Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Best Day Of Your Life

Bernice Chauly
I suppose Sharaad Kuttan forgot what he was supposed to read?
I forgot what chitoo was up to, but it was something funny
Curator, Simon Soon
Maya Tan Abdullah, theatre actress, writer, mother, painter, smirking at us
Performance art by Maya Tan Abdullah and Ayam Fared
Panda Head Curry, yes that is Ben Liew dressed as a cow
Abdurrahman & His Laundry Bag

Poet Tshiung Han See striking a rather suggestive pose
Cinnamon Poppyseed Copycakes by Shobee Seelan

* * *
The Best Day Of Your Life

A brand of cupcakes, Copycakes, and T-shirts by artists for sale

2PM - 5PM
- Readings
- Avant-garde Performance by Rumah Anak Theater
- Panda Head Curry
- Abdurrahman & his Laundry Bag

7.30PM - 10PM
- Artist Talk
- Video Screening by Dill Malik, 'All my Successful Attempts'
- Filmmakers Annonymous #12 (Link)

*All photos by Juria Toramae

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Best Art Show In The Univers

The Vegetarian Cooking Show by Munkao
Video by Malaysiakini

* * *

'Best-nye...' - Cik Rogaiyah, Kritik dan Kurator
ARTERI is delighted to present a once in a lifetime opportunity to catch the Best Art Show in the Univers. The exhibition highlights three of Malaysia's most exciting and deranged young talents - Chi Too, Dill Malik and Mun Kao. 

Conceived as an irreverent and humorous assault and affront on the delicate good taste of the Malaysian art world, the show brings together three overly sensitive creative souls who hope to impart light and truth through the incestuous amplification of their intellectually stimulating artworks. 

Be prepared to experience the most intense, electrifying, life-changing, soul-satisfying, cerebrally-engaging exhibition ever put together in our universe as these artists present new works in video, photography, performance, installation, painting and many other mediums. 


* * *
Anchored Configurations of the Everyday: Incestuous Amplification of Radical Creative Subjectification within the Substitutional System of the Bourgeious Division of Labor
by Noos Nomis
The social formations which generates its own conventionalised, academicised, ossified and ultimately falsified norms, require radical revisionings of its visual register that commits to the translation, catergorisation and analysis of the visual-phenomenal experience through an increased and intensified reassignment and realignment of the avant-garde vocabulary within a oppressive matrix of the canon to perpetuate a continuing investigation into the immensity of the social trauma brought about by the political imposition of a state sanctioned prohibition that enforces a self-censoring process within the subject's psychic formation.

The Best Art Show in the Univers is a Lacanian postulation that seeks to reenact the maddening complexity of contemporary art tropes creating a clinical language through which the formal performance and innovation was to attend to symptomatic language - reflecting upon the arch-myth of the conflicted desires rooted in an Oedipus struggle against the father authority. Here, chi too, Dill Malik and Munkao purports a crisis in contemporary practice, positioning their art at the exact moment of theoretical collapse. 

Central to this Lacanian revisioning is also a privileged code through which the concept of class, central to the social history of art, is elucidated through the means of access to the available codes circulated freely within contemporary imagination. The form a specific class identity, pointing at how consciousness of artists could be radicalised at certain points in time and that artsts might have assumed positions of solidarity with the oppressed class. In this instant, the representations of alienated forms, twice removed from the prevalent figurative art of the nation, is a tautological  heroicisation of artistic practices that are subjected to a mechanistic relationship with artistic visual production. 

The interpretative desire to maintain a cohesive system, within an exhibition framework, creates a recuperative register, thought which extreme forms of particulisation and fragmentation have created a caesura - breaking point through which the correlative remnants allows for a revolutionary formulation of syntax and structures that generate incongruent but powerful morphologies through which the obtained meaning could then account for the frameworks of those deterministic mainspring.

The success of this exhibition lies in the bringing together of two things that seem mutually exclusive, the mnemonic dimension of art and a technological format of presentation. Tapping into various languages that account for the intensely variegated fields and area of contemporary practice, the excess and surfeit of medium concern that confidently asserts the fetishisation and spectacularisation of the practice, the exhibition becomes a process that unveils a totalitarian system of values intrinsic in modern art. Without innate resistance, this visual excess performs and queers the subjectivities of both the artist and the audience, converting the physical space into a psychological one while connecting the realities of the space to globalisation as a driving factor. 

