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:
Celebrating hip hop beats
On August 11 1973 – some 46 years ago – a teenage girl Cindy Campbell held a birthday party in a Bronx apartment in New York. Fed up with the contemporary disco and older funk music, so the myth goes, she asked her brother Clive to DJ at the party. He created his own style of music, which focused on sampling beats from other records and “rapping” his own lyrics.
Clive Campbell was so-named DJ Kool Herc, and the foundations of rap music were born. Rap would later evolve throughout the 1980s and 1990s, through turn-table scratching into hip hop.
Having established itself as an urban black cultural style in the US, hip hop became more global during the early 2000s, appealing to many different peoples and subcultures. No longer a statement of radical political activism in America, it was used by young people in places as divergent as China, Australia and, despite a long-running military government, Myanmar too.
In the early 2000s the very first hip hop influences came to Myanmar, with the group ACID and their legendary album Sa Tin Chin (‘The Start’).
Almost destroyed by Khmer Rouge, Cambodian art thrives again
South China Morning Post
Arn Chorn-Pond says he can still smell the blood from all those years ago.
“Watching my little brother and sister die slowly; that’s still here with me,” says the founder of Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), an organisation established to preserve endangered art forms and rituals that has since grown to offer scholarships, support troupes and promote creativity in Cambodia’s arts sector.
Born into a family of artists, Chorn-Pond was nine years old when he was taken from his parents by Khmer Rouge soldiers and sent to a children’s labour camp in 1975. His abduction was part of a purge instigated by the Pol Pot regime that targeted swathes of Cambodian society, including intellectuals, artists and creatives. An estimated 90 per cent of Cambodian artists and performers were killed during the time the regime ruled the country between 1975 and 1979.
Revisiting Francis Light and son’s roles in British colonial history
The renowned French poet and novelist Victor Hugo famously once said: “What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.”
That seems to reflect the vision of theatre company TerryandTheCuz’s latest work called Light which opens on Aug 23 at Indicine, KLPac.
“Light is based on the idea that our present was written in the past. How we remember history decides who we believe ourselves to be,” explains Terence Conrad, co-founder of TerryandTheCuz, in an interview.
“Our history has not been recorded but instead written for us by people with self-serving interest to perpetuate myths and legitimise colonisation,” he adds.
Late artist Tino Sidin’s restored motorcycle on display in Bandung
Visitors have until Sept. 15 to visit a solo exhibition by automotive artist Tommy “Mastomcustom” Dwi Djatmiko titled “Riding with the Wind: A Motorcycle Diary by Mastomcustom” at Galeri Yuliansyah Akbar – Urbane in Bandung, West Java.
Tommy is known in particular for initiating the Indonesia Motorcycle History event in 2017 and teaming up with fashion designer Carmanita in painting a batik motif on a Mercedez Benz car in 2010.
Curated by artist Beni Sasmito, the exhibition features Tommy’s artworks on canvas as well as his project to restore the 1978 Suzuki FR80 motorbike owned by late artist Tino Sidin, who was famous for teaching children of the 1970s and 1980s drawing skills in the TV show Gemar Menggambar (I Love to Paint). Tino was known for his way of saying “Ya, bagus” (it’s good) to recognize artworks sent by children to the show.
A commentary about Filipino vinyl releases
It is no longer a secret. Vinyl is back in a big way for music fans. Not only is it back for music fans but also for recording artists; homegrown included.
These past two months (July and August) have seen the release of six 12-inch records from local artists. There’s “Closure” from Sugar Hiccup, “Temple of the Soul” from The Insekftlife Cycle, “Scorned As Timber Beloved of the Sky” by The Strangeness, “Ray Dee Oh” by Holmes, “Your Universe” by Rico Blanco, and “Mystic Revolution” by Red-I.
Before the year’s end, releases expected to drop include dub artist Red-I’s second album that will be out via double LP release from Japan label, Oto Records; the re-release of the Eraserheads’ “Ultraelectromagneticpop”; and UDD’s fourth album. I am told by Offshore Music, one of the partners for the re-release of Ultraelectromagneticpop, it comes in a gatefold release with lyrics, liner notes.
Meet Tuimi: The Queer Vietnamese Pop Singer Blending Worlds Through Language
When Tuimi, a Vietnamese singer-songwriter based in Ho Chi Minh City and Berlin, was three years old, she sang karaoke at family gatherings. Some time after, while being raised in Dresden, Germany, she was classically trained for piano. But it wasn’t until Alicia Keys came out with “Fallin'” that music really clicked for her. “She was a confident, beautiful woman who made piano look and sound cool,” she says. “I knew I wanted to be like her.”
Fast forward to age 19, and the singer got a lucky break after posting a video of herself singing on Facebook. An A&R rep from Universal reached out and she entered the world of songwriting camps. That boot-camp industry training only further informed her artistic vision, and helped her make international connections that would strengthen her music.
Amanda Lee Koe, Novelist
AT 27, AMANDA Lee Koe was the youngest person to win the Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction in 2014. The book, a beguiling short story collection titled Ministry Of Moral Panic, was already a huge bestseller before she took the prize.
Shortly after its publication, Lee Koe moved to New York to pursue a master’s degree in fiction writing at Columbia University. While browsing the aisles of the legendary Strand Bookstore, she chanced upon a photography book by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
It included an incandescent picture of three young actresses posing at a Berlin party in 1928. All three were on the path to becoming legends of Western cinema – Marlene Dietrich, a screen siren still revered for her distinctive style today; Leni Riefenstahl, who controversially directed Nazi propaganda films; and Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese American movie star.
Vu, Prince of Vietnamese Indie Music, Talks Influences, Taking Risks & Marriage
In almost every article that is published on music in Vietnam, the name “Vu” is always paired with “The Prince of Vietnamese Indie Music.”
A few years ago, Vu’s breakthrough single, “La Lung” (Strange),” captivated his audience with an emotional outpouring of sweet and romantic lyrics coupled with his deep but gentle voice. It’s like the silent whisper of an angel telling you that everything will be alright. The song still has that effect every time he performs it live, and his entire audience will sing it along with him.
Since then, his follow up singles “Mua Mua Ngau Nam Canh” (Rainy Season with You), “Dong Kiem Em” (Finding You in Winter), and “Phut Ban Dau” (First Moment) have soared and further secured Vu’s place as one of the great music artists in Vietnam.
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.
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.