Gerakan Seni 2015 @ SMK Bandar Baru Sentul

In a country with an outdated education system – where science & math subjects are promoted as superior over the arts & humanities – the perception of art as a key to understanding one's culture, is lost on parents trained to perceive science stream students as having better career prospects. Pendidikan seni teaches drawing and colouring on a two-dimensional surface, which adheres to the basic notion of art as glorification technique. Good visual design and its appreciation is important, but what is sorely missing from this syllabus are art’s history and the development into its contemporary form, where realistic depiction is a secondary concern. 

Snapshots from Kebun Kreatif project [pictures from Ili Farhana’s Facebook page]

With sustained activities that engage students with ideas of art as intervention, or art as a process, the month-long “Gerakan Seni 2015” stands out as a significant milestone in local art education programming. Having driven past colourful rags strung together, I walk across a wet field where an odd-shaped bamboo structure lies, then follow the hand-drawn map to glimpse an oven made of mud, and admire a charming garden signposted 'Kebun Kreatif'. Youthful enthusiasm is detected two blocks away, as I enter classrooms where students (and a few parents/teachers) are rolling black ink onto carved plates, or moulding clay tapirs outside a creepy exhibition of preserved insects. 

Joint creation by Pangrok Sulap and SMKBBS students

Curator Tan Hui Koon gathers an impressive list of experienced artists to execute the festival programs, from socially engaged individuals to senior art lecturers, and even out-of-town artists last featured in a February exhibition at the Sabah Art Gallery. An ecological theme is a great choice to engage youth who are now more conscious of their environs, and the rewards of such engagements are evident on the many happy faces seen on the Facebook event page. The feeling of hope grows stronger after seeing the list of institutional supporters. In a mural nearby, cartoon figures disembark from paper boats to cohabit an island with a spray can / light tower at its centre. Art is a useful approach to articulate ideas, and it should be an imperative that our children are taught just that.

Snapshots from Tapi Project [pictures on right from ArtSemble’s Facebook page]

“Romantisisme keabadian saat persekolahan itulah barangkali apa yang sebenar-benarnya diinginkan oleh mereka. Rasa keselesaan berteman itu, didorong lagi ke arah aktiviti yang berteraskan konsep komuniti dan pemberdayaan seni sebagai salah satu aktiviti utama, berjaya membuahkan hasil yang positif. Peluang seperti inilah yang jarang diberikan kepada kita sewaktu kita kecil. Ia berhenti di tahap sekolah rendah kemudian paradigma pendidikan beralih fokus kepada kemajuan akademik semata-mata dan tidak lagi mengambil kira kepentingan kooperatif dan semangat setiakawan untuk menjayakan sesuatu program.”
- Anak Dagang, Atas Nama Keselesaan Berteman, Seni itu Hidup dan Terus Berlangsung, 9th August 2015, The Daily Seni 

Mural [picture from GRAFFITI – 080815 photo album on Gerakan Seni’s Facebook page]