The consequences are many and varied. Located within a matrix that is in its least meaningful form described as post-colonial, the hegemonic Western perspective central to the construction of the cryto-mythical narrative of modern art becomes a locus through which these artists have trained their critical lens on. Successive assaults on the inherited apparatus conceives a moment where other distriution forms and alternative public spheres can be imagined. Commitment to opening of art within a multi-disiplinary post medium alignment might at first seemed antipodal to the rigorous pledge towards disciplining and wrest control of meaning within a visual library. Yet these two forms are aligned in their opposition to other prevalent aesthetic models - the idea that art is expressive of subjectivity or the extreme objectivity of medium specific model ala Greenberg. These pragmatic, humanistic approaches recruited humour as an insightful if not exhaustive weapon through which an audience which might at first be alienated from the rigorous practice of contemporary art can be slowly persuaded and won over, reinventing a mode of engagement that at once allow for critical revisioning of the subject and possibilities of reinvesting the formal history of art with social agency. 

Ribbit. Ribbit. I'm a posthuman rabbit. Ribbit.

Satirical Souls

Satirical souls by Adam Lee
(Taken from Time Out KL)

Adam Lee speaks with three comical young Malaysian artists who claim theirs as the best art show in the universe.

Behind the yellow fa├žade of a new studio, where young artists Chi Too, Dill Malik and Munkao work, is a naked interior in stark contrast to its joyful outer appearance. The three young artists have recently moved in and are in the midst of setting up their workplace. 

To begin with, I have no expectation of what the artists would be like, but soon witness their lively behaviour. The three tease and poke fun at each other. Their routine conversation consists of verbally assaulting each other and laughing at each other’s comments.

Before the interview could commence, Dill Malik kept returning to work on her wall, unbothered by my presence. The petite artist was hurrying to finish painting her deep pink wall, because this month the comical gang unveils their works in an exhibition curated by Simon Soon of Arteri (a web portal that highlights contemporary art and culture in Malaysia and Southeast Asia). Entitled ‘The Best Art Show in the Univers’ [sic], the exhibition puts together works including video and photography, performance, installation and paintings – an eclectic mix of artwork by the three artists.

‘I approached Munkao to do an exhibition but we came up with the idea of a group show. Chi Too, Dill Malik and Munkao are friends and have been hanging out at Central Market Annexe,’ Soon says. ‘So, I sat them down and brainstormed about an exhibition and came up with everything from performance to installations.’ He explains that he wanted to showcase the work of younger artists. ‘Most of the young artists that I know are boring. These three are different. They have very different characters,’ Soon explains. ‘It is my hope that through this exhibition the National Art Gallery will consider them for future exhibitions.’

Suffice to say, these three are artists to watch. Childlike and satirical – their jokes, conversation, body language, paintings and drawings are byproducts of excessive exposure to pop culture and wild imagination. When I ask the three young talents about their own artwork, it proved more important to note their body language than their actual words.

Munkao, who is known for his outrageous artwork (which he showed me through his iPhone), would respond to my questions with sentences filled with jargon and gobbledygook. Ultimately all I could get was: ‘vegetarian’. Not unexpected for someone whose profile reads: ‘choirboy, wolves, regrets, money, and sewage control’. Even more unusual was his collection of paintings of Ultraman and Godzilla – that depict the loving relationship of the two pop icons.
Dill Malik, on the other hand, is like the windows she draws – interesting features, but shut. She exudes a sense of anonymity; you wonder what is beyond the closed windows. ‘They were inspired by Microsoft Windows,’ Chi Too jokes.
‘It was the windows from Central Market Annexe,’ Dill replies. Her work incorporates both abstract and pop culture references, and this student of Lim Kok Wing even runs her own personal blog with satirical content.
Chi Too is also an activist, and filmmaker, and handles my questions in a more receptive manner. But when asked if he uses his paintings to communicate a message, he insists that, ‘art is just art and there is no message that any one of us was trying to communicate.’ The filmmaker also has a blog where he uploads his work.

Quirky and unapologetic, the combination of these three bright young talents is going to make the exhibition a tour de force.  Still concern goes: Is the superlative title necessary and will this showcase really be the best art show in the universe? ‘The three of them came up with the title,’ Simon says. ‘It is self-explanatory. It invites people to take a second look. And it also shows that these guys are confident and cocky.’

*Pictures by Adam Lee

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Best Art Show Preview In The Univers!

The Best Art Show Preview In The Univers! by Zedeck Siew
(Taken from KLue)

On Tuesday afternoon, two days from opening night, the three artists that make up The Best Art Show In The Univers (1 to 24 October 2009, 67 Jalan Tempinis 1) argue about how to properly frame and hang a number of their works. The gallery walls around them are still bare.
The pieces currently under scrutiny belong to Dill Malik: they are 1:1 scale prints of her friends' Facebook profile pictures. As of this point, they exist only on Dill's hard-drive; she is still trying to determine where to go to get them printed.


Why haven't you hung your work, Dill?
I just came back from college. I had a presentation this morning. It's my last year in Graphic Design, and I had to make a poster that sells cars.

