16 May 2014

505·祭墨 The Worship @ 茨廠家鄉音館 Petaling Street Art House

Chinese ideograms continue to fascinate, with its flexibility of compound arrangements, and evolution from pictorial representation. To commemorate one year after the wishful watershed of GE13, Petaling Street Art House stages a unique display of calligraphy and performance art. Pang Heng Khan 彭庆勤 appropriates the Fulu 符箓, a Taoist talisman written on yellow paper that summons spirits for exorcism and protection purposes. Ascending the stairs, one is greeted by a mixture of mustiness and agarwood (?) scents, the space crowded with paraphernalia placed upon furniture salvaged from its historical surroundings. Scrolls hang from the ceiling and walls, while a central altar and incense sticks remind of a worship ceremony held earlier. A video loop of such rituals is projected behind for the curious observer; One is standing in the government-designated tourist area called Chinatown after all.

KiniTV coverage of "505‧祭墨" exhibition

Obscured from view are 'The 24 Solar Terms in Lunar Calendar 二十四节令', a non-satirical yet essential work that melds into the condensed atmosphere, setting the tone for other proclamations hung around it. Red invocations are paired with Chinese proverbs playfully informed with animal references, notable favourites being '鼠一鼠二' and '猪事顺利'. Contemporary concerns include wishing for the peaceful return of one missing aeroplane, and two quotable quotes by recently deceased lawyer Karpal Singh. Augmenting black ink creates striking contrast in larger works such as '镇国安民 Save The Country and Peoples', which incantations are directed to popular Malaysian deities, thereby surfacing the question of cultural identity within a nationalist framework. '净' Citizen Rights: Clean and Fair' encapsulates perfectly the dictum of the Bersih movement, its single expressive monogram prescribing a summon issued by the rakyat.

彭庆勤 - 鼠一鼠二

The Fu 符, with its scrawling characters acting as charms, is typically only issued by an authorised Taoist practitioner. Heng Khan's political works bypass this present hierarchy, but remain respectful of its stylistic and symbolic references. This conscious choice/act rings of a recalcitrant desperation - if ballot boxes do not rid us of bigoted politicians, perhaps traditional talismans will.
- 吾土我歌, a mandarin translation of Negaraku written on calligraphic scroll by Pang Heng Khan

彭庆勤 - 镇国安民

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