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Saturday, 1 June 2013

UNDER DECONSTRUCTION - CONTEMPORARY ART IN MALAYSIA AFTER 1990 (NOTES & BIBLIOGRAPHY)




Footnotes

1.             This colloquial term was coined by Ooi Kok Chuen in ‘A Comprehensive History of Malaysian Art’,  in Dr. Tan
Chee Khuan, 200 Malaysian Artists, The Art Gallery, Penang, 2002, p. 42. 

2.             Michelle Antoinette, ‘Different Visions : Contemporary Malaysian art and exhibition in the 1990s and beyond’ in
Caroline Turner (ed), Art & Social Change : Contemporary Art in Asia and the Pacific, Pandanus Book, Canberra, 2003. Through this essay, Michelle focuses on the “defining moments and seminal figures of contemporary Malaysian art from 1990s to the present, by tracking the different and multiple trajectories along which recent art production has evolved.” p. 232.

3.             Refer to Hasnul J Saidon, HYPErview, Solo Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, 1997.

The term ‘hyper-view’ implies deconstruction of singular view. For Jacques Derrida, ‘deconstruction’ is a form of tactical practice designed to expose the instability of language.  He expended the observation made by Swiss linguists Ferdinand de Saussure who stated that the relationship between signs and meanings are ambiguous.  Derrida has created many methods to expose such ambiguity through word-play. His intention is to show that words cannot confine meanings. For a society that relies on fixed meanings, deconstruction has the capacity to threat cultural beliefs. 

4.             Michelle Antoinette, p. 230.

5.             Redza Piyadasa, Masterpieces From The National Art Gallery, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p.11.
               
The term master narrative was initially used by Jean-Francois Lyotard in his book The Postmodern Condition.  Such narrative is based on transcendental truth and refers to ideological system (according to Lyotard) such as enlightenment, Eurocentricism, Christianity, Hinduism etc. The term also connotes authoritarian and totalitarian stance of such ideological system in centralizing and universalizing human experience. Such truth is perceived as being increasingly broken by periphery factors. For example, it has been debated that Eurocentricism represents an example of a universal view that tries to empower Western history, including the history of modern art as a master-narrative. Master narrative creates a hegemonic discourse whilst other forms of Asian and African histories are perceived as insignificant or subservient.

Efforts to deconstruct master-narrative in terms of culture and identity are paradoxical due to the fact that they will eventually create a new form of master-narrative (different version of transcendental value) that will then be suspected and deconstructed.  The cycle will be repeated until humans have to exist without any religious belief or surrounded by religious wastes. 

6.             Ibid, p.11.

7.             See JosephTan, ‘Judges’ Report’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries 2000, National Art Gallery, Kuala
Lumpur, 2000, p.15 & 39; Hasnul J. Saidon, ‘Postmodern Encounters: Young Contemporaries 2002’ in
Malaysian Young Contemporaries 2002, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, pp. 1.9 & 3.13; ‘In The Name of (Borrowed) Time’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries 2004, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004.

8.             See Malaysian Young Contemporaries 2006, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2006.

9.             See Hasnul J Saidon, ‘Random Order’ in Sentap, Issue 4, Teratak Nuromar, Ipoh, 2006.

10.           See Piyadasa, Masterpieces From The National Art Gallery, pp. 202 & 203.

11.           Hasnul J Saidon, ‘Post-modern Encounters: Young Contemporaries 2002’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries  2002, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p. 3.12.

12.           Ibid, p.3.17.

13.           Michelle Antoinette, p. 245.

14.           Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, 200 Malaysian Artists, The Art Gallery, Penang, 2002.

15.           Ooi Kok Chuen in ‘A Comprehensive History of Malaysian Art’,  in Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, 200 Malaysian Artists,
                The Art Gallery, Penang, 2002.

16.           Jolly Koh, ‘Some Misconceptions in Art Writing In Malaysia’ in SentAp!, Issue 5,Teratak Nuromar, Ipoh, 2006/7,
                p. 6-8.

17.           Ibid, p. 6.

18.           ibid, p. 6.

19.           Ahmad Suhaimi Mohd. Noor, Sejarah Kesedaran Visual di Malaya, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjong
                Malim, 2007.

