Geem Drake/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: The passing of Salleh Ben Joned, Bangkok protests stir biennale artists

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:

Photo: The Star
Maverick Malaysian poet and writer Salleh Ben Joned dead at 79
The Star, Malaysia

Salleh Ben Joned, a witty, fearless and charismatic poet and writer that some have called the ‘bad boy of Malaysian literature’ has died aged 79.

“It is with great sadness that the family of beloved Salleh Ben Joned informs of his passing this morning (Thursday, Oct 29 at 1.21am) from heart failure. He was experiencing breathing difficulties on Tuesday at his home in Subang Jaya and was warded at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre,” read a family statement on Salleh’s Facebook page.

Often regarded as a non-conformist in the arts, culture and literary scene here, Salleh, was renowned both for his bilingual poetry and prose.


Photo: Timoteus Anggawan Kusno/The Columns/Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020, via Jakarta Post
First in SE Asia: Art Jakarta fair goes completely virtual
Jakarta Post, Indonesia

Entering the 12th edition of Art Jakarta, or Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020, is like stepping into an alien world – at least for some of the people used to its physical format.

In its new, online form, the art fair may initially be confusing to visitors, but once you have entered the virtual space, it offers an exciting experience that can be navigated from the comfort of the living room, or even from your bedroom for that matter.

“This fair format has been conceived to help energize the slumping creativity in the art world in Indonesia that tends to be falling into oblivion. Galleries have closed their doors, and artists face challenges in continuing their creative activities, let alone selling artworks,” explained the fair’s director, Tom Tandio.

Photo: VNA/VNS


Festival honouring Vietnamese traditional ritual celebrated in Yên Bái
Viet Nam News, Vietnam

YÊN BÁI — A trance ceremony, traditional games and photo exhibitions are among activities of the Mother Goddess Worship and Cơm Mới (New Rice) Festivals that are both being held in Đông Cuông Temple in Văn Yên District in the northern province of Yên Bái.

According to Lã Thị Liền, vice chairwoman of Văn Yên District People’s Committee and also head of the management board of Đông Cuông Temple, the combination of the two festivals this year would create diversified activities for visitors nationwide to experience original local cultures.

“The event aims to promote the image of the national cultural and historical relic of Đông Cuông Temple to both domestic and international tourists, and therefore preserve and uphold the values of the relic.

[Read more…]


Photo: LUIS SANTOS. Via CNN Philippines
For artist Luis Santos, ‘artmaking is not relaxing’
CNN Philippines, The Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In the first few months of what is now a seven-month long quarantine, artist Luis Antonio Santos didn’t stop creating and putting out new work.

Santos released limited edition prints of his photography through Shelter Fund during the earlier days of the quarantine. One of which is a photograph of corrugated galvanized iron sheets, which has been a recurring subject of his work since 2013. In July, when quarantine measures were eased, Santos mounted a solo exhibition titled “The Past as an Unknowable Landscape” at West Gallery. Two months later, he presented a print of white Venetian blinds seemingly disheveled by a whirlwind in the group exhibition “Liminal Spaces” at MO Space.

The title of his work for the group show — “Each time I looked around, the walls moved a little tighter” — is taken from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 war film “Apocalypse Now.” The line appears early in the film: Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), a military officer who has been waiting for a mission in Vietnam, wakes up in a room and dives into an internal monologue brimming with dread.

[Read more…]


PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG. Via The Straits Times
Become part of a performance art piece and listen to audio drama in Sifa’s year-end offerings
The Straits Times, Singapore

SINGAPORE – Two audio productions by Singapore theatre-makers are part of the Singapore International Festival Of Arts’ v2.020 programme, which wraps up the last quarter of this year with a smattering of online events which pick up from this year’s disrupted festival fare.

Multidisciplinary artist Irfan Kasban’s art collective Compound is presenting The Silence Of A Falling Tree, a three-track journey which invites listeners to become part of a performance art piece. Actor/director Tan Shou Chen teams up with playwright Joel Tan on A Bird Calls You To Moscow, a three-episode audio drama with music to be experienced on the move.

Irfan says his piece was inspired partly by a desire to escape the Zoom trap, “there’s something internal that we are not addressing, or tapping into, with the performances that we watch on a phone or a laptop”, and partly by his discovery of guided meditation, “you listen to a track and there’s a set of instructions after meditation. There was something quite theatrical about that.”

[Read more…]


Photo by Geem Drake/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.
Two Dozen International Artists in the Bangkok Art Biennale Have Signed an Open Letter Decrying Crackdowns on Pro-Democracy Protests in Thailand

As pro-democracy demonstrations sweep Thailand, 25 artists participating in the upcoming Bangkok Art Biennale have released an open letter supporting the protestors and decrying violent police crackdowns on peaceful gatherings.

The signatories, including Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, and John Akomfrah, as well as Thai artists Bussaraporn Thongchai, I-na Phuyuthanon, and Prateep Suthatongthai, write that they “unequivocally condemn and call for the immediate stop to the use of violence against the protesters and express our support for their struggle for democracy.”

The biennale, which launched in 2018, is one of the few major international art events to proceed with an in-person exhibition in 2020. Organized by artistic director Apinan Poshyananda and featuring more than 80 artists from 35 countries, the exhibition opened in three venues on October 12 and celebrates its official opening on October 29.

[Read more…]

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.

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