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.
In Cambodia, Politics Push Musicians Into Self-Censorship
PHNOM PENH — Rapper Chhun Dymey seems to have struck a chord in Cambodia. He was somewhat of an unknown until his song, “This Society,” went viral last month, shared on social media platforms that included opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s YouTube channel.
Since then, police have visited Chhun Dymey’s parents’ home and his workplace and the 24-year-old artist, also known as Dymey-Cambo, has deleted it from his social media accounts. (At the time of this story’s publication it remained viewable online on Cambodian activist and politician Sam Rainsy’s account.)
The song touches on a range of social and political issues and is seen as critical of the government.
‘We want to build a community of Bruneian filmmakers’
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – When you step into the sleek hallways of Brunei’s first filmmaking college – with its slick film studio, sound and editing suites — it’s like being transported on to the set of a Hollywood movie.
The Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia is the brainchild of local director Siti Kamaluddin and her producing partner Munji Athirah, who both felt the country had a strong talent for content creation but lacked one key ingredient — proper training in the art of filmmaking.
Siti, whose first feature film, Yasmine, met international acclaim, last year released Hari Minggu Yang Ke-Empat (The Fourth Sunday), a movie filmed on location in a perpindahan, with an entirely Bruneian cast.
Kyee Myint Saw’s “Nude is Art”
Myanmar culture often likes to portray women as demure, wearing long dresses covering the body. Nudity is seldom celebrated, except perhaps in depictions of breastfeeding or bathing in the country.
This is also the case in art, where it is rare to see the painted naked female form – leisurely sitting or self-consciously posing at home.
Kyee Myint Saw’s nudes are striking for many reasons.
Ch’ng Kiah Kiean prioritises slow living in order to make soulful art
If the story of your life could be told in a series of images, what would it look like?
Penang-based artist Ch’ng Kiah Kiean is not telling the whole tale here, but he offered bits and pieces of his everyday in Close Objects at the Oriental Art and Cultural Centre (OACC) in Kuala Lumpur recently.
In this exhibition, he lingered on familiar sights and sounds – the potted plants, the air limau bungkus, the roast duck for dinner, corn bought from the market, flowers withering by the roadside.
Talk about flashes of memories and glimpses of the present – and just sometimes, they are one and the same.
Play says ‘No’ to violence against LGBT
IN RECENT weeks, a photo of the bloodied faces of Melania Gaymonat and her girlfriend Chris went viral online. While on a bus ride in the early hours of May 30 in London, the women were attacked by a group of young men for refusing their demand to kiss each other. “They started beating me, I was bleeding all over — I was really bleeding,” Ms. Gaymonat told BBCWorldatOne. According to a report by The Guardian on June 8, a fifth arrest has been made in connection with the attack.
In the continuing fight for LGBT rights and the legalization of same sex unions, homophobic violence and abuse persists. And it has to stop.
As an examination of hate crimes and their effect on its victims, Positive Space, MusicArtes, and New Voice Company will present Diana Son’s Stop Kiss in July for a limited run at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati City.
Directed by Gawad Buhay and Aliw Award-winning director and designer Ed Lacson, Jr., the play is set in New York City and follows traffic reporter Callie who is comfortable with her routine at work and occasionally joins her like-minded friends. Callie then meets Sara who has just arrived in the city to teach. The strength of their relationship is challenged after the ladies share their first kiss at NYC’s West Village late one evening and a bystander viciously attacks them.
Local Filmmaker Thang Soi Launches Vietnam-Centric Stock Footage Service
Thang Soi is well-known for majestic flycam projects such as Vietnam – Dream of Unity (Non Song Mot Dai) and Vietnam From Above. Thang also does commercial work for flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and creates other tourism promotional content.
The local videographer recently announced in a Facebook post that he and a group of fellow creatives have recently developed a stock photo and video platform service named Vscape. The name is a portmanteau of “Vietnam” and “landscape.”
“A number of local media companies in Vietnam have bought my photos for projects that need images about the country. And there are companies outside Vietnam who have done the same when they need decent visual materials about Vietnam,” Thang writes in Vietnamese, adding that because he keeps getting requests for photos of Vietnam, he sees the need to build a stock image platform so that these transactions can be more convenient for photographers and clients.
How Asia’s civil rights movements awakened its avant-garde art style: National Gallery Singapore show
South China Morning Post
The American civil rights movement in 1963; the Stonewall Inn riot that sparked the gay liberation movement; the French student movement that led to widespread protests in May 1968. These Western civil-rights landmarks are familiar to many in Asia, either through school or via the big screen.
By comparison, Asians tend to know little about each other’s civil-rights movements. A new exhibition at the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) wants to change that.
“Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia, 1960s-1990s” is a joint production by the NGS, the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (MOMAT), the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea (MMCA) and the Japan Foundation Asia Centre. It features 142 artworks by more than 100 artists from 12 countries in Asia and plots how the emergence of avant-garde art often went hand in hand with the ousting of old ideology, rapid modernisation and the spread of democratic movements in the region.
Dragons and denim — Thai artist explores myth through metaphor
Nikkei Asia Review
BANGKOK — Mud-caked forest dwellers caress laser beams of unearthly green light. A glittering, not-altogether-human figure performs a primordial dance; a narrator declares: “Words make worlds, but worlds fall apart.”
Artist Korakrit Arunanondchai does not lack the power of invention. If anything, the Thai-born and New York-based 33-year-old may possess too much.
His latest work — a video-and-sculpture installation on show in the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale, which opened in the Italian city on May 11 — is a case in point.
Part cine-essay, part documentary, part spectacle, “No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5” is a high-voltage onslaught of found and original footage (rhapsodic music-video-style segments, drone footage, news reports and hand-held video) accompanied by hypnotic music and Korakrit’s gnomic musings on the unseen forces shaping our reality.
Ensconced in a techno-organic landscape created with the help of regular collaborator Alex Gvojic, its three giant screens reveal a swollen ensemble of characters, among them a band of white-clothed acolytes, a veterinarian, the artist’s frail grandparents and a bare-breasted avatar of the naga, the river-dwelling dragon of Southeast Asian folklore, played by the gender-fluid American performance artist boychild.
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.