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Thursday, 8 September 2011


This posting is based on my 'seposen' view on the different between 'National Launching' and "State Launching' when it comes to 'pitching' a major event (or events). I might be wrong. If I am, please take it as another form of learning lesson.

"We are planning to hold another press conference that specifically announce and inform the media about IN-SIGHT PENANG, specifically all the people behind it (Penang galleries/art schools/artists/activists/movers), not just one hero or heroin. Please support 'the real' TEAM that makes IN-SIGHT PENANG happens!!!"
"IN-SIGHT PENANG is about Penang, too look deeper(or get an in-sight) into how contemporary art in Penang vibrates side-by-side its rich cross-cultural heritage, historical settings, foods, and most importantly within 'people' (the real movers, the people on the ground, the artists, the galleries, the network, the friendship). It is about 'living', sharing and appreciating art, not just bragging (not that I'm against it) or for personal gratification(again, not that I against this also)."
"i view it on the positive side, it was another form of promoting .. again not against also.."
"Everything can be a form of promotion brother, including 'bad news'. Somebody run naked (u for ecample) around Penang carrying 1MCAT streamer can also be promotion. I'm talking about the right 'pitching' (in branding sense). We need to pitch it to 'Penang' instead of something too 'generic' and 'broad', which actually is more suitable to a 'National launching' (which has been done in KL Convention Center before, so no need to repeat the same thing) rather than 'State launching'. State launching must be pitched according to the materials prepared by the State organizing committee. U as a university art graduate takkan tak tau pasal 'branding' pulak. Anyway, thank u for designing the IN-SIGHT PENANG, which we will promote more in the other press conference. Sure u are not against that. :)"
Shaya shokong!
Vincent Van Gogh (who lived in the 19th.century in far, far away land, and LOOOOONG DEAD ALREADY), Renoir, Mattise, - all these contemporary artists ka? Their artworks contemporary art ka? Their artworks can help to promote 1Malaysia Contemporary Art ka? What is so 1Malaysia about their artworks? Someone (not a joker) needs to professionally advise our Minister of Tourism about contemporary art before she makes a fool out of herself. This mention of long dead artists' name (from a totally different period, place, culture etc) will not do her (and the Ministry, as well as MCAT) a favour. Don't let this be another case of 'emperor clothes' where nobody cares to speak.
Oh yea,,,,unless someone sees that as another form of promotion too (emperor with no cloth can be a good promotion and has powerful news value too ma!).  
From branding point of view, mixing European modern art tradition and Malaysian contemporary art practice in an 'art tourism' initiative will only give confusing signals to the general public. In fact, local Malaysian artists will forever be read inferior in relation to artists belonging to 'western tradition'. On the other hand, the Minister's idea of bringing contemporary art from Penang (as practiced by Penang contemporary artists) to London (or anywhere) will definitely help to pitch MCAT and art tourism in a better and less confusing light where local artists can define and set our own standard according to our own unique traditions and roots.
By European modern art tradition, I'm referring to what is termed (or ideologically-planted in our brain) as 'old masters' which include Van Gogh. If we really want modern art tradition, use our own heroes - Yong Mun Seng, Khaw Sia, Abdullah Ariff, etc.

When it comes to tourism, I think it is more about 'branding, advertising, pitching and spinning' (as well as marketing, promoting and creating value for) a product, which in this case (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on ...where one stands) is contemporary art. But how to pitch contemporary art in Malaysia if one keeps on looking or drooling at 'European modern art tradition, history and old master' be them Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vince), Dali, Van Gogh, etc. At least, get the pitching focus right la, contemporary art in Malaysia should not be confused with western art legacy. No need rocket science here. 
In the case of most shows in Penang, the clothesline of exhibition has been outlined before hand specifically for September with the intention of capitalizing on 1MCAT. Penang is doing its 2nd MCAT this year btw, so most gallery operators and artists had met together several times since early this year to consolidate their plans for September MCAT (so its not just 'an excuse'). That's why the State launch should focus on materials prepared by the State organizing committee, not repetition of the materials from the National Launch. At least, focus should be given to contemporary art exhibitions that the Penang organizing committee members have outlined(even if they may not have the wow factor, especially those prepared by the younger artists). Pitching about their works and shows are better than about some old and dead European masters, or the idea of bringing their works to Malaysia. 
Anyway, MCAT is not even just about the contemporary art anymore. Its about how we package it, or for some, how we create the wow factor (ya, lest we forget, 'wow factor' is not natural, its manufactured), which requires expertise beyond the confine of art practices (spin doctors, brand experts, advertising genius, efficient manager, promoter, etc that the tourism ministry could hire and pay perhaps). But certainly not JOKERS. Some countries and cities (not just Singapore) are very good at this, some, hmmmmm.... Nevertheless, I agree that Art Expo and Art Auction are some good platforms where tourism can tag along and play a complimentary role in spinning it or creating value or elevating the profile of contemporary art from Malaysia. Waaaaaa......this is another boring lecture already! Ok, class dismiss.

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