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:
Life under lockdown: Pineapple Lab Part 1
MANILA, Philippines – In the Philippines, the gig economy is thriving, allowing freelance creatives to pursue their passion in the arts while having a steady stream of income and flexible work schedules.
The setback is it doesn’t come with health insurance and retirement benefits, making it one of the more vulnerable sectors during this global health crisis. The COVID-19 outbreak definitely opened up the need for social amelioration to support this community, which relies on independent job opportunities to make a living.
Pineapple Lab is a Makati-based creative hub dedicated to finding innovative ways to showcase the works of Filipino artists and connect them with international creatives and collaborators.
Arts for Malaysians, not just tourists — ReformARTsi Coalition
APRIL 28 — In these unsettling times, designing policies and plans would likely be one of the most difficult things to do.
We therefore find it speculative and highly irresponsible that YB Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, the current Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture would suggest the “new norm” for the arts sector for the whole world, would be digital in nature, citing her chosen example of “online competitions.”
This statement is dangerous and does not take into account any consideration by her ministry to consider ways for artists to migrate live performances into a digital medium — a migration which will include aspects of professional video-making, sound recording, audience development, intellectual property and payment.
Lawrence Ypil: ‘Just because there’s some kind of drama, doesn’t automatically make it a poem’
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — It is a strange feeling to become an unwilling participant in a major historical event. As the COVID-19 virus changes the way we live, we’re left longing for the kind of life that once was, and imagining what kind of world we would be living in when this is all over. What would remain the same? How would we have changed — individually, collectively — when we emerge from this tragedy?
It is perhaps the best time to read something like poet and essayist Lawrence Ypil’s “The Experiment of the Tropics,” a rumination on the intersection of poetry, photography, and history. In the book, Ypil takes a close look at archival photos taken in his hometown of Cebu during the American occupation. Though he says the initial draw of the photographs was seeing a “past version of the city I grew up in,” Ypil says he was mostly interested in “the ways in which poetry would be able to say something about them, different from what history would,” how the photos revealed a different time and way of living, and how they revealed something about himself in the process.
This March, “The Experiment of the Tropics” was announced as a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards, one of the most prestigious awards for LGBTQ+ literature. Ypil’s fellow nominees include Ocean Vuong for one of last year’s best reviewed novels, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” and Bernardine Evaristo for her Booker Prize-winning experimental novel, “Girl, Woman, Other.”
Folk music performance by Vietnamese artist wins over int’l audiences at virtual concert
Tuoi Tre News, Vietnam
The one-hour concert commenced at 9:30 pm on April 22 Vietnam time and offered free access to everyone via live-streaming on Ricky Kej’s YouTube channel.
The event also featured artists from India, Australia, the United States, South Africa, and more, who covered a wide range of messages in their respective performances, from novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) awareness to environmental issues and wildlife protection.
Known as a handmaiden of dan bau — a monochord musical instrument peculiar to Vietnamese culture — Hai Phuong was featured in the lineup of ‘Shine Your Light’ with a performance recorded from the affable atmosphere of her home.
Hai Phuong appeared in bright yellow ao dai, a traditional Vietnamese long gown, flung melancholy riffs with her dan bau and scored a huge impression in just a few minutes of screen time.
To the Realm of the Masks
From Monday to Friday, Noeun Veasna, 21, leaves his house in Ta Skor Village, Kandal, early in the morning and boards one of the double-end ferry at Arey Ksat for Phnom Penh so that he can be on time for the lecture at the National Technical Training Institute, where he is studying to become an electrical engineer. On Saturdays, he usually buries himself in his books and assignments.
On Sunday, however, Veasna does something very different. He looks forward to this say for the whole week. In the morning, instead of heading to the ferry port or keep himself busy at his desk, he drives at Wat Svay Andet pagoda, just a few kilometres from his house, to assist a few Lakhon Khol masters in passing their endemic art to the younger generations, as well as to learn it from them himself.
“I started learning Lakhon Khol seven years ago because my grandfather, my father, and my brother are all Lakhon Khol artist,” Veasna says. “Yet, I also love it. I may become a full-time engineer in the future, but I will keep practising the art form.”
Coping with Covid-19 Through Art
A source of inspiration for artwork doesn’t have to always be something positive. Some Thai artists have turned the coronavirus and its resulting consequences into their muse. Here are a few favourites:
– Nakrob Moonmanas, who’s known for his collage work of Western art and Thai elements, adds a Thai style female angel in Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom In Arles in a piece he named Isolation Odyssey. He also puts a Covid-19 spin on Édouard Manet’s The Luncheon On The Grass. The iconic nude female wears a diver helmet and a mask and is paired with what seems to be a shirtless man. What’s with chada headdresses and floating goldfish and carps, you ask? We guess that’s why this piece is called Pisces.
Singapore’s only independent cinema sustained by online screenings, merchandise sales, and hope amid coronavirus lockdown
South China Morning Post
Since opening its doors in 2015, The Projector – Singapore’s only independent cinema – has become a pillar of the city state’s independent arts scene. The retrofitted cinema in Golden Mile Tower, a commercial and residential complex on Beach Road near Kampong Glam, retains a nostalgic look, from old-fashioned wood-and-metal seats to bespoke film posters.
In its first incarnation as the Golden Theatre in 1973, The Projector was once the biggest cinema in both Singapore and Malaysia. With three screens and 550 seats it is nothing like the country’s ubiquitous modern multiplexes, but it’s much more than a place to watch movies – it’s a home for alternative culture and a singular piece of local history.
The Projector offers an elusive cultural experience in Singapore: independent programming and curation that includes everything from recorded operas and critically acclaimed foreign films to niche documentaries and experimental films that you will not find in a mainstream theatre chain.
Artist Kyee Myintt Saw’s favourite painting
While many people are getting bored staying at home, 82-year-old Myanmar artist Kyee Myintt Saw has no time to feel jaded or depressed. Instead, he keeps busy creating his “Night Market” series of paintings. While many people are getting bored staying at home, 82-year-old Myanmar artist Kyee Myintt Saw has no time to feel jaded or depressed. Instead, he keeps busy creating his “Night Market” series of paintings.
Whether there is an international health crisis or not, he spends most of his time painting in his studio. The coming of COVID-19 to Myanmar has not changed his daily routine.
Kyee Myintt Saw’s “Market”, “Yangon Night” and “Shwe Dagon Night” series are very famous both locally and internationally. He created his unique paintings with amazing skills of the knife blade, creating interesting contrasts of light, shade and vibrant colours.
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.