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:
What do the artworks of our politicians say about them?
Options The Edge, Malaysia
When the US’ President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping addressed the 75th UN General Assembly remotely in September, they had at least one thing in common — both had large artworks in the background.
President Xi had a stately painting of the Great Wall of China at dawn. The fiery mountainous landscape contrasted with Trump’s softer and more elegant set-up in the oval-shaped Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. The familiar portrait of George Washington hung in the centre, while parts of the famed panoramic Zuber & Cie wallpaper Scenes of North America — chosen by Jacqueline Kennedy — were also visible.
The pieces caught the attention of Malaysian art collector Pakhruddin Sulaiman, leading him to muse on social media: What would our own prime minister use as a backdrop for his address, if he were to do it remotely?
Almost one year later, no sign of refunds from Lokatara Festival
Jakarta Post, Indonesia
Almost one year after the ill-fated Lokatara Festival, hundreds of ticket holders still have not received the refunds promised by the promoter. The person deemed most responsible for the failed music event, founder Theo Mulyanto, has remained silent and did not respond to interview requests.
Scheduled to run at Kuningan City Ballroom in South Jakarta on Nov. 23, 2019, the festival was supposed to feature 19 artists. But just one day prior to the event, international acts such as Sales, Gus Dapperton, Great Good Fine OK and Sophie Meiers withdrew from the festival. On D-day, American band The Drums and Malaysian musician Alex TBH also announced their cancelation. As one of the most anticipated acts in the festival, The Drums stated “…circumstances out of our control…” as their reason.
In an interview with The Jakarta Post in December 2019, Mahsa Islamey, a former head of public relations at Lokatara, said that the international performers had been given regular visas instead of work permits. “It made things too risky to perform,” Mahsa said, adding that the visas were handled by the Lokatara founder. To this day, however, there is no confirmation from Theo.
Tattoos: The art that exhibits Philippine culture and history
Inquirer.net, The Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of teaching about the historical importance of marking one’s skin with indelible patterns or designs, a self-learning module – supposedly approved by the Department of Education (DepEd) – recently raised a disturbance on social media when it unconscionably associated tattoos with criminals.
In the module, the question, “Ang tattoo ay simbolo ng…” (A tattoo symbolizes…), was posed and users are given a multiple set of possible answers to choose from. Notably, however, no less than Broadway star Lea Salonga called out the module’s “key answer” to the question: “A. pagiging kriminal (being a criminal).”
She wasn’t having any of it and slammed the module via Facebook, even asking: “What kind of BS is this?”
Saigon to Host Major Street Art Festival Next Year
Saigon is banking on the festival’s success to draw international visitors back to the city after the COVID-10 pandemic subsides next year.
VnExpress reports that Saigon officials are planning to host a street arts festival from April to November of 2021. The festival, which would be the first of its kind in Vietnam, would include mural painting, an exhibition, youth workshops, seminars on street art, and music performances.
The festival will be sponsored by the French government through France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
French Consul General Vincent Floreani told the news source that this would help established Saigon as a new street art hub within Southeast Asia: “The first-ever festival promises to attract European tourists returning to Vietnam after the COVID-19 crisis.”
A community comes together
Bangkok Post, Thailand
After curating several interactive multimedia exhibitions to educate younger generations about contemporary art, River City Bangkok is now introducing a new space called Artists in Residence, home to seven studios and galleries.
Encircled with elegant antique shops on the 3rd floor, it’s designed to be an inspiring community in which visitors can observe how artists work, share ideas with them, purchase artwork and enjoy an interesting programme of workshops and classes.
“Art Basel has forecast an increase of between 6% and 19% of art buyers under the age of 40. We can certainly attest to this. We notice that more young artists and collectors are exploring Bangkok’s Creative District and our art centre,” said Linda Cheng, managing director of River City.
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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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.