20.         Dr. Steve Wong, a collector of contemporary Malaysian art, observes:

“When the move to the present premise from majestic Hotel was made not long ago, we anticipated a classy
structure with good art and shows. Instead what the Malaysian public received was an ill conceived, poorly functional… with mostly second grade works of art in poorly curated and quite infrequent exhibitions. I feel quite embarrassed to show it to foreign friend.” Malaysia Tattler,  April 2008, p.200.

21.           Safrizal Shahir in his essay, Art Criticism in the Appreciation of Malaysian Contemporary Art proposes that:

“The nascent point of Malaysian contemporary art, which embraces or allows for the emergence of postmodern
ideas, relatively could be traced back to the late 1980’s. Indications and profiles suggested by artworks in the
period after that year mostly observe and are ascribe to postmodern traits. Therefore any appreciation
regarding the ideas and practice of Malaysian contemporary art must revert to that time frame’.

See Safrizal Shahir, ‘Art Criticism in the Appreciation of Malaysian Contemporary Art’ in sentAp! Issue no.2,
2006, pp.9-10.

22.           Michelle Antoinette, p. 245.

Ironically, it is through this negation and revaluation of Western modernism that several shared principles
between the so-called scientific West and spiritual East were unveiled. The following is a list of several
principles that can be found in both the Southeast Asian design paradigm (or the spiritual-based traditional art
and cosmology) and the information age (or new age) paradigm.

a.     Modularity
b.     Inter-connection
c.     Inter-dependence
d.     Multi-disciplines
e.     Multi-centers
f.      Multi-dimensional & cross media
g.     Non-linear and Cyclical
h.     Participative/inclusive/immersive
i.      Convergence
j.      Art and Science
k.     Temporal
l.      Time as an important element

Evidently, these are also several key principles that one may find in the artworks of several contemporary Malaysian artists. Artists such as Fauzan Omar and Zulkifli Yusof for examples have recently employed principles such as modularity, inter-connection, inter-dependence and multi-centrality in their recent works. These principles (albeit partially, or in various different combinations) have also been employed in several other alternative projects that spilled beyond the confine of a gallery space, including community-based projects and projects that use new media technology and the internet such as Malaysian Art Online, curated by Niranjan Rajah in Pekan Seni Ipoh (1999). In fact, these principles may potentially open up many interesting shifts and future directions for the practice of art in Malaysia and the South East Asian region.

23.           Piyadasa, p. 33.

24.           Ibid, p. 33.

25.           Ibid, p. 34.

26.           Ibid, p. 35.

27.           Refer to Ismail Zain,  ‘Masa Depan Tradisi – Dikhususkan Kepada Pengalaman Kuno di Malaysia’, Bengkel
Wayang Kulit, KKBS, Kuala Lumpur : KKBS, 1978  and  ‘Ucapan Nada Idea’, Seminar Seni dan Teknologi,
Pusat Seni USM, Pulau Pinang, 1986. Also Syed Ahmad Jamal, Rupa & Jiwa, Percetakan Universiti Malaya,
Kuala Lumpur, 1978.

28.           Refer to Sulaiman Esa, ‘The Reflowering of the Islamic Spirit in The Contemporary Malaysian Art’, Menifestasi
Jiwa Islam Dalam Senirupa Malaysia Sezaman. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 1993. Also Ruzaika
Omar Basaree Kesenian Islam – Suatu Perspektif Malaysia. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 1995; and
Hani Ahmad (ed), Art & Spirituality, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1995. For article on nationalism in art,
see Seni & Nasionalisme – Dulu & Kini (Art & Nationalism – Past & Present, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur,
1999.

29.           For example, Ismail R and Louis Lamya Faruqi,  Atlas Budaya Islam. Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur ,
1992.  

30.           Niranjan Rajah, ‘Between Amok and Adab: Expresion And Expressionism in Modern Malaysian Art’ in Bara Hati
                Bahang Jiwa, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p.37.

31.           Redza Piyadasa, p.32.

32.           June Yap, ‘Matahati – For Your Pleasure’ in Matahati, Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2008, p.16.

33.           Ibid, p.17. See also ‘New Art New Voices: Krishen Jit talks to Wong Hoy Cheong on Contemporary Malaysian
Art’ in What About Converging Extremes, Galeriwan, Kuala Lumpur, 1993.

34.           Ibid, p.17.

35.           Ahmad Mashadi, ‘Brief Notes on Matahati And The Development of Malaysian Art in the 1980s’ in Matahati,
                Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2008, p.56.

