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:
Minister: National Art Gallery to brief me after meeting on Ahmad Fuad Osman’s artwork
Malay Mail, Malaysian
“The minister said that he has already asked for a report on the “missing” artwork and will hold a discussion with the relevant people if any necessary action should be taken.
“I was made to understand some pieces hilang (went missing). I don’t know who ‘stole’ them. So when it’s missing, that means it’s empty. When it’s empty, we have removed it.
“People are not here to look at walls, they’re here to look at art,” he said when speaking to reporters after attending the opening of the Adventure Travel Conference and Mart 2020 here today.”
Taking the Khmer Rouge tragedy and turning it into music
“The play action is broken up by songs sung by the cast. Yee sourced the songs from a Cambodian-American band called Dengue Fever and also Cambodian oldies from the 1960s and ’70s, when the country was influenced by Western pop-rock. While the lyrics are in Khmer, the music stylings will sound familiar to anyone who is a fan of surf and psychedelic rock. The entire show is performed by a cast of just six Asian-American actors who all act, sing and play their own musical instruments. When asked about what it’s like to play his own personal guitar during the show, Ngo just laughs, saying, “I’ve been playing since I was 13-14. I was never that good, I just happened to get good for this show.”
So it’s part dramatic play, part rock concert, and Yee promises it all comes together: “If Cambodian Rock Band is about an oppressive regime that’s trying to wipe music and musicians off the face of the Earth, the most revolutionary thing you can do is show that music.””
Where are the curators in Myanmar’s art scene?
“ARTS reporters in Yangon have plenty of artists and gallery owners to interview, but one art world actor seems to always be missing.
Myanmar has been short on curators since the arts scene began a revival of sorts about 20 years ago. The word “curator” lacks a direct Burmese translation, and the role itself is little understood in Myanmar. Though attitudes are changing, the government and much of the public tends to view contemporary art as a novelty, with little precedent in Myanmar culture, and as an amateur passion where professional curatorship isn’t required.
Those wishing to become curators – or to work with galleries exercising a degree of curatorship – have few options. The national universities of art and culture in Yangon and Mandalay offer a degree in “Painting” that asks students to memorise only a few select details of global art history while focusing on painting techniques.”
Rice, rituals and relationality
“Hao Pei’s initial curiosity in this research was sparked in 2017, during a residency at Sa Sa Art Projects in Cambodia. He learned about the “tree ordination” movement started by a Monastery in Northwestern Thailand in the late 1980’s – wherein monks asserted their political voices by tying their robes around trees to prevent deforestation – and was determined to continue exploring the intriguing intersection between faith and environmentalism. This led him to the residency at Cemeti where he engaged local farming communities in order to learn about the local agricultural calendar (pranata mangsa) and its connection to harvest rituals (wiwitan) and the rice goddess (Dewi Sri / Mbok Sri) under the context of the Javanese belief system “kejawen.””
From Fan to Filmmaker: How Le Lam Vien Found his Confidence as an Independent Director
Urbanist Hanoi, Vietnam
“Vien later went on to study at the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema. After a year-and-a-half there, however, he’d struggled to connect with other students and couldn’t see a path for his vision within that system, so he dropped out. “I’m like a film fanatic,” he says. “I like film, and then when I get to that [university], nobody knows about film, nobody cares…”
While studying there, though, he caught the eye of a teacher during a screening of Ratatouille when indulging his unconscious habit of reciting every line out loud in class. “I just started mumbling the dialogue,” he adds, “So the teacher would say, ‘Woah, I’ve never seen this before’.” Sensing his passion, she passed along one of his films to renowned filmmaker Phan Dang Di, who recommended him to the Asian Film Academy, a three-week development program for filmmakers hosted by the Busan International Film Festival. This early opportunity offered a crucial chance to learn from industry professionals and make connections, giving him his first real taste of the industry.”
A Balance of Art: Art Moments Jakarta 2020
Jakarta Globe, Indonesia
“After a successful debut in 2019, a premium art fair organized by some of Indonesia’s major art collectors, Art Moments Jakarta, will return this year on Apr. 17 to Apr. 19 at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel.
Khai Hori, the artistic director of Art Moments Jakarta 2020, said on Tuesday the fair will carry the official theme of “Yesterday Since Tomorrow,” inspired by the concept of “moment.”
“Yesterday Since Tomorrow means today. I was inspired by the concept of ‘moment,’ the present we’re living in. Every moment in our life, every aspect of it, should always be imbued with art,” he said in a press conference at the Sheraton Grand.”
[OPINION] Why art fairs matter even to non-artists and non-collectors
Rappler, The Philippines
“Just this year, 10 of the most prominent galleries in the Philippines broke away from Art Fair Philippines and established ALT 2020. According to their statement, their vision is to create a “meaningful engagement with its visitors, artists, and professionals in the art community.”
In these art fairs, they don’t just exhibit great works of art, but amplify relevant social issues. In previous years, some of the topics presented were heritage conservation, cultural diversity, environmental concerns, diaspora, religion, EJKs, and corruption.”
Culture Collective Studio’s Loni Berry On The Struggles, Charms And Future Of Stage Plays In Bangkok
“So what are the struggles of this art form?
I think the biggest struggle of theatre is that it’s so inconvenient. It’s not as convenient as other forms of entertainment, for instance, a movie, which is much easier to enjoy with a larger group of people. You don’t even need to leave your house to see a movie.
I don’t think the popular culture in Bangkok encourages people to go to theatres. Just from the fact that there are so few live theatres in Bangkok really proves that statement. Any city in the Western World of this size and this level of sophistication and diversity would be packed with theatres, but there are only two or three professional English speaking theatres here and maybe one or two amateur ones. That’s not a lot.”
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.