06 August 2013

Merdeka! @ Galeri Petronas

Commemorating its 20th anniversary, Galeri Petronas commissioned Zulkifli Yusoff for an art installation that celebrates the National Oil Company's core values - loyalty, professionalism, integrity, and cohesiveness. Displayed in the gallery's only well-lit corner, are 10 panels with protruding globes that adorn the walls, and 6 recessed kawahs (an oversized kuali) lying on the ground. The artist's signature strips of repeating words, are glued onto these objects in circular loops, further layered with grid-like motifs. Possessing a rocky texture and lava colours, the globes are made of resin, and symbolise the hasil bumi of petroleum and natural gas.

A unified past on a kawah

Interpreting the visionary narrative projected through these objects, the kawahs symbolise the past, where Merdeka! is repeated literally. Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's proclamation to solidify independence, via the harvesting of natural resources, was a rallying call that unified the country, but is perhaps obsolete now. The words "Itulah Nikmat Kemerdekaan" surround the globes, an indication of a present state which the company have successfully manoeuvred through, and shedding the kawahs of the past. Multicoloured bulges, seen on the right-hand-side globes, signify the future threats of resource depletion and globalisation. Zulkifli Yusoff's works are always a joy to appreciate, where the cerebral artist displays an inquisitiveness, that too few Malaysian artists demonstrate.

Bulging globes of future threats

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