Multimedia works a hit

Video, ping-pong balls, dig­i­tal apps — at this year’s young Con­tem­po­raries awards, non-tra­di­tional works win big.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ART - By OOI KOK CHUEN star2@thes­ > TURN TO PAGE 8

IT’S easy to see why Mohd Fuad Ariff’s video, Pem­bukaan, strikes the right chord amidst the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal ac­ri­mony and ten­sion in the coun­try. It’s a heal­ing cathar­sis, with the silent tex­tual in­vo­ca­tions from the Su­rah Al-Fati­hah, and with the sooth­ing strains of Jo­hann Se­bas­tian Bach’s Air (On The G String) act­ing like a leit mo­tif.

The work won the highly cov­eted Ma­jor Award worth RM20,000 plus a work­ing trip to an Asean coun­try in the Bakat Muda Seza­man (Young Con­tem­po­raries) art awards at the Na­tional Vis­ual Arts Gallery on Feb 12.

Five Jurors’ Award, worth RM5,000 each, were given out to Liew Ting Chuan, bet­ter known as T.C. Liew ( Wheel Of For­tune: Abyss Of Malaysian Land­scape); Yim Yen Sum ( Where I Come From II); Sam­sudin Ab­dul Wa­hab ( Katak Lembu Segar), Mohd Farizal Puadi ( Mem­o­ries Of Make-Up Cab­i­net); and Goh Chai Seng ( Funny Be­liever/ Un­ti­tled/Aura).

Faizul Ramli’s ping-pong aerial syn­chronic­ity, Na­ture Ware, won the Vis­i­tors Choice, worth RM2,000.

At the award cer­e­mony of­fi­ci­ated by Tourism and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mo­hamed Nazri Ab­dul Aziz, elec­tron­ic­mul­ti­me­dia art, which hogged half of the list of 28 fi­nal­ists’ works, won big. The artists, all un­der 40 years of age, were short­listed from a field of 137.

Fuad’s five-minute theatre pre­sen­ta­tion, Pem­bukaan, in a co­coon of dark­ness is a hypnotic salve for frayed nerves, flar­ing tem­pers and rest­less- ness. Drawn from the Qu­ran, the lul­laby mes­sage takes on an uni­ver­sal ap­peal in a tran­scen­den­tal med­i­ta­tion mode, al­though the Bach can take a sin­is­ter twist in a dif­fer­ent am­biance. The en­closed dark­ness of the theatre aids a re­lease of in­hi­bi­tions and of the Self as well as a sense of height­ened con­cen­tra­tion. It is, per­haps, just the balm needed af­ter the ruckus over the tak­ing down of works by Cheng Yen Pheng and Izat Arif Sai­ful Bahrin (see Na­ture of con­tem­po­rary art on page 8).

Pe­nang-born T.C. Liew’s Wheel Of For­tune uses QR codes in­ter­ac­tively, as en­try points into his alma mater Univer­siti Sains Malaysia’s data­base of fine art works. Blown up QR codes, like floor and wall tiles, fan out ra­di­ally from a cen­tral four-tiered colour­coded disc tower.

Sam­sudin re­hashes print­maker Juhari Said’s Katak Nak Jadi Lembu wood­cut – which was a spin on the Malay say­ing “katak dibawah tem­purong” (re­fer­ring to a per­son with a blink­ered world-view) – into a macabre freezer of clin­i­cally cut beef to com­ment on greed, cor­rup­tion and over-con­sump­tion in his Katak Lembu Segar.

The awk­ward el­e­gance of Yim’s Where I Come From II is en­gag­ing for its light flex­i­bil­ity of forms de­spite re­sem­bling a myth­i­cal or pre­his­toric crea­ture with a durian-spike epi­der­mis. That “skin” com­prises nu­anced pic­to­rial build­ings in mono­chrome and dull colours in fab­ric hint­ing at hu­man civil­i­sa­tion. The “shape” comes from the pulls of the fish­ing lines, mak­ing it vul­ner­a­ble to shifts and changes, like a pup­pet.

Goh’s phan­tas­magoric trip­tych, Funny Be­liever/Un­ti­tled/Aura, is a hodge-podge of icons and be­lief sys­tems in a grotesque ren­di­tion while Farizal’s an­tique-look­ing cab­i­net com­po­nents in Mem­o­ries Of Make-Up Cab­i­net al­low for a peek, as if from a se­cret com­part­ment, at the work across from it, Faizul’s mo­tion-sen­si­tive pha­lanx of ping-pong balls mov­ing in a bal­letic rhythm.

Sukor Ro­mat’s bleak Fu­ture­World of seven stand-alone in­stal­la­tions on an el­e­vated plat­form with hints of toxic and ra­di­a­tion pol­lu­tion is a the­atri­cal play on what could be the last bas­tion of hu­man sur­vival but suf­fers from overkill. Ditto works by Ali Bebit, with his psy­che­delic cat-and-dog cy­ber bicker called Pro­vokasi Alam Maya, and Sha­hariah Mo­hamed Roshdi’s huge, mock biotech lab filled with beakers, test-tubes, flasks and jars called Vis­ual Doc­u­men­ta­tion Of Fun­gal Growth.

Of the elec­tronic works, Haris Abadi’s Ar­ti­fi­cial Tide has a dual ap­proach: that of the nos­tal­gia of waves lap­ping the shore like a lul­laby and the other of the chang­ing tide and time; Joseph Dawi’s Raja Brooke in­vites the seated viewer to be­come a time-tun­nel wit­ness to neo-colonist his­tory as the artist

Pri­mor­dial shape: WhereIComeFromII by yim yen Sum (above) has a shape that can shift ac­cord­ing to how the at­tached fish­ing lines are pulled (right). — Pho­tos by dar­ran Tan/The Star

young Con­tem­po­raries Ma­jor award re­cip­i­ent Mohd Fuad Md arif’s video work, Pem­bukaan, strikes the right chord in the na­tion’s life to­day.

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