Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ARTIST's CORNER - Dean Linguey

What is the central concept that governs your work?
The content centres around the idea of the bell as a marker of time and how we respond to it. The form, in this case sound and an object, is a continuing conceptual concern of mine – that is, how do we perceive the world through sound and inversely how does our awareness and articulation of sound affect the world we create. I could go on about spatial and object identification through sound, sound as a material, relationships between sound and image but these are inevitable concerns when an artist uses sound.

What inspires you? What do you do to get inspired? What inspires your work?
I find nature inspiring – oceans, rivers, jungle the sky. Also I am inspired by the way human agency (what we do to get by) adapts and manipulates current situations and how we are in turn affected by them. Creativity in others inspires me, a good story, worksongs and workers, particular writers, cities, the great unknown, deadlines.

To get inspired I like to get out of the city and have a chat with nature, read, hang out with friends, do something, talk to a stranger. My work is inspired by what I see and hear around me day to day. Trying to live and be in the moment inspires my work while at the same time trying to find a balance or coexistence between an idea and an expression.

What engages you as an artist? What issues engages you? Does it drive your direction of work in any particular area?
While I don’t think my work is political in an obvious way I do consider my work to be of a political nature, dealing with social issues. These are, I think, not in relation to current events directly but more to do with how people deal with each other and the world on a more personal level. I am constantly amazed by the enormous differences in peoples living conditions who may live “next door” to each other.

In your opinion, do you consider yourself a contemporary artist?
I’m not exactly sure what a contemporary artist is but I think I am one.

What do you think is the role of a contemporary artist in society?
To find the truth.

Do you think the role of a contemporary artist has changed from the 20th century to the 21st century within the social structure of society? Has this effect/influence your practice of art in relation to this shift/change?
In the early 20th century there seemed to be a closer link between ideas in the arts and the sciences for instance. Some artists were made superstars and became infamous for their lifestyles and more famous it seemed after they died. Actually maybe nothing has changed that much except there are more artists now. Contemporary art takes on so many different forms and is for many different reasons that it is difficult to talk about it generally. I sometimes wonder why I do what I do and what is it for and I can only say for me, creativity is an important part of being alive and after trying different things in my life so far, this is where I am right now.

Do you think art education plays a big role in shaping our future generation/nation building? If yes, how?
Yes. I think art education is important as it develops a way of thinking that doesn’t seem to be covered so much in other areas. Working with your hands, making things, creating anything you want out of your imagination and thinking laterally are important I reckon.

Are there any role models that you’ve had (within/ with out art practice)?
I was involved in a performance company for a while and the director, a Malaysian actually, Tony Yap was not so much of a role model, because I didn’t want to be like him, but I learnt a lot from him and the way he creates is still inspiring to this day.

Who’d you like to meet (passed on/alive) if you had the chance to?
My great-great grandfather, Mohamed, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Joseph Beuys, Jesus, Antonin Artaud, Farish A. Noor, Wong Hoy Cheong.

What is the most recent book you’ve read?
Moby Dick and From Majapahit to Putrajaya.

Do you have a favourite superhero? Who?
I like superheroes who are part human, part animal or have some link with animals.

What would you be doing if you were not an artist?
Some kind of writer I think.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Second Phase of the Project : MEETINGS in JULY

The team met up to have a short discussion and updates on the progress of the project on 13 July 2008. On the same day itself, it was also the very 1st session of workshop with the Mural artist Chuah Chong Yong. Consequently after the workshop, we adjourned to the nearest hospital (Tung Shin) for lunch and subsequently had our meeting there too. It was quite a first for a few of us, having lunch at a hospital, but it was nonetheless memorable. We discussed on the possibilities in obtaining several media sponsors from our local papers as well as confirmed the content of the information in our posters. We also spent some time discussing on the need to invite college students who might be interested in projects like these to be gallery sitters for the CAIS exhibition. A budget was briefly allocated for that while we source for the right people.

Having had a journey of 7 months into the project, it was about time that we also thought about ways to possibly plan a feasible system to obtain feedback from students about the project after it is completed. Tentative plans to meet up with local artist Liew Kung Yu was further scheduled in August for an in depth dialogue session to see how we can engage with him to plan just that. Alongside this, we also briefly discussed on the building of a physical feedback system in the school itself to collect the thoughts of students about the project as to whether they like or dislike it.

In addition to this, we are really glad that Stella Maris has approved of our proposal to conduct a film screening session at the roof top of the school in conjunction with the project. Tentative plans are set to screen local made short films at Stella Maris on the 28th and 29th of August 2008.

