Off Walls Off Pedestals

What I Am Doing Now: An Art Gallery and a Cinema

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on January 14, 2010

I am working on an art project by the filmmaker, U-Wei Hajisaari (after this, U-Wei) since the last two weeks. U-Wei is organizing a project which he called “Wayang U-Wei dalam Seni Tampak” to be held at the Galeri Petronas sometime in April 2010. He has invited about 13 artists to interpret or develop his films (read, ideas) into visual art forms like painting, sculpture, prints or installation. He is also talking about converting the gallery space into some kind of a cinema and vice-versa, commenting on the similarities and differences of the two.

I heard about the project sometime early last year when Mastura, received an invitation to participate in the project from Gambar Tanah Licin, U-Wei’s film company. Mastura agreed to participate as she takes the invitation somewhat an opportunity to break away from the “Interiors” which has haunted her since the 1980s! The other reason was, we simply like U-Wei’s films and I was excited to see Mastura was drawing figures and landscapes – something that she never did in the “Interiors”.

Mastura A. Rahman | House of Flowers/House of Harmony | Mixed Media on Canvas | 1999 | 8 x 12 feet | NAG Collection

About some six or seven months later, Mastura succeeded making two 4’ x 8’ mixed media paintings. The paintings, titled “Zaleha Oh Zaleha” and “Zaiton Oh Zaiton”, were respectively based on U-Wei’s “Perempuan, Isteri dan Jalang” and “Buai Laju-Laju”. Mastura was anxious, as apart from first time drawing figures and landscapes into her works, she was also curious about audiences’ responses to her illustrative renditions of the films. During this time, U-Wei visited our studio-house to discuss the project’s progress with Mastura. U-Wei first visited our studio-house sometime in 2003 when he came for my “Lets Have Another War”, a wire sculpture that I exhibited at the “Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa” exhibition, National Art Gallery, 2002.


U-Wei Hajisaari | Perempuan, Isteri dan Jalang (Film still) | 1993 | 109 minutes

After the visit, U-Wei acquired one of the Mastura’s early “Interiors”, which she did in Jerteh in 1988. Then, U-Wei and myself started writing and commenting each other works. I visited him several times at his office in Danau Kota, talking about almost anything on the arts and culture. He was just beginning to work on his latest film, “Hanyut”, and it was at his office that I met Nishino, a Japanese architect-friend of U-Wei, who is designing a space to house U-Wei’s office and cinema, art collections, books and his other collections.

Conversations with U-Wei eventually brought up the idea of collaborating on making something for his exhibition-project. U-Wei was wondering how I would react to objects if he gave me certain film objects to work on, referring perhaps to the way the Dadaists and Surrealists did with their ‘found objects’ , and the wrapped objects of Christo and Jean-Claude. I thought it would be interesting as I had before experimented with “found objects” in some of my on-site installations. Thence I joined the project, rather as a late participant who is now hurrying to finish the works.


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