36.           Ibid, p.56.

37.           Ibid, p.58.

38.           Wong Hoy Cheong, ‘Locating Matahati’ in Matahati, Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2008, p.42.

39.           J. Anu, ‘Life is Like That’ in 50 Ways to live in Malaysia, Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2007, p.12.

40.           Valentine Willie & Karim Raslan, ‘Malaysian Art Now’ in Malaysian Art Now, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur,
                2004, p.3.

41.           Ibid, p.7.

42..          Historically, the modern art scene in Malaysia was initially paved by a strong leaning towards Western
romantic naturalism, formalist and aesthetic (read Western or an eclectic combination with Eastern) concerns,
only to be later preoccupied by an interest in conceptual, minimal and international abstract styles, predominantly abstract expressionist style. There was also an interest amongst Malaysian artists to return to Malaysia’s diverse and rich spiritual and cultural traditions. Politically, there was indeed an interest in revisiting the Malay-Islamic tradition. Vital to this preoccupation is a return to pre-modern forms of folk or traditional arts, mainly centers around the Malay culture and Islamic values.

It has to be stressed here that the multifarious roots of the Malay culture was formed by an amalgamation of
various cross-cultural, cross-ethnic, and multi-dimensional influences.Thus, such a return has been prescribed
as a collective socio-cultural formula to bring the country together after the ethnic riots of May 13, 1969.

The formula was debated in the National Cultural Congress (not ‘Malay Congress’) in 1971 and later
institutionalised as the National Cultural Policy. Other than the Malay culture and Islam as the basis of the
Policy, it has to be noted that cultural elements from other races that are deemed as appropriate can be also be
accepted and adapted.

43.           See J. Anu’s essay in Bumi Manusia : Journey Through Nusantara by Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Petronas
                Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2007.

44.           Niranjan Rajah, ‘Between Amok and Adab: Expresion And Expressionism in Modern Malaysian Art’ in Bara Hati
                Bahang Jiwa, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p.47.          

45.           Despite ending in 1990, NEP has also been touched in relation to NCP (National Cultural Policy) that came out of the National Cultural Congress in 1971. Many have responded to this, directly or indirectly through their arts or through writings. The responses have become rather louder in the past few years, even spilling outside Malaysia.

As examples, see statements by several prominent visual artists such as Dato’ Syed Ahmad Jamal, Redza Piyadasa, Sulaiman Esa and Jolly Koh and the exhibition curators of Malaysian Art Now, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004. Read a statement by another visual artist, Tan Chin Kuan quoted from Beyond The Future, The Third Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1999, p.82:

“Things never change in life. Racism is a global issue, so is religion. As a Chinese in an Islamic state you are
not exactly predestined to become a top artist. I have been active in the Malaysian art scene for over ten years
but the policy is still the same or even worse.”

Such statement can easily be misunderstood, misinterpreted, thinned and sensationalized, as experienced by
another prominent Malaysian artist who’s statement was totally misread by a foreign newspaper.  Refer to
‘Critical Dissident to star,’ in The Sunday Mail–City Final Edition, Brisbane, Queensland, Sep.1, 1996.

Chin Kuan’s confrontationalist surrealism, according to J.Anu, ‘has resulted in his work receiving – in comparison - a rather less-than-comfortable response from the powers that be and, to some extent, from the art movement at large.’ J. Anu was referring to Wong Hoy Cheong and Liew Kungyu in his ‘comparison.’ 

Chin Kuan’s statement has been commented upon by Niranjan Rajah in Bara Api Bahang Jiwa.  Chin Kuan’s artwork has been purchased by the National Art Gallery (NAG) of Malaysia  (in fact, listed as one of the masterpieces) of the NAG, Malaysia.  He himself was repeatedly selected as a major winner of Young Contemporaries Competition and Exhibition organised by the NAG. His artworks have also been discussed generously in many local catalogues. Another enticing visual artist who is subtly conversant and witty in her visual remarks on racial stereotypes and ethnic relationship is Yee I-Lan.  See Huzir Sulaiman in Beyond The Future, The Third Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1999, p.84.  Perhaps,  I-Lan represents a generation that is not bounded by the ‘burden of history,’ as far as ethnic relationship in Malaysia is concerned.  

To counter balance, see also Hasnul J Saidon’s and Hoy Cheong’s statements in ‘Kolokium Serum’, tANPA
tAJUK, issue 2, pp.8 & 9.

