What I Did Before (the Inside Series)
This is to introduce a serial of installation works, the “Inside Series”, which I did individually or collaboratively since 1997. I see that installation art is a form of art that incorporates a number of media to create a visceral or conceptual experience in a particular environment. Audience participation is also sometimes encouraged through the process of making and exhibiting an installation art.
The “Inside Series” began and developed from a working-theme projected by Projekt-Gruppe Stoffwechsel, Kassel, Germany, for an international installation art exhibition-project organized in 1997. Together with a few friends, I was invited to participate in the exhibition as a group making one installation. A group of five artists was loosely formed and I was responsible for the installation’s conceptual framework. The artists were Zulkifli Yusoff, A Rahim Jalil, Aznan Omar and M Faizal Ramli. Another artist-friend, Syed Mohd, accompanied and assisted us.
In building the installation’s conceptual framework, we started with questions about the given working-theme. We eventually agreed to discuss the ‘insides’ of one-self. The ‘insides’ can be seen in two ways; i.e. a) the ‘tangible insides’, which include the internal organs, blood, bones and etceteras, and b) the ‘intangible insides’, which are the feelings, desires, intellect, wisdom and etceteras. The ‘insides’ comprehend each other and make the ‘self’ moves forward, gaining experiences, understanding sciences and seeking knowledge. The experiences, sciences and knowledge acquired are important to nurture and develop the ‘soul’ or ‘the hidden self’. Journeys and quests are made for the ‘self’, planned and unplanned. The ‘self’ encounters many wonders and sometimes miseries and tragedies too. The ‘self’ is to choose. It is the ‘self’ that decides.
Designing the installation was difficult; everybody seemed to have his own ideas. A combination of many approaches and styles were considered. Finally we agreed to have some kind of a stage or environment based on parts of the traditional Malay architecture as the installation’s setting. We were taken aback when we first arrived at the exhibition site. The project’s organizer just could only offered us an interior space (rooms) and it was not suitable for our intended design. Apparently it was not the site that was first offered to us. We were made to understand some of the organizer’s constraints. We then designed a new installation, making use of any available materials from the supply store. It was indeed an experience for us.
The group broke-up when we came back from the Kassel’s exhibition. We went back to our own undertakings, making and exhibiting art. I, however, took further interests to develop the conceptual framework of the group into new installations. I began by presenting an installation called ‘Inside 2: Assorted Experiences’, in an invited international art exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. From thence, I continue working and exhibiting the serial, either alone or sometimes collaborate with other artists.
A complete list of installation and other works of the “Inside Series” is as follows. The list started with the title, year made, individual or collaborators, materials, and exhibition’s location. All minor works are individually done. Works which are not here listed are not from the “Inside Series.”
Major Works (Installation)
- Inside: Exposition on the Deconstruction of a Labyrinth. 1997. Collaboration with Zulkifli Yusoff, A Rahim Jalil, Aznan Omar, M Faizal Ramli and S Mohd. Jut strings, wall drawings, texts, pebbles, clay, and grasses. Stoffwechsel, Kassel, Germany.
- Inside 2: Assorted Experiences (Exposition on the Deconstruction of a Labyrinth). 1998. Individual. Jut strings, used school exercise books, wall drawings, texts, wire sculptures, pedestals, tables and chairs, and a computer. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Inside 3: Deformation of a Corrupted Self. 1998. Individual. Jut strings, charcoals and canvas, chalks, wire sculptures, and found objects. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Inside 4: Reformation or the Assembling of Long Lost Labyrinth. 1999. Individual. Jut strings, texts, wire sculptures, charcoals and chalks, cabinets, and found objects. Sub-Station, Singapore.
- Appendix to Inside 2: Educational Implications. 1999. Individual. Wire sculptures, drawings, found objects, photographs, and a computer. UiTM, Shah Alam, Malaysia.
- Evanescent Labyrinth. 2000. Collaboration with Ivan Lam and Drawing Factory. Jut strings, pebbles, plastic boxes, fax machine, cabinets, and found objects. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- A/The System. 2000. Collaboration with Ivan Lam, Sau Bin and Hanafiah Waiman. Plastic chips and boxes, caged mousetraps, and texts. Sculpture Square, Singapore.
- Inside Encounters (A Labyrinth Revisited). 2000. Individual. Jut strings, wire sculptures, twigs and branches, seashells, pebbles, texts, drawings, and furniture. Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan.
- A Few Notes to Akal diUlu. 2002. Collaboration with Mastura A. Rahman. Pebbles, garden refuse, and tapioca stems. Akal di Ulu, Hulu Langat, Malaysia.
- Inside: Continued Lessons. 2004. Individual. Drawings, found objects, furniture, and talks. Rumah Air Panas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Lessons Continued: Hearing the Words, Seeing the Signs and Making the Choice Again and Again (or Some Lessons under the Tree). 2004. Individual. Drawings, texts, jut strings, and furniture. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Minor Works (Assortments)
- I made a Drawing. 1997. Used school exercise books, ink, charcoal, and fishing lines. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- A Few Lecture Notes. 1998. Drawings, used school exercise books, wire sculptures, fishing lines, jut strings, and furniture, Galeri Shah Alam, Shah Alam, Malaysia.
- Lessons from Nationalism. 1998. Used school exercise books, inks, pastels, and wires. Private space, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Double Spirals. 2000. Grasses. Oita, Japan.
- A Few Models for Building Governments. 2001. Wire sculptures. Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Fragments from an Installation. 2002. Wire sculptures. Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Let’s have Another War. 2002. Individual. Wire sculptures, texts, and canvas. Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Collection: U-Wei Hjsaari)
- Variable Pieces. 2003. Wire sculptures. Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Inside: Exposition on the Deconstruction of a Labyrinth. 1997. Kassel.
Inside 2: Assorted Experiences (Exposition on the Deconstruction of a Labyrinth). 1998. Kuala Lumpur.
Inside: Continued Lessons. 2004. Kuala Lumpur.