So college is more important than The Best Art Show In The Universe?
My parents will kill me if I don't finish. I've got my priorities right.

Aside from the Facebook profile prints, what else are you doing for the show?
I'm doing a series of Abstract Expressionist paintings. These paintings have come from the visions I see. In my mind.

What do they look like? Which Abstract Expressionist most influenced your paintings?
Oh, they resemble - Rothko? Jackson? Pollock? Jackson Pollock? Yeah, them. All rolled into one.

Why is your "Univers" spelt without the "e"?
It's the Malay-language spelling. We are spelling it that way out of respect for the Malays. Hopefully, by mixing Malay and English, we will get more people to come and see the show.


Simon Soon (or, rather, Noos Nomis)'s joke essay on the The Best Art Show In The Univers's website - "Anchored Configurations of the Everyday" - is an inscrutable mass of art-speak. It styles the show as:

"a Lacanian postulation that seeks to reenact the maddeningly complexity of contemporary art tropes creating a clinical language through which the formal performance and innovation was to attend to symptomatic language - reflecting upon the arch-myth of the conflicted desires rooted in an Oedipus struggle against the father authority."

The what the what? Thing is, that's only slightly worse than the typical, unnecessarily dense - and totally serious - curatorial essay that comes with every art show, these days.

At a very basic level, the show is satire: a lampoon of the contemporary visual art world's inability to not take itself seriously. Even Marcel Duchamp (with his commode) and Damien Hirst (with his dead shark), while they criticised the highfalutin mores of the art world, did so with an air of academically-justified discourse. Flippancy has always been taboo.

Even at this late juncture, the artists of The Best Art Show In The Univers are remarkably casual, more inclined to mess around than to nail-bite about their work.
Filmmaker and dilettante chi too is contributing installations to the exhibition, so - while his video / photographic / miscellaneous components are already sorted out - these will not be put together until the eleventh hour.


Why are you making installation work, chi too?
Because I'm bored with video. I don't want to be a filmmaker any more. I'm so jealous. Why do people like Liew Seng Tat get to go to Korea? Why wasn't I invited to be part of 15Malaysia?

So why are you in The Best Art Show In The Univers?
I think I add a lot of value to the show. I also think I'm a piece of art, myself.

You mentioned, earlier, that much of your stuff is influenced by your relationship with your Spanish girlfriend ...
Yes. She is away, and it feels like we've already broken up - even though we haven't, yet. I'm channelling that energy. So a lot of my work is tragic. Romantic tragedy is my theme du jour.

Does your Spanish girlfriend actually exist?
Yes, of course! Why do you think I'm single? Is it just because I'm so monogamous?


The only works now on-site belong to illustrator and painter Munkao. One of the works sport text - from a comment thread that followed one of art-blog Arteri Malaysia's posts - superimposed on the painting of a parrot.

The comment thread in question was a moderately-sized flame war, in reaction to Natural, a joint show by Munkao and Saharil Hasrin Sanin in May 2009. Both artists had produced visually clever, easy-to-like, and perhaps discourse-bereft paintings. After a photo-gallery of that show's opening, artists Daniel Chong and Vincent Leong wailed against the stuff, calling them "twatty triptychs" and "gimmicky crap", styling painting itself as the "most boring art form out there".

"don't do paintings just because u think that will make u an artist!" Vincent cried.
See what we mean by flippancy being taboo?

It is difficult to judge how audiences and critics will take to The Best Art Show In The Univers. People don't like to be made fun of, after all. The fun of the exhibition - its wit and smiling rebellion - may be lost, on some.


What is the point of this show, Munkao?
We want to honestly represent everyone's opinion of each other, and accommodate the various belief-systems in visual art. It's 1Malaysia via art; it fits right into the Malaysian narrative.

What are your painting about? What issues do they explore?
These paintings explore my love of parrots. You know how parrots copy whatever you say? So parrots represent our tendency to copy each other.
Also, you'll notice that the text is written in cursive. You know how cursive handwriting is always connected? That's a literal symbol of our connections with each other.

Have you decided what to call it?
Dill and chi too are also collaborating in these works, so we will have to decide together. We are friends, we talk.

Are you going to decide by committee? You know: vote by raising your hands?
We don't restrict ourselves. We are like dolphins. We just want to swim in the ocean. If we are kept captive, we will hammer our heads on the walls.

What if I give you some fish?
Fish? But I'm vegetarian ...


(The Best Art Show In The Univers will open on 1 October 2009, 8pm. There will be a vegetarian cooking show hosted by Munkao on opening night - though he hasn't decided what dishes to present. The Best Day of Your Life, a "tastefully curated all day art bazaar" will happen on 17 October.)