46.           Refer to Inventori Himpunan Tetap Warisan Seni Tampak Negara 1958 – 2003, National Art Gallery, Kuala
Lumpur, 2003

47.           Based on a telephone interviewwith Zanita Anuar (Senior Curator, National Art Gallery of Malaysia) 22 April
2008.

48.           Suzieana Uda Nagu, ‘Making it More Acesssible’ New Sunday Times, February 24, 2008.

49.           Fauzan Omar in an interview, 22 April, 2008.

50.           Ahmad Shukri Mohamed in an interview, 18 April, 2008. 

51.           Refer to Bakat Muda Sezaman (Malaysian Young Contemporaries) catalogues from the year 1984-1992. Also
                Zanita Anuar, ‘Past Tense and Future Stance’ in Young Contemporaries in Review, National Art Gallery, Kuala
Lumpur, 1999.

52.           See for example, Pameran Terbuka, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1989.

53.           Fauzin Mustaffa and Raja Shahriman Raja Aziddin in telephone interviews, 14 April, 2008.

54.           Ismail wrote an essay entitled ‘Modernism and Self-critical Tendency’ in 4 Perceptions, an exhibition plus multi-
                arts programs by his 4 ex-students from UiTM in 1989, produced by theatre-exponent Normah Nordin, of the
Centerstage Performing Arts (an early version of ‘alternative’ space for artists coming from various disciplines to
hang out and do projects).

The exhibition itself entailed dance performances from Zarida Malik, Marion D’Cruz and Peggy Tan, song
performances from Iryanda Mulya, Eddin Khoo, Rafique, Hasan & Markiza, and a talk session with Khoo Khay
Kim and Ramli Ibrahim as guest panelists. The following is a sample of Ismail Zain’s musing:

“As an exhibition, the ‘Four Perceptions’ may not change art history and aesthetics. Skeptics may even raise an
eye-brow or two at its overtly youthful exuberance. But in final analysis, it does two things. Firstly, it draws our
attention to the fact that modern art in Malaysia is progressively depleted of the intellectual discipline and critical
attitude which are crucial to its development. Secondly, it reminds us nostalgically of the scenes in Malaysia
around the late sixties and early seventies when unequivocal commitment and single-minded attempt to
communicate were certainly more common.”(see 4 Perceptions, Centrestage Performing Arts, Kuala Lumpur, p.
6)

55.           See Ismail Zain, Digital Collage, Kuala Lumpur, 1988.

56.           Zulkifli Yusof in a telephone interview, 11 April, 2008

57.           Most of these art works were entered into the annual (now biennale) Malaysian Young Contemporaries
organised by the National Art Gallery of Malaysia.

58.           Malaysian Art Now, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004, p.11.

59.           Niranjan Rajah, Gema:Resonance, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1998, p.11.
               
For introductory explication on globalization and three main interpretations of it, see Jeremy Fox, Chomsky and Globalization, Icon Books, Cambridge, 2001. For reference within the context of visual arts in Malaysia, see Redza Piyadasa, chapter on ‘Melangkau Sempadan’ in Rupa Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur , 1999. Also refer to Niranjan Rajah, ‘The End of Globalization? Malaysian Art at the Close of the 20th. Century”’ in, Fukuoka Triennial, 1999, pp.142-145.

60.           Niranjan Rajah, “Towards A Southeast Asian Paradigm : From Distinct National Modernism To An Integrated
Regional Arena For Art” in 36 Ideas From Asia : Contemporary South-East Asian Art, Asean-Coci and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2002, p.34.

61.           Redza Piyadasa, Rupa Malaysia – Meninjau Seni Lukis Moden Malaysia, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2000, pp.54-67.

62.           Zainol Abidin Shariff, Report By Panel of Judges, Bakat Muda Sezaman, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur,
1994, (unpaginated)

63.           http://www.uploaddownload.org/  (accessed April 22, 2008)

64.           Refer to Leong Tzu Ann, ‘Profiles on Art: From Gadis Melayu to Great Expectations. Up Close With Tengku
Nasariah and Other Art Figures’, Malaysia Tatler,  April, 2008, pp.194-225.

