24 March 2014

Freedom Under Construction + Talks & Performances

HOM Art Trans hosts artists from New Zero Art Space as part of its Malaysia-Myanmar Art Exchange Program, also arranging an exhibition, talks, and performances. Seah Zelin's simplistic yet effective tribute to Teoh Beng Hock is the only notable artwork on display, as the limelight belongs to the performance artists. With the initial intent to comment on capital dependencies, local representative Intan Rafiza instead utilised charcoal in her ritual dedicated to the heavens, her prayerful act a wish for rain and plane. Nora's aggressive use of red and black masking tape grabs attention, especially with her muffling and writhing on the floor the first night, then plastering oneself against a road sign on the second night, as traffic policemen ride by. With a focus on colour, line, and uncomfortable actions, Nora's approach is effective but one-dimensional.

Performance snapshots of Nora - Peace

The only independent art space in Yangon, New Zero was founded by Aye Ko, who was present throughout the Kuala Lumpur events. Although his painting oeuvre is influenced by Western art movements, Aye Ko is a pioneering performance art practitioner, his methods typically involving bounded actions and the Joker-like lip-smacking. New Zero's residency program attracts an international audience, and with support from Western democracies, one cannot help but wonder about soft power struggles. However, by providing free art classes to the masses, it has since drawn many young artists into their current stable. Curator Haymann Oo shared about the difficulties of performance artists, who risks house arrest in a country ruled by one totalitarian regime disguised as a burgeoning democracy.

Seah Zelin - Timer 339(2) (2012-ongoing)

A proven success at nurturing talent, some of its performance artists are already participating at international conferences, although Yin Nan Wai's shirt-tearing at Lostgens' still seems amateurish. Thyitar's performance was the best among all - kneel on red cloth, cut cloth, wrap around head, blows up balloon through cloth, inflates a whole pack of balloons with blown balloons still in mouth, pulls and snips off stretched balloons, unwraps cloth. Her actions describe one who tries to support many others but fails to do so, directing a strong critique at her government, also unintentionally depicting bubbles in an English context. Wrapping the cloth depicts a wearing of national pride, with her visible struggle while inflating, touching a nerve amongst the audience. Many can surely empathise with her expressions, which describes our country all too well.

Performance snapshots of Thyitar - Focus

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