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:
Malaysian-made ‘Legend of Ancient Borneo’ is the first short film entirely in Kadazan
Mashable Southeast Asia
There are plenty of things to be sad about in Malaysia: The never-ending Movement Control Order extensions and Ramadan bazaars being cancelled in several states around the nation being some of those reasons.
But Malaysians are staying strong. And the streak of representation in the art industry continues from best-selling authors pushing the nation onto the global literary map to now, an animated film that is making waves as the first ever short-film entirely in Kadazan.
Introducing Legend of Ancient Borneo.
Based on the short fantasy comic created by Kwan Thung Seng (also known as Aks Kwan) and Robertson Sondoh Jr., the film is based on local folklore in Sabah and aims to stir interest within toward Borneo’s culture and heritage.
‘Pasar Rakyat Lasem’ online marketplace supports batik artisans
A new e-commerce platform called Pasar Rakyat Lasem (Lasem Community Market) is the latest initiative to emerge that is supporting artisans and small businesses outride the epidemic.
Pasar Rakyat Lasem, which uses the domain name kesengsemlasem.com meaning “crazy about Lasem”, is dedicated to giving visitors a taste of the town’s unique culture.
Curated by fashion designer Didiet Maulana, the online marketplace features products under three categories: kriya (crafts), rasa (cuisines) and wastra (textiles).
Didiet said the initiative was born out of many people’s desire to buy Lasem products, but hadn’t had a chance to visit the town.
Centenarian film connoisseur
Daw Khin Hle, who turns 100 in January, watches in bewilderment as the broadcast media replays the State Counselor’s hand-washing demonstrations. It never ceases to amaze her whenever she spends hours in front of the TV, just how repetitive things are.
She murmurs “why do we always see her washing her hands?”. Her son just explained to her how the disease spreads outside, and how important hand-washing is.
The 100-year-old Daw Khin Hle doesn’t know there is a global pandemic at the moment. How peaceful her life is! Every morning she enjoys reading the state-run Mirror newspaper in the sun outside, before returning inside to watch old movies, and to reminisce about the past.
Daw Khin Hle is the grand-daughter of U Ba Nyunt, founder of Myanmar Aswe (which later became the A1 Film Company). By the 1930s A1 set up a 22-acre studio in 8 ½ Mile, in a building formerly known as Old Tourist Burma building. A1 quickly became Myanmar’s premier film studios, complete with a lake and forestland, a barn and its own row of houses. It was referred to as the“Burma Hollywood”.
Circular art reflects on Buddhism
Up-and-coming Thai artist Pannaphan Yodmanee’s latest mixed solo media exhibition titled “Time Lapse” comes at a befitting moment as Thailand’s art scene slowly resurfaces from the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Pannaphan, whose work has been showcased in exhibitions in France, Japan, Australia and China, examines here the relevance of Buddhist philosophy in our present day lives in this exhibition, which will be held at the gallery La Lanta Fine Art from June 6 to July 29.
The 32-year-old goes all out in employing a combination of raw, natural materials and objects of contemporary origins in her work which imbue the painted designs and motifs endemic to traditional Thai art with the universal and persistent themes of loss, suffering, devastation and the karmic cycles of death and rebirth.
Consistent to the theme which she has probed through her artistic practice, “Time Lapse” presents eight circular artworks that combine elements of contemporary and traditional Thai art. She mixes natural raw materials such as rocks, precious stones, and gold leaf with modern science such as cements and paints to create a heavily textured artwork.
The City as Text: Chợ Trời and the Representation of an Invisible Hanoi
Despite being the largest marketplace in the city since the 1950s, and still the oldest temporary market in town, Troi Market (chợ Trời) doesn’t appear in delightful pieces of literature or art like the Old Quarter, West Lake and Ba Dinh Square.
It seems that most older Hanoians consider the sound of the electric trains and the crowded nature of Dong Xuan Market in the subsidy era as part of their collective memory, but the bustling sounds of Troi Market are unfamiliar.
Since the middle years of this decade, and especially after President Obama’s visit to Vietnam in September 2016, people overseas have started seeing advertisements for Hanoi on CNN.
The city has been depicted in western media as a city of combinations: prestigious culture and industrialization, old pagodas and shopping malls, a veteran of the past, and mediator of the present and future. This also applies to the nation’s PR campaign on an international scale.
Can the theater industry survive in the ‘new normal’?
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Back in March, a mass cancellation of events, including theater productions with months’ worth of preparation, ensued due to the spread of coronavirus in the Philippines. When the community quarantine was declared, at least 20 professional and collegiate theater productions were indefinitely postponed. Some shows like Repertory Philippines’ “Anna in the Tropics” and Atlantis Theatrical’s “The Band’s Visit” were forced to close before they even got the chance to open.
With jobs that rely on live performances, thousands of theater professionals have suddenly found themselves without any source of income. Performers, designers, production staff, and technical crew alike had no means of earning money during a time of crisis. Without projects in the foreseeable future, they are left vulnerable.
As the pandemic continues to devastate the country, other events in the following months are left to either be cancelled or postponed. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has just announced that all the resident companies’ seasons are officially cancelled for the rest of the year. All ballet performances, live concerts, and theatre productions are affected.
Theater artists keep their spirits up by shifting the medium of storytelling from onstage to online. These past few months, a broader Filipino audience was exposed to local plays and musicals, witnessing a fraction of the big world of Philippine theater. Several theater groups have streamed performances, uploaded entire shows, or performed staged readings online. This includes the CCP, which has recently strengthened its digital presence on social media and YouTube to offer cultural performances to a larger Filipino audience.
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.