CROSSINGS: Pushing Boundaries @ Galeri Petronas

An exhibition about Malaysian artists who “work internationally” starts off on the wrong foot, by greeting each visitor with a world map overlaid with random historical events. This display, wall texts, and catalogue essay, are equally irrelevant, because the exhibition’s emphasis on pluralism in art practices, is an outmoded symptom of our contemporary situation. Granted, the corporate gallery has no new works from its collection to showcase, but it remains surprising how consistently incoherent are its curatorial efforts. So what if an artist has stayed overseas for a long duration – was it an extended travel time? Staying on for a residency? Migrated and changed nationalities? Where was the work itself produced? Does any of these matter?

Ali 'Mabuha' Rahamad - Madusa #2 (1986)

A number of artworks exhibit individual merits, but one is compelled to only talk about the 25 minutes spent watching Hayati Mokhtar’s and Dain Iskandar Said’s ‘Near Intervisible Lines’ (the panoramic video is 45 minutes long and shown here via four projectors). As interviewees talk about their experiences on the left-most screen, the vast beach and sky occupy the audience’s vision. The narratives lend a mythical air to the snail-paced projection, as winds of imagined change complement moving shadows. People go off-screen into purposeful punctures, while the horizon provides a false impression of stability. The assertiveness of nature and time’s passing, is mistaken for inhibited poetry. Where there are no boundaries, there is no safe crossing. So much can be said about art practices.

Installation snapshot of Hayati Mokhtar & Dain Iskandar Said - Near Intervisible Lines (2006)