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Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Few things one should know about 1MCAT : IN-SIGHT PENANG 2011


20 exhibitions at 20 different galleries/premises in Penang
Plus few more galleries and hotels involved in the Penang Art Trail. Penang is a small state but has amongst the most numbers of galleries compared to other states in Malaysia. The numbers are increasing with few more galleries going to open up in George Town and Balik Pulau.

Amongst the largest visual art events ever organized in Penang, if not Malaysia.
90 visual artists showcasing their art works for a period of one month. This would be amongst the largest gathering and showcasing of artworks Penang has ever seen.

First ever consolidated effort by various parties within the visual art community of Penang
A joint-effort by both state and federal institutions, artists, museum and gallery directors/owners and the Penang Tourism office. Almost all the galleries in Penang are taking part or involved, featuring Penang-based visual artists as well as artists from outside Penang. The Penang state-level committee has been working for the past 9 months on IN-SIGHT PENANG 2011. It is not an ad-hoc event. All the galleries had planned to hold special exhibitions on the month of September in conjuction with IN-SIGHT PENANG 2011. It has also been a massive collaboration that cut across many forms of differences - ideological, political, types of contemporary art, aesthetic preferences, artistic styles, medium and concepts, genres, etc. Of course, for the past few years, there have been several interesting visual art activities in Penang, but most of the time very scattered, not as consolidated as IN-SIGHT PENANG. The artists and artworks featured are as diverse as the Penang's people and culture, covering different ranges of age group. 

Malaysians can work together ma!
Ya, we do bitch each other sometimes (or most of the times!). But there are times where we just shut up and work together. For IN-SIGHT PENANG 2011, the state government has given its cooperation by allowing the newly-renovated Macalister Building as the venue for a special Carnival, organized in conjunction of the launching of IN-SIGHT PENANG 2011. In addition, the Penang State Museum and Gallery is also the main co-organizer of the event together with the Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah (MGTF), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Both the state and federal institutions have been working together in spearheading  the committee. This joint-effort reflects Penang's unique yet significant character - ability to work together in the interest of the state and its citizens, beyond whatever differences (especially political).

Penang should also be known for its vibrant contemporary art scene, other than food, heritage, historical sites, shopping venues and nature.
With 20 plus galleries and more coming, Penang should be taken seriously as the next important hub for contemporary art in the region. People (within Malaysia) and tourists, visitors or guests from other countries may have another (in this case, even meaningful) reason to come to Penang. Other than culturally enriching, contemporary art may offer deeper 'in-sights' to what this unique Penang state can offer. It shows that, other than history, the past and heritage, Penang is very much engaged with contemporary issues. It also shows that Penang or George Town is a vibrant 'creative city' for creative people. Visiting galleries and artists' studios can be a meaningful learning activity. Similarly, purchasing and owning artworks may uplift one's spirit or provide an outlet to engage into a deeper aspect of human experience. It provides different visiting experience, while at the same time allow the visitors to appreciate Penang even more (thus coming back again and again, or even make it their second home!)

Penang-based artists, especially from the younger generation are as talented, creative and exciting as their international counterparts. 
Certainly, they deserve to be promoted even more, and their works known by the public at large, acquired or purchased by more collectors. Plus, let them keep having their base and practice in Penang, KL is too crowded already!

Creating awareness, instilling interest and encouraging the emergence of new collectors
The event will hopefully become a platform to create awareness amongst the general public towards Penang contemporary art and artists, and in doing so, instill interest in the visual art. In a long run, hopefully, more new collectors of local art works will emerge, other than the existing ones. 

Celebrating the importance of respecting and honoring the freedom to express different views, opinions, reflections and feelings through creative, artistic and civilized means 
One of the essences or the substances of a city is the freedom of expression enjoyed by its citizens. A mature, creative and sustainable city must honor this. In fact, a city that does not encourage expressions of history, heritage, art and culture is usually considered as barren of human values. A city that halts human expression is not considered as healthy or conducive for a quality and sustainable living. Material and economic progress must be balanced by the sustainability of cherished human values.  A city rich with expressions of its history, heritage, art and culture attracts quality visitors.

A Contemproary Art Carnival that one should not miss at 57 Macalister Building, Jalan Macalister, Penang on 16, 17 and 18 September, because....
* One can join an enticing art explorace for free!, complete several very educational tasks (while getting 'in-sights' of Penang contemporary art scene) and win interesting prizes
* Can visit several galleries for free!, with a van and a driver to drive one to 3 different routes in George Town, thus becoming amongst the first ever batches of visitors who experience a newly conceived art tourism packaged
* Can witness, learn and enjoy how artists create their artworks, instead of just looking at their finished artworks
* Can even create one's own artworks and bring them home
* Can express one's view on contemporary art and share it with everyone, instead of just passively listening to the so-called experts lecturing or giving a boring sermon on contemporary art
* Can sharpen one's creativity and artistic flairs by joining several rarely-organized art workshops
* Can learn more about visual artists, their thoughts, their feelings etc directly from them, without having to read books
* Can play many interactive learning games and creative toys
* Can pretend to be 'an artist' and take photos to show off to friends
* Can experience many different kinds of contemporary art, thus enriching one's knowledge
* Can simply have a fun, joyful, entertaining, yet very enriching, meaningful and educational experience.

Yes, I am tired and drained. Heck, I feel like I want to sleep for 3 days straight. But I am nevertheless contended and thankful. I have done my best as the appointed gardener, planting, nurturing and plowing this shared fertile soil to hopefully bear abundance of fruits for everyone to enjoy. I have many gardener friends by my side to thank to.  

May all of you out there, especially all potential visitors, enjoy the fruits of our labor of love towards a home that we call Penang 

Hasnul J Saidon
(under his capacity as the 'reluctant' Chairman cum 'gardener' of the state-level organizing committee of 1MCAT : IN-SIGHT PENANG 2011)


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