65.           See Rahime Harun, ‘Misi Pelukis & Misi Galeri’ in  tANPA tAJUK, isu 2, pp.17 & 18;
Ismail Zain, ‘Meditation on the Art Market in Malaysia’ in Ismail Zain Retrospective Exhibition 1964-1991,
National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1995, pp 82-85.  See also ‘Asian Galleries on Art, economics and ethics’
in Art Corridor, issue 5, pp. 54-57.

See for example the debates involving Jolly Koh and Dr. Tan Chee Kuan with Victor Chin in “Views & Muse” in
Art Corridor, issue 9, pp. 84-87.

66.           Refer to Hasnul J Saidon & Niranjan Rajah, 1st. Electronic Art Show, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1997.
See also Rajah & Saidon, ‘The Evolution of Electronic Art in Malaysia’, in Art Asia Pacific, Vol. 7, No. 27, 2000, pp.64-69.; E-Art Asean Online, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 2000; see also Rajah, ‘Crossing Over: the entry of Internet art and electronic art from Asia into the international mainstream’, in Caroline Turner and Morris Low (eds), Beyond The Future: papers from the conference of the Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 1999, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1999, pp.155-56. See also Hasnul J Saidon, “Cabaran Praktis Seni Elektronik Dalam Era Maklumat” in Wacana Seni, Pulau Pinang : Penerbit USM, 2003; Zanita Anuar, Flow-Arus, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 2000.

67.           Hasnul J Saidon, MTV@TV Melayu, USM-ABN AMRO Arts & Cultural Center, Penang, 2006.

68.           Refer to a chapter on ‘Issues based art’ in Syed Ahmad Jamal (ed), The Encyclopedia of Malaysia : Crafts and
The Visual Arts, Didier Millet, Singapore, 2007, pp. 118-119. In relation to this, J. Anu writes, “the complex socio-economic as well as racial and religious make-ups of our region have given the South East Asian modern artist little choice but to be a good social commentator long before 9/11 threw up the question of the role of the artist within a world gone mad.” See J. Anu’s essay in  Bumi Manusia : Journey Through Nusantara by Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2007. It is also interesting to compare such interest with ‘issues based art’ or being a ‘social commentator’ in Indonesia. For reference, read Timothy Morrel, ‘Making Ripples and Catching Waves – The Context of Indonesian Contemporary Art’ in The Second Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1996, p. 52. The title sounds rather like a ‘prophecy’ as if anticipating an Indonesia that will eventually be stirred and drowned by vicious waves. Indonesian art scene seemed to burst into the regional contemporary art circle with a strong stance during the late 80s and 90s, mostly due to prominent (or made prominence) presence of her ‘superstar artists’ in many international contemporary art exhibitions. In reference to the above-mentioned article, the narrative of Indonesian contemporary art (together with her star-studded cast) seemed to reach its ‘end of history’ by the seemingly anticipated breakdown of its economy (thus taken over by foreign forces), the fall of Suharto and recently – the wrath (or waves) of tsunami! What about Malaysia? 

Dr. Tan Chee Khuan has commented on what he perceived as an obsession with ‘social context’ and post-modernism in the local art criticism. Refer to his essay in Chapter 12 ‘New Art History’ in Social Responsibility in Art Criticism (Or Why Yong Mun Sen Is the Father of Malaysian Painting), The Art Gallery, Penang, 1998, pp. 107-110

69.           Hasnul J Saidon, ‘Post-modern Encounters: Young Contemporaries 2002’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries  2002, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p. 3.13.

70.           Post-modern condition in the Malaysian art scene has been explicated amongst many by: Zanita Anuar, ‘Ebb
and Flow: Observations on the cognitive tide in Flow/Arus.  National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2000; Redza Piyadasa, ‘Melangkau Sempadan’ in Rupa Malaysia. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 1999; Niranjan Rajah, ‘The End of Globalization? Malaysian Art at the Close of the 20.th Century’ in, Fukuoka Triennial, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka,1999; Hasnul J Saidon, Takung, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004; See also a chapter on ‘From Modernism to Post-modernism’ in Syed Ahmad Jamal (ed), The Encyclopedia of Malaysia : Crafts and The Visual Arts, Didier Millet, Singapore, 2007; and the seminal Digital Collage, Ismail Zain Solo Exhibition, Galeriwan, Kuala Lumpur, 1988. Serena Abdullah, in her article ‘Positioning Malaysia’s Postmodernism’ in sentAp!, issue no. 3, 2006, states that “even though, the “postmodern art” and changes happening in Malaysian culture can be seen as an upshot of the postmodern conditions through the globalization process but does postmodernism really manifests in Malaysia?”. She further proposes that “a different strategy must be taken in positioning this latest trend in the Malaysian art world” p 8. In this regard, it is important to note that, as Safrizal writes, “blind acceptance of Western-oriented theory and its vague application onto Malaysian artworks only produces an intentional fallacy, due to the fact that Malaysian contemporary art itself is deeply rooted in a local socio-cultural space which has experienced hybrid fusion.” Refer to Safrizal Shahir, pp. 9-10. He further reminds that “Deconstruction, Intertextuality, Perversion, Simulacra or Hyper Reality are several typical theoretical principles that could be adopted as tools for art criticism of Malaysian art. However, profound and sincere observation on the functions of criticism shall accordingly inspire us to search for the sustenance of ‘hikmah’ intelligence with regards to the whole practice of art criticism” page 10.

