Cli­mate is a shared con­cern

Ipoh In­ter­na­tional art Fes­ti­val’s Cli­mate ex­hi­bi­tion un­der­lines art’s uni­ver­sal ap­peal.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Culture - Cli­mate ex­hi­bi­tion is show­ing at Muz­ium Darul Ridzuan in Ipoh, Perak till Dec 15. Open: 9.30pm to 5pm. By DARYL GOH life­[email protected]­

THE sight of con­tem­po­rary artist Az­izan Paiman, in a haz­mat suit, smash­ing a toi­let seat in front of Muz­ium Darul Ridzuan’s en­trance in Ipoh re­cently might not have been your usual open­ing cer­e­mony art event.

How­ever, it did enough to gain an en­thu­si­as­tic ap­plause from a crowd gath­ered to wit­ness one of the early per­for­mances to co­in­cide with the launch of the Ipoh In­ter­na­tional Art Fes­ti­val 2019 at the mu­seum.

The fes­ti­val cu­ra­tors aimed for an artist-for­ward vi­sion through­out its pro­gramme.

Paiman, if you might say, duly obliged. No soft­en­ing of artis­tic state­ments.

With sup­port from the Per­cha Art Space group, he found a way to drive home the point of there be­ing too much noise and col­lat­eral de­bris when it comes to cli­mate chat­ter. In­stead, this col­lab­o­ra­tive per­for­mance art piece called Si... Tua... Si cap­tured a dif­fer­ent take to the cri­sis – less talk, more action.

“Cli­mate is not so much about the ‘weather’ in this work. It’s more about the mood and at­mos­phere sur­round­ing a ‘cri­sis’ - be it cli­mate, cul­ture or pol­i­tics. This work is meant to cut through all the noise,” said Paiman after the per­for­mance.

“You sweep up after your­self, you make the change now,” he added.

A glance at the Ipoh In­ter­na­tional Art Fes­ti­val’s pro­gramme sched­ule will tell you that art – as un­com­pro­mis­ing as it can try to be in Malaysia – is cen­tral to this mul­tidis­ci­plinary fes­ti­val, which tagged on “Cli­mate” as its of­fi­cial theme.

The fes­ti­val’s Cli­mate art ex­hi­bi­tion is show­ing at Muz­ium Darul Ridzuan un­til Dec 15. It has al­ready ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions with over 4,000 vis­i­tors reg­is­tered in the past 10 days. The ex­hibit has been ex­tended to this week­end.

In all honesty, Cli­mate could pos­si­bly be one of the best ex­hibits out­side the Klang Val­ley this year, and who would have thought that Ipoh was ca­pa­ble of at­tract­ing an im­pres­sive ros­ter of artists.

“Art has the ca­pa­bil­ity to bring peo­ple to­gether, and cli­mate is­sues are a shared con­cern th­ese days. At this fest, more peo­ple are start­ing to un­der­stand that the press­ing is­sues of our time are ones that go be­yond bor­ders. You might be liv­ing in Ipoh, but you can still re­late to what an artist from In­done­sia or Myan­mar has to say about cli­mate,” said Nur Hanim Khairud­din, the di­rec­tor of the Ipoh In­ter­na­tional Art Fes­ti­val 2019.

“For a city like Ipoh, the turnout has been tremen­dous for this art ex­hi­bi­tion and the over­all fes­ti­val it­self,” she added.

The cu­ra­to­rial di­rec­tion for the ex­hibit was steered by Hanim along­side Na­tional Art Gallery cu­ra­tor Tan Hui Koon, sound artist Ka­mal Sabran and artist Bayu Utomo Rad­jikin (Hom Art Trans gallery founder).

Names such as Ah­mad Fuad Os­man, Bayu Utomo, Sam­sudin Wa­hab, Sharon Chin, Chang Yoong Chia, Bibi Chew, Sai­ful Raz­man and Raja Shah­ri­man Raja Azid­din can eas­ily stand out in any group ex­hi­bi­tion, which they do yet again here, while the cast of South-east Asian artists, es­pe­cially Moe Satt (Myan­mar), Ah­mad Abu Bakar (a Malaysian based in Sin­ga­pore) and Muham­madsuriyee Masu (Thai­land) en­sure regional ties are fos­tered.

