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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: Hallyu love and cementing disaster

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 has been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.

Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:

Crash Landing On You tells a tale of star-crossed lovers from either side of the 38th Parallel. Photo © Netflix
Castles in the sky – How Korean film and television took over the world and how Thailand can follow in its footsteps
Bangkok Post

“We may look to South Korea with admiration and even idolisation. However, we shouldn’t stop at that. We have to see what we can do next to improve our own creative economy as they have done. We have good resources, content and culture in our hands. But we have to figure out how there could be better audience participation and also a clear policy of support from the state,”

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The cave art discovered in Sulawesi portrays a group of part-human, part-animal figures hunting large mammals with spears or ropes. Photograph: Ratno Sardi/Griffith University
World’s oldest art under threat from cement mining in Indonesia
The Guardian

The oldest known figurative paintings in the world, located near a cement mine in Indonesia, are under threat from industry, scientists have warned.

In December, cave paintings depicting a hunting scene in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi were dated to at least 40,000 years ago.

But their condition is fragile. They are located inside land controlled by the Tonasa Cement Company, which determines who is allowed to visit the site. Although Tonasa has cooperated with local bodies to secure the area, mining continues all around the site.

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A portrait of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos taken by Lauren Greenfield during the filming of “The Kingmaker.” (Courtesy of Evergreen Pictures/Lauren Greenfield)
Philippines fired up over Imelda Marcos documentary
NIKKEI Asian Review

Chris Millado, the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ vice president and artistic director, who made the call to show the film, confessed between screenings that some board members were angry they had not been consulted. But in a subsequent speech to cinemagoers, Millado was unrepentant, noting that the “The Kingmaker” was a reminder “we should never forget.”

Will “The Kingmaker” beat the censors and be screened across the country? And will the Philippines keep its fragile democracy?

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Photos Reveal Impact of Illegal Banana Plantations on Workers, Land in Myanmar’s Kachin State
The Irrawaddy

An ongoing exhibition of photographs by young local documentary photographer Hkun Li spotlights the negative impact of illegal banana plantations in Kachin State on the environment and the health of workers, largely due to excessive use of pesticides and chemicals.

The exhibition, “The Price of Bananas”, opened on Feb. 19 and runs through March 11 at Maha Bandoola Park as part of the 12th Yangon Photo Festival.

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Maniam’s writing has touched on issues pertinent to Malaysia that transcended generations (Photo: Five Arts Centre/Jo Kukathas)
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 “The tiger I’m going to show you can’t be shot,”
“I’ll see it and possess it!”
“Nobody can possess it.”

These are the lines from KS Maniam’s famous story Haunting the Tiger (1990), which broke and reformed a lens upon which Malaysian readers viewed the idea of identity. The story spoke of a second-generation Indian immigrant, Muthu, who tries to assimilate into the local culture – all of which was portrayed through a metaphorical journey of hunting the tiger.

The majestic striped animal, a national emblem that represents the country’s spirit and soul, is posited as metaphor for land. By hunting the ‘tiger’ then, Muthu is seen to be searching for attributes that would make him one with the land, a native of the country.

It’s a familiar narrative that still strikes a chord among us as themes of belonging and racial tension continue to be relevant today. The main takeaway from Maniam’s stories, whether you’re ploughing through In Return (1981) or In A Far Country (1993), which reflect attempts of people trying to put down roots in Malaysian soil, is that the past is always present. Maniam, who illuminated our realities through myths in incandescent prose, took the canon and broke it open.

Which makes his passing even more poignant.

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At a press conference to launch the events. (Photo: dantri.com.vn)
Three major fine arts events in 2020 launched
Nhân Dân

The Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has recently organised the launch of three major art events of the year, including the National Young Fine Arts Festival 2020, the Vietnam Fine Art Exhibition 2020, and the third ASEAN Graphic Arts Competition and Exhibition.

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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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