71.           Beverly Yong, quoted in Malaysia Tatler, April 2008, p.205.

72.           Suzieana Uda Nagu, ‘Making it More Acesssible’ New Sunday Times, February 24, 2008.

73.           Sonneratia Youth Art Camp  was sponsored by the National Art Gallery, conceived and directed by Hasnul J Saidon, and coordinated by Susyilawati Sulaiman. See Tan Sei Hon, ‘A Survival Course for Creativity in a Hostile Environment: young artists get a taste of thins to come at the Sonneratia Art Camp’, at http://kakiseni.com accessed 22 April 2008.

Independent phenomena can also be seen through the proliferation of film projects produced by Malaysian young filmmakers without lavish financial support from both private and government institutions. To differentiate them from the mainstream, such films are normally referred to as independent films. They have been well-received by the international film festival circles, including winning several awards, even though they are often sidelined locally. Only recently (after bagging several awards outside the country) that they have managed to attract the intention of relevant local institutions such as Finas and the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage.  Refer to Malaysian Video Awards that have been organised annually at the National Art Gallery.  Some of the works have been absorbed into the mainstream, especially within the context of cosmopolitan setting, distilling them from their independent pigeon-hole. Similar situation can also be observed in the local music scene, including the so-called underground and diy. 

Refer Ooi Kok Chuen, ‘The Young Artists as an Anarchist’ in BMS2004, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004. pp 60 & 61.  Read also James MacKinnon,  “All This Talk of Anarchy” in Adbuster, no. 32, pg 45-49; Wan Zawawi Ibrahim “Anthropologising with National Culture in Malaysia : Representing and Contesting Culture in the Age of Fragmentation” in Finish Anthropology, special issue 2, 2000

Capitalism knows how to exploit anti-consumerism and anti-mainstream sub-culture for profits.  It is also aware that such counter-culture is healthy and can be exploited as an antibody for its immune system. This can be observed through the distillation of sub-cultural elements into current styles or fashion to be subscribed as a modern cosmopolitan lifestyle. 

74.           www.mgtf.usm.my

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), through its Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, has recently been active in collecting video art produced by local artists including Masnoor Ramli. Other artists include Victoria Cattoni, Kamal Sabran, Nur Hanim Khairuddin, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Tengku Azhari, Sharon Chin, Vincent Leong and Wong Hoy Cheong.

75.           See ‘New Art New Voices: Krishen Jit talks to Wong Hoy Cheong on Contemporary Malaysian
Art’ in What About Converging Extremes, Galeriwan, Kuala Lumpur, 1993. p.9

76.           See Niranjan Rajah, ‘Between Amok and Adab: Expresion And Expressionism in Modern Malaysian Art’ in Bara
Hati Bahang Jiwa, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002.

77.           Refer to Matahati, Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2008.

78.           Refer to J. Anu’s essay in, Bumi Manusia : Journey Through Nusantara by Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Petronas
                Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2007, p.13.

79.           Powerful Dialogue, Zulkifli Yusof Solo Exhibition Catalogue, The Art Gallery, Penang, 2000.

80.           Hasnul J Saidon, Semangat Besi – Retrospeksi Sebuah Enigma (Spirit of Iron – Retrospection of An Enigma), Raja Shahriman Solo Exhibition Catalogue, Petronas Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2001.

81.           Niranjan Rajah, ‘Between Amok and Adab: Expresion And Expressionism in Modern Malaysian Art’ in Bara
Hati Bahang Jiwa, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, pp. 78-79.