The Cli­mate ex­hi­bi­tion housed in this two-storey for­mer man­sion built in 1926, of­fers a wide va­ri­ety of art in­clud­ing paint­ings, in­stal­la­tions, light boxes, in­ter­ac­tive works, sculp­tures and ce­ram­ics. The works ad­dress global themes rang­ing from en­vi­ron­ment, pol­i­tics, me­dia and tech­nol­ogy, iden­tity, and em­pow­er­ment.

On the sub­ject of en­vi­ron­men­tal art ini­tia­tives, Kuching-based col­lec­tive Af­ter­math Thinker adds a di­rect action el­e­ment to the ex­hibit. Its plas­tic waste statue is an ac­ces­si­ble entry point for the masses to ap­proach this show.

“Cli­mate” can also come to re­flect on a sense of place and cul­tural per­spec­tives, where com­mu­nity co­he­sion isn’t al­ways smooth.

Muham­madsuriyee’s shadow pup­pets of­fer a con­ver­sa­tion on eth­nic Malay iden­tity and strug­gles from South­ern Thai­land’s tu­mul­tuous Patani Re­gion, while Ah­mad’s ce­ramic in­stal­la­tion dis­cusses how a sense of be­long­ing can never be a given in the mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence.

To­day, there is very lit­tle dis­tance be­tween the or­di­nary pub­lic and is­sues of cli­mate change. Some of the new art pieces at the Ipoh In­ter­na­tional Art Fest give us a sense of this prox­im­ity, where com­mu­nity-based work be­tween artist and the pub­lic is shift­ing from sin­ga­long pas­sive to the ag­gres­sively pro-ac­tive.

Chin’s pub­lic protest se­ries Plac­ards For My Cli­mate Strike, us­ing re­cy­cled card­board, taps into the raw en­ergy cre­ated when art brings peo­ple to­gether.

“I feel the need to show up fully in the cli­mate move­ment, whether as an artist, activist, or­gan­iser, ed­u­ca­tor, cit­i­zen – all of th­ese roles ei­ther sep­a­rately or si­mul­ta­ne­ously. I think the ur­gency re­quires us to have clear pur­pose when we en­gage com­mu­nity through art,” said Chin.

A cu­ri­ous-look­ing wall in­stal­la­tion called Where Have All The Voices Gone? from Chew cap­tures the sound of si­lence, per­haps also a re­flec­tion of how cli­mate whistle­blow­ers are muz­zled or how sen­si­ble po­lit­i­cal voices have dis­ap­peared.

“When it comes to cli­mate is­sues, voices can get buried in this whole land­scape of en­vi­ron­men­tal, po­lit­i­cal and so­ci­etal un­cer­tainty,” said Chew.

What is cer­tain is this en­tire fes­ti­val has def­i­nitely put Ipoh’s name out there as a Malaysian city with huge po­ten­tial when it comes to the cre­ative arts.

“The first step is the most im­por­tant one, and the driv­ing forces be­hind the fes­ti­val must be given sup­port,” said Ah­mad Fuad, who con­trib­utes an un­ti­tled site spe­cific in­stal­la­tion, en­cour­ag­ing view­ers to lead, not fol­low blindly.

“If a good team is in place, the fes­ti­val can grow. Peo­ple will be pay­ing at­ten­tion to what Ipoh can of­fer when it comes to the arts. If KL doesn’t have it, the re­gion and be­yond will be look­ing else­where in Malaysia to es­tab­lish artis­tic con­nec­tions,” he con­cluded.

— Ipoh In­ter­na­tional art Fes­ti­val

a re­cent per­for­mance art work called Si ... Tua ... Si by az­izan Paiman and Per­cha art space at Ipoh’s muz­ium darul ridzuan.

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