exhibition titled Opaque Signs, which features works donated by nine Vietnamese and international artists to raise funds for the organization. The organization will also introduce their newly renovated space after closing its gallery for one month in November.

Some of the artists featured in Opaque Signs include Ly Hoang Ly, a poet and a visual artist whose art has been exhibited inside and outside of Vietnam; Richard Streitmatter-Tran, a researcher, co-founder of art space Dia Project and an artist whose focus straddles different mediums including performance, new media, sculpture and painting; and Uu Dam Tran Nguyen, who juxtaposes urbanscapes and ancient Asian mythologies in one of his most recent exhibitions at Galerie Quynh.

“Though diverse in terms of forms, concepts and references, these gifts share a material element of luminosity. As store signs made of neon and LED lights proliferate across Vietnamese cities, light becomes a default symbol of pervasive commerce, of sleepless advertisement, of a permanent ‘on’ mode of being, perennially open to transaction,” reads the exhibition text written by Nguyen Hoang Quyen.

[Read more…]


Photo: Fish Island Arts Centre
Fish Island Arts Centre raised on rice fields
Khmer Times

AN arts centre raised on rice fields in Kampot? Why not. To recall an unparalleled story, an architect friend Zamani and his wife Esther ‘singlehandedly’ built a resort in Kedah (coastal state in northern Peninsular Malaysia) smack on rice fields in the middle of nowhere, using virgin timber (mostly toppled trees) and (Jurassic-aged) stones, pebbles sourced from the Malayan jungle streams. Today, their resort built over 10 years has a master treehouse bungalow with chalets and swimming pool at a seaside location that escaped the ‘Killer Tsunami of 2004’. You can see Penang island from what is now called ‘Zamani’s Place’, an architectural wonder.

Back to Kampot, this bold rice-field concept has seen the recently launched ‘Fish Island Community Arts Centre’ (FICAC) on Trey Koh (Fish Island). Conceived as a contemporary arts hatchery built on re-claimed rice fields, FICAC will comprise a permanent theatre, arts studios and residency where local and international projects can be staged. FICAC officially opened on Nov 23, 2019, with a special concert presenting the “Cambodian Women of Song” (see pic right, above).

It is the brainchild of a Cambodian and Australian couple Kek Soon and Julien Poulson — with backgrounds in music, cuisine, hospitality, tourism, arts & culture and community development. FICAC originated from their KAMA arts house.

Jeihan’s ‘Aku’ (Me, 1963), oil on canvas. Collection of Museum MACAN (Courtesy of Museum MACAN/Gift from the artist)
In Memoriam: Jeihan, he has gone home
Jakarta Post

“Hari terang

Hati tenang

Burung terbang

Bunga kembang

Aku pulang”

(The day is bright; The heart is calm; A bird flies; A flower blooms; I am going home)


Indonesian artist and poet Jeihan Sukmantoro spontaneously composed the above poem during a talk at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN) in April this year.

Jeihan passed away at his studio in Bandung, West Java, on Nov. 29 at the age of 81. The poem hints that he was ready for his passing.

Born in the Central Java town Surakarta on Sept. 26, 1938, the artist began his career in 1953 at the Surakarta Cultural Association (HBS), where he trained under renowned painters Dullah and Soedibio.

He studied alongside painters including Srihadi Soedarsono and Fadjar Sidik as well as poets Sapardi Djoko Damono, Remy Silado and WS Rendra.

[Read more…]


Thailand’s Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi leaves the ballroom at the Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, California, on Nov. 8. (Photo by Marrian Zhou)
Thai princess leads film push into overseas markets
Nikkei Asian Review

LOS ANGELES — The ballroom at the Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, California, was packed with guests in evening gowns and tuxedos, black-suited security guards and a scrum of photographers. The smell of coconut and sticky-rice pudding filled the air as the guests sipped champagne and waited for royalty to arrive.

To the flash of cameras, Thailand’s Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi made her way gracefully down the red carpet, clad in a black chiffon dress and diamond earrings. Her Royal Highness was there to pitch Thailand’s film business — and by extension its tourism industry, the lifeblood of the kingdom’s economy.

“[It is] thanks to the talent of our filmmakers and technicians that our industry has grown so fast, and, in the time span of a few decades, has established itself as Southeast Asia’s leading production and postproduction center,” the princess said, addressing the crowd in fluent English.

[Read more…]


U Sein Myint shows one of his Purapaik paintings. Lae Phyu Pya Myo Myint/The Myanmar Times
Antique Purapaik paintings revealed
Myanmar Times

Aside from its ancient architecture, stunning sunsets and balloon rides, Bagan is also a place where tourists like to buy traditional paintings – scenes of pagodas, village life, cosmology written large on an elephant’s foot. Though these are typically sold by children looking for a few thousand kyat, the paintings have their origins in a much longer history – stretching back to the Bagan dynasty itself, over a thousand years ago.

During the dynastic era artisans were commissioned by the king and monks to illustrate the walls of the temples with Buddha images, floral designs and scenes of village life. It was a tradition that spread throughout the country, to places like Pinya, Innwa and Taungoo, where murals were more or less the soap operas and newspapers of the day – conveying values about how to best to live a virtuous life.

In the early Yadanapon dynasty in Mandalay, Purapaik paintings became all the rage. Purapaik paintings were applied to folded manuscripts and, due to their portable nature, quickly became a more popular way to convey information about the Buddha’s teachings than the murals on immovable structures like walls and temples.

Royal events were often depicted in these paintings, with court artists capturing the details of important moments in the lives of the kings and queens. Purapaik paintings are essentially folded manuscripts, where the artist can depict a narrative on both sides of the canvas.

[Read more…]


Photo via Marketing Interactive
Going ‘bananas’ for art part II: More regional brands showcase their creative side
Marketing Interactive

It seems like the buzz surrounding the duct-taped banana art is not dying down anytime soon, as more brands worldwide have jumped on it to showcase their wit. If you are still not caught up on the news, we have got you covered.

Recently, a duct-taped banana art titled “Comedian” by an Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan was sold for US$120,000 at Art Basel in Miami. Shortly after, brands including BMW, Manulife, Pepsi, Burger King, and Clean and Green Singapore tickled netizens by publishing their own take of the duct-taped banana art on social media. Here are the other brands which had their own take on the art.

[Read more…]


Ida voices lead character Ejen Ali. Photo via The Star
Meet the voice behind 12-year-old Ejen Ali: Ida Rahayu Yusoff
The Star

Voice actress Ida Rahayu Yusoff didn’t plan on being a part of animation series Ejen Ali initially.

“I was in charge of compiling and scheduling the auditioners actually. But after the audition process, the directors still couldn’t find the right voice, ” she tells StarLifestyle.

Ida – who incidentally has experience as a voice actress, previously voicing a supporting character on Upin & Ipin – found herself going from coordinating the auditions to being approached with the opportunity to voice the lead character on Ejen Ali.

Local animation studio Wau Animation eventually gave the job to Ida.

Ejen Ali – an animation series which chronicles the adventures of a 12-year-old schoolboy turned spy – went on air in 2016 and has since churned out two seasons.

[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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