82.           Niranjan Rajah, “Towards A Southeast Asian Paradigm: From Distinct National Modernism To An Integrated Regional Arena For Art” in 36 Ideas From Asia: Contemporary South-East Asian Art, Asean-Coci and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2002. pp 34 & 35.

83.           Niranjan Rajah, Gema: Resonance, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1998, pp.46-47.

84.           Sulaiman Esa, ‘Judges’ Report’ in Philip Morris Art Awards: Malaysia-Asean 2001, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2001, p.12.

85.           Hasnul J Saidon, ‘In The  Name of (Borrowed) Time’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries 2004, National Art
                Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004.

86.           Ibid.

87.           Hasnul J Saidon, ‘Post-modern Encounters: Young Contemporaries 2002’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries  2002, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p. 3.13.

88.           Michelle Antoinette, p.236.

89.           Niranjan Rajah, ‘Between Amok and Adab: Expresion And Expressionism in Modern Malaysian Art’ in Bara
Hati Bahang Jiwa, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p.47.

90.           Redza Piyadasa, Masterpieces From The National Art Gallery, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p.39.

91.           Ibid, p.40. Such ‘counterpoint’ fits with the structuralism’s notion of binary opposition. Binary set or binary opposition is used in the narrative theory of Levi-Strauss who stated that the structure of constructing meanings depends on conflict between two qualities. 

92.           Michelle Antoinette, p.237.

93.           Syed Ahmad Jamal (ed), The Encyclopedia of Malaysia : Crafts and The Visual Arts, Didier Millet, Singapore,
                2007, p.117
.
94.           Michelle Antoinette, p.237

95.           Ibid, p.240

96.           Hasnul J Saidon, ‘Post-modern Encounters: Young Contemporaries 2002’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries 
2002, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p. 3.13.

97.           Zanita Anuar, ‘Continuing Conversations’ in Continuities : Contemporary Art Of Malaysia At The Turn Of The
21st. Century, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2004, p.17. In reference to an article ‘Contemporary Art and its Trajectory’ by Sophia Natasha in sentAp! Issue no. 3, 2006, Binna Choi writes “she reminds us how the “Western eye” has curbed the contemporary art practice in the South Asian regions and suggest an alternative direction to be taken in seeking new interpretive relationship to local contexts, traditions or cultural roots of the region by not merely adopting but “appropriating” the Western influence.” Binna Choi, “Truly Asia and Some “Varyasians””, in sentAp! Issue no. 4, 2006, p. 6.

98.           Ibid, p.18.

99.            Refer to essays by Li-en Chong in Mind Your Gap, Wei Ling Gallery, 2007 and Hasnul J. Saidon in Dislocated,
12 Artspace, Kuala Lumpur, 2007.

100.         Hasnul J Saidon, ‘Post-modern Encounters: Young Contemporaries 2002’ in Malaysian Young Contemporaries 
2002, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, p. 3.13.





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From
To

Master narrative


Safe

Aesthetic

Formalism


Modern

Homogeneity

National

Exclusive

Mass media

Status-quo

Prescriptive  / Given / Pre-determined

Nation-state

Independence

Centralized

Single discipline/Single media

Linear

Form

Fixed / frozen 

Content

Singular meaning

Product

Mass

Artist as the controller /artist-centered

Review of end product/Summative   

Linear, sequential, single direction   


Isolated specialist

Hierarchy 

Sequence

Hand/physical skill

Goods, product-centered

Global competition

Dominance

Passive audience

Physical attributes

Specialization       


Discourses and multiple (and small narratives)

Provocative

Socio-politic

Parody, irony, pastiche, hybrid, appropriation

Post-modern

Multiculturalism

Regional & global

Inclusive / participative

Video, Electronic Arts & New Media

Deconstruction

Choice

Trans-national

Inter-dependence

Multi-centers

Trans-disciplines/Cross-media

Non-linear

Information

Change / flux

Context

Multiple meanings

Time

Customization

Artist as facilitator/audience-centered

Review of process/Formative

Non-linear/cyclical, simultaneous,
concurrent, multidirectional

Multi-skilled generalist

Network of relation – spider web

Simultaneity

Brain/thinking skill

Services, audience or user-centered

Global collaboration

Synergy

Prosumer / interactive audience

Intellectual Attributes

Convergence


Fig.1 Paradigm Shifts

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