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:
In Politically-Charged Thailand, Artists See Role in New Pro-Democracy Movement
Skeleton soldiers, bug-eyed generals, and a boy urinating on a submarine – Thai artist Baphoboy’s provocative drawings are a smash hit among an increasingly bold pro-democracy movement largely led by students and youth activists.
“In the age of protests, art helps people to access politics,” Baphoboy, who has more than 32,500 followers on Instagram, told VICE News.
Named Sippakorn “Ken” Khiaosanthia, the 24-year-old is part of a new cohort of Thai artists using memes, social media and graffiti-style imagery to push topical boundaries.
They are working at a time when topics once considered taboo in Thailand are being debated out in the open, including unprecedented discussion about all-powerful institutions like the country’s monarchy, which is shielded by lese-majeste laws.
Salleh Ben Joned: A Most Unlikely Malay (Part 1 of 2)
ABC Radio National, Australia
Salleh Ben Joned is a witty, fearless and charismatic poet and writer that some have called the ‘bad boy of Malaysian literature’. He is a satirist, critic and libertarian, known for challenging taboos about race, religion, sexuality and a whole lot more. In this two-part documentary series, his eldest daughter Anna takes us on a wild ride through the life and times of her infuriating yet utterly loveable father. In Part 1 we hear about the influential decade the young Salleh spent in Australia where, among other things, he was a Colombo Plan scholar mentored by the controversial poet James McAuley at the University of Tasmania.
‘(Re)Imagining The Image’: Southeast Asian artists explore identity in reflection
Jakarta Post, Indonesia
A group exhibition has invited eight prominent contemporary artists from Southeast Asia, including five artists from Indonesia, to confront and engage with images that span the region’s colonial era to the present.
In the “(Re)Imagining The Image” exhibition, held until Oct. 4 at Gajah Gallery in Singapore, the artists draw upon a plethora of photographs from present-day personal pictures they took themselves to archival photographs that shed light on lost histories in their country of origin.
They then reproduced, contrasted, concealed, distorted or subverted these original images into vivid, individual objects of art in their own right, from screen prints on fabric to watery ink on paper, to hyperrealistic oil paintings on canvas and three-dimensional, mixed media.
The show’s curator Nicole Soriano said that the exhibition aimed to encourage curiosity and critical understanding of images that shaped cultures and histories.
For this Filipino writer, the best story is the hardest one to write
CNN Life, Philippines
London, United Kingdom (CNN Philippines Life) — “I never thought I would write that book,” Cinelle Barnes says. A Filipina author, who has been in the United States since her late teens, Barnes released “Monsoon Mansion” in 2018, a memoir of her early life in the Philippines, and then very quickly after, “Malaya: Essays on Freedom” in 2019. This year, she edited the anthology “A Measure of Belonging: Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South,” which comes out October.
“It was really hard to write,” Barnes says of “Monsoon Mansion,” which took her six years to complete. In contrast, she worked on “Malaya” for about six months after the positive reception of her “Monsoon,” which is a collection of essays about what came after her escape from a tumultuous childhood life. Living in a mansion with servants, her family fell into hard times from a series of events both natural and man made: the Gulf War impairs her father’s petrochemical business, a monsoon destroys the house, and her mother takes a relationship with an opportunistic lover, who turns their house into dangerous place that involves cockfighting and prostitutes. Between having to confront all the trauma these events have caused her and giving birth to her first child, Barnes was in constant negotiation between her past with her mother and her present as one.
Penangpac staff verbally abused by stubborn theatregoers who refuse to comply with Covid-19 SOP
Malay Mail, Malaysia
PETALING JAYA, Sept 21 — Staff members at the Penang Performing Arts Centre are having a difficult time carrying out Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic.
And it’s all due to unbecoming behaviour of irresponsible theatregoers who refuse to conform to the new normal amid the coronavirus health crisis.
A visitor dropped the F-bomb last week after she was asked to sit in a designated row instead of her regular favourite seat.
When explained that the measure was to help control crowds at the theatre, she replied, “That’s your problem, not mine!”
A Nation’s Hope: Singaporean filmmaker Zachary Yap on the Challenges of Storytelling Amidst a Pandemic
When independent Singaporean filmmaker, Zachary Yap, pitched two different stories to Singapore’s Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA), one could only imagine the excitement of receiving approvals for both.
However, just as pre-production began for both films, everything would take a paralysing turn as the COVID-19 pandemic battered Singapore. Production became delayed indefinitely, and the resulting uncertainty put an abrupt stop in the preparations by his team.
It was only until Phase 2 did the team manage to begin actual production, albeit with new filming and production regulations for a ‘new normal’ in place.
“Personally, I found it quite eye-opening to be making a film during a pandemic. Things operated quite differently from the usual. And being one of the earliest in the local industry to go into a film production, there were a lot of discussions and figuring things out,” Mr Yap recalls.
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.