At the end of July, the CAIS Project team was given a scheduled interview with writer Grace Chin from The Edge Malaysia! We were truly honoured with the opportunity and had a great time giving our thoughts and perspectives on the various questions asked. See below images for the complete write up by Grace Chin - The Edge Malaysia.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

ARTIST's CORNER - Wong Hoy Cheong

In the Artist's Corner series, we will be posting information related to our invited artists for the CAIS Project such as their bio, creative works, Q&A (questions prepared by CAIS Project team and answered by artists) etc. This aims to provide the students and the public a closer glimpse of the personal thoughts and insights relevant to the individual art practice of the artists who are involved in this project.

What is the central concept that governs your work?
Retrieval of stories through fun and play.

What engages you as an artist? What issues engages you? Does it drive your direction of work in any particular area?
Stories, anecdotes, history. Visuality and enjoyment of sensorial experiences.

In your opinion, do you consider yourself a contemporary artist?
Yes, I do.

What do you think is the role of a contemporary artist in society?
The late Ismail Zain once said that contemporary art should reflect the impinging values of the society at that point in time. In these times, the "impinging values" are so wide and varied, and visual art has absorbed anything sensorial into its realm – easel painting, performance, media, film and video, architecture, activism, etc.

Do you think the role of a contemporary artist has changed from the 20th century to the 21st century within the social structure of society? Has this effect/influence your practice of art in relation to this shift/change?
I would argue for a more open, pliant and malleable notion of contemporary art, particularly in trying to activate, or even challenge, the senses there and then rather than attempt to hope for a post-experience criticality, reflexivity. The now seems as important as the "post". The retrieval and activation the sensorial for the audience, the element of play and as valid as the social and political.

Who’d you like to meet (passed on/alive) if you had the chance to?

What is the most recent book you’ve read?
Multitude, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri

Do you have a favourite superhero? Who?

What would you be doing if you were not an artist?
A man of leisure, a farmer, a doctor.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Second Phase of the Project : 2ND MEETING in JUNE

Another late meeting on a Friday night. This time we had it at a Mamak restaurant at Brickfield. To backtrack, actually we started the meeting at the Macdonald near Central Market around 8pm, but it closed at 10:30pm. So we had to relocate, yeap! Tried to find another restaurant nearby but all the stores pretty much closed at 10pm-11pm in that area. So ended up driving to Brickfield to continue our meeting. By the time we left, it was already passed midnight, and we were the last customers to leave the restaurant!!!

On a side note, what a coincidence to bump into Pang Khee Teik, the Arts Programme Director and the self-proclaimed air con remote control man for The Annexe Gallery, Central Market Annexe, Kuala Lumpur (see the profile) at the restaurant. Have to admit, KL is a pretty small city:) For those who don't know, he is another well known figure who is actively involved in the local art scene.

Second Phase of the Project : WORKSHOP RECRUITMENT DAY

It was Workshop Recruitment Day on Friday 27th June 2008! Knowing that the students at Stella Maris High School had finished their school exams on the 25th June, we figured it would be the right time to promote the artist workshops to the students by inviting the artists in-charged to do a short presentation about their workshops during the recess time in the morning and in the afternoon. We believed that the students would be able to interact with the artists and have the opportunity to find out more about the details of the workshops through this brief yet meaningful activity. Our very dedicated team members, Tay Sy and Chang Hwang were at the school to assist the workshop artists in setting up the presentation, and to ensure things were running smoothly in the process of recruiting students to sign up for the workshops.

Overall the response was good. There were more students who have signed up for the workshops than we could accommodate. Our main concern now is to make sure the students who have signed up will commit themselves in attending the workshops eventually. In order to make this happen, we're truly grateful that the principal of Stella Maris is providing us as much help as possible in realizing this project by convincing the parents of the students in allowing their children to participate in this enriching experience. Hopefully everything will turn out the way that we have planned!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Once read a quote by Edmund Burke on the sentiments of tragedy which says, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." A prominent event that echo this very ethos is that of the holocaust. Centuries has passed and we are often caught in the threat of forgetting. But forget we shall not as there's just too much pain to be forgotten, and with the efforts of many to make sure we remember, through art, books, memorial museums and even the internet, we do remember and must remember.

Likened to these many efforts, this pivotal body of work by Oscar Munoz on 'The Disappeared' project, we see art playing its role in questioning the very essence of our humanity with relation to non-action with a different horror. "In the 1970's, those considered threats to their country were kidnapped, tortured, and killed by their own military, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. The tragedy arises to the sad fact that the cause of their disappearance was never known. They merely disappeared. Art in this work is seen to fight the amnesia of forgetting what was once known as horror in the lives of many who had been taken at birth from those who opposed the government and adopted into military families in Latin America." - North Dakota Museum of Art.

Munoz would paint the portraits of these disappeared lives unto a cemented pavement and as time progresses, air would dry up the water and these portraits would disappear. Simple, yet powerful. Do take a look at the video below too and may we be challenged to never forget regardless. In the context of our nation of Malaysia, do wish that there was something like this done with our May 1969 event. Much to reconcile, much to remember.